Set in an Irish village in the 1960s, Firefly Summer is a story about people, especially those connected to one another by traditions, love of family, and their hopes and dreams.
So when a very wealthy American comes to town, determined to build a hotel in the place where beautiful ruins now stand, the reactions of the townsfolk are mixed. Some see his plans as a way to bring new life into the village, while others focus on what they might lose. How the character of the village will change, and therefore, so will their lives.
At the heart of the village is Ryan’s Pub, a comfortable and homey place where people come together to celebrate and connect to one another. John and Kate Ryan are good people, and they have four children: the twins, Michael and Dara, who are twelve when the story begins; and Eddie and Declan. Eddie is a troublemaker, and trying to keep him on the right path is a challenge.
Patrick O’Neill, the rich American, seems charming enough. His two children, Kerry and Grace, are gorgeous young people. But something dark lurks behind son Kerry’s handsome face.
What events will markedly change all of their lives in the years ahead? How will tragedy and horrific betrayals affect what each of them has hoped will happen in their lives? How will the people in the village cope with the changes and not be altered drastically?
As with most of Maeve Binchy’s novels, the characters are like real people, with flaws, as well as the good human decency one might expect in small town life. In some ways, there were almost too many characters and for the first part of the book, I felt bogged down trying to keep them all straight. In fact, the pace did not quicken or really capture my attention until more than halfway through. Then with an intensity that can come when events begin to spiral out of control, the ending was like a flash forward into unexpected places, almost like a blanket of fireflies marking the time and place. Four stars.