At the heart of Ria's story, you touch upon the subject of divorce which has only recently been accepted in Irish culture. What are you thoughts about love, marriage and divorce?

Maeve Binchy:
When I was young, there was no divorce, people lived together, often long lives of ill-disguised hate and coldness. It was, of course, safer for the children in that they never had to see the family they loved break up. But some of those marriages should have ended. There was too much emphasis on what other people might think or say or whisper about. Like anyone, I obviously would wish and hope that a marriage promise would be fulfilled and last forever, but also like anyone, I am realistic enough to know that this doesn't always happen.

So I would prefer there to be laws and regulations that would protect the innocent and give dignity to the disappointing and unlooked-for end to a bargain made in good faith on the wedding day. I don't think marriages just work automatically, and in a changing world, where the roles of men and women change from one decade to the next, the goalposts seem to move.

There are no absolutes. But possibly a later marriage, when both men and women have had some experience of life and hopes and dreams, would work best. But then again, I know many magnificent marriages where a young couple have been able to grow up with their children.

How do you react to the film adaptations of your books?

Maeve Binchy:
I have been very lucky indeed, since Circle of Friends was a delightful movie with two engaging and handsome young stars, Chris O'Donnell and Minnie Driver, to bring my characters to the screen. Television version of Echoes and The Lilac Bus were also excellent. There are at present several negotiations going on with studios about Evening Class and Tara Road, and I am sure they will work out well, too.

How do you feel about being famous?

Maeve Binchy:
I am always pleased when people say they like my books, and I never thought that there was any image to live up to in being a bestselling writer. Gordon and I work happily side by side in a big, sunny room with two very much loved cats who sit by and watch us. My brother and sisters live nearby. And we have the same good friends as we always had. I grew up in this area, so no one would let be become big-headed even if I wanted to.


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