On the strength of novels such as Evening Class, The Glass Lake, and Circle of Friends, Maeve Binchy certainly qualifies as one of Ireland's best known and bestselling exports.
Her latest novel, Tara Road, is the story of two women -- one Irish, one American, both struggling to overcome personal tragedies -- who agree to swap houses for the summer. Ria and her husband, Danny, live in a magnificent old house they have restored together. But her posh Dublin address loses much of its charm when Danny leaves her for his young, pregnant girlfriend. A chance phone call from grief-stricken Marilyn in New England provides both women with a welcome refuge from their shattered lives. But in exchanging houses, they also unwittingly take on aspects of each other's vastly different lives -- not always without new conflict. Though literally an ocean apart, when the two women at last meet face-to-face at summer's end, they find that they have not only learned each other's deepest secrets, but that they have become good friends.