Book Review: Minding Frankie

Minding Frankie
Published By: Orion
Publication Date: September 2010
Page Count: 425
Source: Library
Audience: Adult - Contemporary

Noel Lynch has been lost in the bottom of a pint glass for most of his adult life, but things change drastically when a woman from his past, Stella, requests his presence at the hospital. His arrival at Stella's bedside proves to be a day of shock; Noel learns that not only is Stella dying, but that she is pregnant and she claims the baby is his. Noel can't fathom that he could have possibly fathered this child and he is at loss for how to proceed. 

While Noel is reeling from Stella's news, his cousin from America, Emily, is making herself at home in Dublin. She is encouraging to his parents and always has a word of advice for Noel. He immediately seeks out her help concerning Stella and the baby. After much debate, Noel decides to step up and do the right thing. It's very clear that Stella will not survive the birth. She will never see her baby daughter or hold her in her arms. As a new mom, I couldn't fathom this and even now my heart breaks for Stella. Baby Frankie draws her first breath while her mother is fading away.

The beginning of the novel was difficult and terribly sad, but things do take a turn for greener pastures aside from a few bittersweet moments here and there. In true Binchy fashion, Minding Frankie has a host of characters who were plodding through life, but find themselves more fulfilled as a result of Frankie. The baby brings people together and out of their dreary isolation. Noel has so many people supporting him as he starts treatment for his alcohol abuse and undertakes the raising of his daughter. I wish all communities operated this way.

The one dull spot in Noel's world is Moira, the social worker. Moira is convinced that Noel can never truly reform his drinking habits and that every day Frankie is with her father is a day that she is at risk. While I can certainly understand wanting to be sure that a child's best interests were being met, I couldn't understand her constant hounding of Noel and the venom that she spewed at him at every turn. I wanted to shake some sense into Moira. Her meddling causes so many unnecessary conflicts throughout the novel.

Aside from Noel and Frankie, a large portion of this novel is devoted to Emily, Noel's cousin, as she transitions from her life in New York City to a new life in Dublin. In some ways I envied Emily. She was able to start fresh in a new city with a new culture and new adventures. There is something freeing about that notion. Emily soon becomes an integral part of the lives of others in her Dublin neighborhood. She is the sort of character I would love to run into in real life as I know we'd be fast friends. Her steady calm is something I crave in my own life, but I have trouble maintaining something like that when the stresses of life intrude.

In addition to the wonderful cast of characters (which includes old favorites from other novels such as Declan and Fiona), I love the beauty of Dublin. Binchy has a way of bringing modern Ireland alive. Dublin sounds beautiful and full of complex, friendly people with rich history and vibrant culture. I hope to visit the city for myself some day.

One Last Gripe: I wasn't always ready to leave one character focus to jump to the next.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The emphasis on various forms of family

First Sentence: Katie Finglas was coming to the end of a tiring day in the salon.

Favorite Character: Emily

Least Favorite Character: Anton

Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone. 

Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles. 

But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.


  1. I've had this one on my TBR list for a few years now, I think I might just have to dust it off and actually read it before the year is through. Lovely review, it certainly seems like a great read.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    1. I highly recommend giving it a read. I enjoyed it and the cooperative spirit and love of this community is good for the soul. :)


Post a Comment

We love your comments!