Binchy, Maeve: Tara Road
(researched by Erin Smith)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Maeve Binchy. Tara Road. New York: Delacorte Press, 1999. Copyright 1998 by Maeve Binchy. Parallel first editions: In England: Maeve Binchy. Tara Road. London: Orion, 1998.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first American edition was published in cardboard binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
256 leaves.[8] 2-60 [61] 62-138 [139] 140-20 3 [204] 205-255 [256] 257-309 [310] 311-367 [368] 369-417 [418] 419-471 [472] 473-502 [503]. Chapter pages are not numbered, other pages are numbered at top corner of page.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
No editor or introduction. The book is dedicated ìTo dearest Gordon with all my love.î Gordon is Maeve Binchyís husband.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This book is not illustrated. The painting on the cover of the first American version was done by Maurice de Vlamick, and is titled "Restaurant a-Marley-le-Roi."
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Measurement of page: 235 mm X 155 mm Space with text per page: 190 mm X 113 mm Measurement of margins: top margin 25 mm Side margin 20 mm Bottom margin 20 mm Type size: 107R Type Style: FF Bodoni Classic Handdrawn The text if very easy to read due to the amount of white space between the lines and in the margins. The book has the appearance of a new novel, with the exception of a few spots on the side of the pages.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The paper is heavy, cream colored, and straight around all edges.cream colored paper. Wove paper.
11 Description of binding(s)
Cardboard binding with cloth around the spine. Red front and back covers, with black spine. Plain front cover. On spine embossed in gold MAEVE BINCHY| TARA | ROAD| [device] | Delacorte | Press. Endpapers show painting from dust jacket, "Restaurant a-Marley-le-Roi" by Maurice de Vlamick.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: [double rule] | TARA | ROAD | [type orn.] | Maeve Binchy | [double rule] | Delacorte Press Verso: Published by | Delacorte Press | Random House, Inc. | 1540 Broadway | New York, New York 100036 | This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents | either are the product of the authorís imagination or are used fictitiously. | Any resemblence to actual persons, living or dead, events, | or locals is entirely coincidental. | This book was first published in Great Britain by Orion Books, Ltd. | Copywright 1998 by Maeve Binchy | All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or | transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, | including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage | and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, | except where permitted by law. | The trademark Delacorte Press is registered in the U.S. Patent and | Trademark Office. | Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data | Binchy, Maeve. | Tara Road / by Maeve Binchy. | p. cm. | ISBN 0-385-33395-1 | 1. Title. | PR 6052. I772T37 1999 98-33768 | 823.914__dc21 CIP | Designed by Virginia Norey | Manufactured in the United States of America | March 1999 | 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 | BVG
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
The original manuscript of Tara Road is at University College in Dublin
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Dust jacket: On the front cover, the painting "Restaurant a-Marley-le-Roi" by Maurice de Vlamick. Title embossed in gold in the middle of the front cover within a black oval. MAEVE BINCHY | TARA ROAD | A NOVEL. The spine is black. MAEVE BINCHY | [miniature version of painting on front cover] | TARA ROAD | [device] | Delacorte | Press On the back cover, continuation of painting from front cover. Color photo of Maeve Binchy in gold rectangular frame in middle of back cover.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. New York: Dell, 2000. ISBN: 0440235596 This edition is the Oprah Book Club edition, it has the same cover art as the original, but has an "Oprah" seal on the front denoting that it was chosen for her book club.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
There were at least 11 reprintings of the first edition by September of 1999. This is probably near the total number of reprintings, because the publisher changed the format of the book to make it an "Oprah Edition" after September 1999. The first printing in 1999 was 225,000 copies. The 11 reprintings combined produced 310,000 copies. Source: Maryles, Daisy, and Dick Donahue. ìKudos for Fiction.î Publishers Weekly, March 15, 1999 v246 i11 p21(1). *Maryles, Daisy. ìIrish Eyes are Smiling.î Source: Publishers Weekly, Sept 13, 1999 v246 i37 p20.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. London: Orion, 1998. [First Edition UK] Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. New York: Random House, 1999. ISBN: 1402873093 [oprah edition] Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Bt Bound; ISBN: 0613271785 [library binding] Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Thorndike, Me: Thorndike Press, 1999. [Large Print Edition] Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Toronto : McArthur, 1999. [paperback] ISBN: 1-552-78080-5 Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Bath: Windsor, 1999. ISBN: 0754012824 [large print ed uk] Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Bath: Paragon, 2000. ISBN: 0754022129 Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Toronto, McArthur, 1998. ISBN: 1552780015 [Canadian edition]
6 Last date in print?
The book is in print as of October 2002.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
According to a letter from the author, in 2003, 3.5 million copies of Tara Road have been sold
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
In 1999, Tara Road sold 950,000 copies. In 1999 in Canada, Tara Road sold 1,108,903 copies. In 1999 in UK, Tara Road sold 658,321 copies. Before September 1999, Tara Road has 310,000 copies printed. When Oprah announced it as an Oprah Book, the publisher printed another 700,000 copies. In 2000, Tara Road sold 1,026,000 copies. In 2001, Tara Road sold over one million copies. Sources (in corresponding order): -- Maryles, Daisy, and Lauele Rippa. ìSo Far, Little Has Changed.î Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2000 v247 i15 p40. -- Lifewise Book Club Profile: http://www.canoe.ca/LifewiseBookClub/profile_maeve.html -- Bookselling 2002 Report, edited by Simon Howitt, (Page 14): http://216.239.33.100/search?q=cache:tgCmelAsUwEC:www.travelmole.com/common/keynote/sample_full_report/33015.pdf+number+of+copies+sold+%22tara+road%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 -- Maryles, Daisy. ìIrish Eyes are Smiling.î Source: Publishers Weekly, Sept 13, 1999 v246 i37 p20. -- ìThe Right Names Make the Game.î Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2001 v248 i12 p37. -- OíHanlon, Eamonn. ìNo Sex Please Weíre Irish; Maeve Slaps Love Ban on Movie of her Book.î Sunday Mirror, January 14, 2001. News, Pg. 11. January 14, 2001, Sunday
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
This book was advertised in the New York Times Book Review on March 7, 1999. The ad focuses on Maeve Binchyís success as an author. It cites her as ìThe New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Friends and Evening Class.î The ad also includes a picture of her, a picture of the book, and positive quotes about Binchyís writing from the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer. The book is also described briefly: ìTwo women at a turning pointóone from Ireland, one from Americaóswitch lives for one summer, and learn as much about each other as they do about themselves.î
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A210191021009100703.jpg
11 Other promotion
Diet Coke ran an advertising campaign from February 1-April 30, 1999, in which excerpts of books, including Tara Road, were packaged with 12 and 24 packs of diet coke. The excerpts were up to 32 pages long, and each book was 4î x 6î. On the package of coke containing the excerpt, the cover of the book included was featured on all sides of the package. About eight million copies of the excerpt from each book were included in the over 45 million packs of coke that participated in the campaign. Although not directly an advertisement, one of the biggest factors influencing the sales of Tara Road is the fact that it was chosen as the 26th Oprah Book Club book. Before the announcement, 310,000 copies of Tara Road had been published. When Oprah announced her choice of Tara Road as a Oprah Book Club book, the published printed another 700,000 copies.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Audio Versions: Tara Road [sound recording] / by Maeve Binchy. Narrated by Jenny Sterlin. Prince Frederick, MD : Recorded Books, 1999. 15 sound cassettes (21.5 hrs.) ISBN: 0-7887-3115-7 Tara Road [sound recording] / Maeve Binchy. Narrated by Terry Donnelly. New York : BDD Audio, p1999. 4 sound cassettes (6 hrs.) Tara Road [sound recording] / Maeve Binchy. Narrated by Terry Donnelly. : Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1999. ISBN: 0553456768. Abriged, 5 cds. Tara Road [sound recording] / Maeve Binchy. Narrated by Katherine Borowitz. New York :; BDD Audio, 1999. 11 sound cassettes (18 hrs.) ISBN: 0553502328 Movie: As of October 2002, Maeve Binchy has agreed to turn Tara Road into a movie. Cynthia Cidre is the screenwriter who will adapt the book. The movie will be produced by Miron Blumental and Stan Margulie. As of October 2002, there is no sign of when the movie will be finished.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Binchy, Maeve.[Tara Road. Hebrew.]Translated by Derekh Tarah. / Maiv Bints'i ; [me-Anglit, Ya'el Shenfeld] Published: [Tel Aviv] : Or 'am, 760, 2000. [Spanish] Binchy, Maeve.Tara Road : una casa en Irlanda. Translated by Alicia Dellepiane. Barcelona : EmecÈ Editores, c1999. ISBN: 8478884963 [Italian] Binchy, Maeve. Ritorno a Tara Road. Translated by Maria Luisa Cesa Bianchi. Milano : Sperling & Kupfer, [2000] ISBN: 882003008X [French] Binchy, Maeve. Sur la route de Tara : roman / Maeve Binchy. Translated by Dominique Mainard. Paris : Presses de la CitÈ, 1999. ISBN: 2-258-05102-9 [Polish] Binchy, Maeve. Droga do Tary. Translated by Teresa Sosnicka. Warszawa : PrÛszynski i S-ka, 2001. ISBN: 8372557276 [German ]Binchy, Maeve. Ein haus in Irland. Germany : Droemer, 1999. ISBN: 3426195011 This novel has been translated into around 20 different languages, but these were the only citations I could find.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
This novel has not been serialized.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Binchy, Maeve. Quentins. E P Dutton, October 28, 2002. .ISBN: 0525946829 The main character in Tara Road, Ria, is also a character in Quentins. However, the book does not focus only on Ria, and should not be considered a sequel.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Maeve Binchy was born in Dalkey, Ireland, on May 28, 1940. Her father, William, was a lawyer, and her mother, Maureen was a nurse. Binchy had a brother and two sisters. As a child, she went to school at Holy Child Convent, Killiney, County Dublin. Binchy received her bachelor's degree in history from University College in Dublin in 1960. She then became a school teacher, and taught French, history, and Latin in all girls schools from 1961-1968. The parents of her students at a Jewish school were pleased with her teaching, and gave her a ticket to Israel as a thank you present. This thank you present led to Binchy's first published writing. Binchy's wrote a letter to her parents from Israel that was printed in a newspaper in 1963. Binchy began her publishing career with this letter at the age of 23, but it would be many years before she was a well known novelist. After she returned to Ireland, Binchy continued to teach, but also wrote travel articles for the newspapers. In 1968, she took the job as editor of the woman's page for the Irish Times. In 1973, Binchy asked to be transferred to the London office of the Irish Times to pursue her future husband. She was married to Gordon Snell January 29, 1977. Binchy continued to write for the Irish Times, while also writing plays and short stories. She published her first book, aptly titled "My First Book," which consisted of collected newspaper columns, in 1976. Her first books of short stories (The Central Line: Stories of Big City Life and Victoria Line, now published together as London Transports) were published in 1978 and 1980 respectively. In 1982 she published her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, and it was a success. At the age of 43, Binchy was becoming a well known novelist. She continued to write popular novels about average people, friendships, and small town life. Other novels that she has written include: Echoes (1985), Firefly Summer (1987), Silver Wedding (1988), Circle of Friends (1990), The Copper Beech (1982), The Glass Lake (1995), Evening Class (1996), Tara Road (1999), Scarlet Feather (2000), and Quentins (2002). Two of Binchy's early plays were produced in Dublin. End of Term was produced in 1976, and Half Promised Land was produced in 1979. Binchy also had a play called Deeply Regretted by-- produced for television in 1979, as well as television versions of her novels Echoes (1988), and The Lilac Bus (1991). Her book, Circle of Friends, was also made into a movie in 1995 and Tara Road is in production to become a movie. Binchy lives with her husband in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland. They have no children. The couple also spends time in London, England. Maeve Binchy's agent is Christine Green, 2 Barbon Close, London WC1N 3JX, England. As of October 2002, Binchy has retired from writing her column in the Irish Times, and she plans to retire from writing more novels.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
While Maeve Binchy's previous bestselling novels no doubt played a part in the success of "Tara Road," most reviewers agree that "Tara Road" continues Binchy's literary tradition. Binchy is known for comfortably domestic books with interesting characters that people can relate to, and themes of friendship, love, and betrayal. While many reviewers positively responded to Maeve Binchy's novel "Tara Road," they did not always agree about what was the strongest aspect of the novel. The debates revolved around the realism of Binchy's characters and the reality of the events in the novel. Many reviewers credited Binchy's portrayal of character for being responsible for the novel's success, but others found that the portrayal of characters was the weakest point in the novel. Carol Bissett, a reviewer for Library Journal, mentions Binchy's ability to paint "sensitive portraits of a variety of women" in the novel. Bissett goes on to say that the "novel's other characters are vividly drawn--the reader never has to stop to remember who is who." A reviewer in Kirkus Reviews states, "Once again, Binchy memorably limns the lives of ordinary people caught in the traps sprung by life and loving hearts." A review in People Weekly also agrees with this view, reviewer Amy Waldman wrote, "Vivid characters and relationships--or predicaments, you might say--are at the heart of Binchy's success." Not all reviewers found Binchy's characters quite so engaging. In a review in World Literature today, Jose Lanters writes, "A certain shallowness pervades the characters in Tara Road: motivation for their actions is often lacking, and the long, pedestrian dialogues soon become tedious." The Publishers Weekly review points out that Binchy's "American scenes and characters pale by contrast" to their Irish counterparts. Reviewers also disagreed about the pacing and events of the plot. The most common negative comment was that the events in the novel were too tidy, or problems too easily solved. Jose Lanters wrote, "It is all a shade too easy and never quite rings true." The same sentiment is echoed in a primarily positive review in Publishers Weekly, where the only criticism is that "the beginning is slow and the end overtidy." Other reviewers were satisfied with the unfolding of events in the story. In People Weekly, Amy Waldman writes, "The story unfolds in short scenes and moves in such a relaxed, unhurried fashion that it's almost a shock to realize, by the end, how much has happened and how utterly involved Binchy has made us feel." Booklist's reviewer Brad Hooper also responded positively. He wrote that Binchy "weaves an intricate, tightly integrated story." Overall, the reviews for "Tara Road" were mostly positive. Although not all critics agreed that fans will be "transported to reader's heaven" (Bissett) by the novel, most of them seemed to find more positive things to say than negative. Brad Hooper seems to sum up the sentiment in his review in Booklist: "Her latest work may not draw new readers, but her fans will find Binchy's talents undiminished." Sources: Bissett, Carol J. "Tara Road." Library Journal. Feb 1, 1999. Lanters, Jose. "Tara Road." World Literature Today, Wntr 2000 v74 i1 p172 Pages. (Picks & Pans)(Review) Amy Waldman; Alex Tresniowski; Pam Lambert. People Weekly, April 12, 1999 v51 i13 p45+(1) "Tara Road" Publishers Weekly, Dec 21, 1998 v245 i51 p51(1). "Tara Road". Kirkus Reviews. Dec 1, 1998.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
While Maeve Binchy's previous bestselling novels no doubt played a part in the success of "Tara Road," most reviewers agree that "Tara Road" continues Binchy's literary tradition. Binchy is known for comfortably domestic books with interesting characters that people can relate to, and themes of friendship, love, and betrayal. While many reviewers positively responded to Maeve Binchy's novel "Tara Road," they did not always agree about what was the strongest aspect of the novel. The debates revolved around the realism of Binchy's characters and the reality of the events in the novel. Many reviewers credited Binchy's portrayal of character for being responsible for the novel's success, but others found that the portrayal of characters was the weakest point in the novel. Carol Bissett, a reviewer for Library Journal, mentions Binchy's ability to paint "sensitive portraits of a variety of women" in the novel. Bissett goes on to say that the "novel's other characters are vividly drawn--the reader never has to stop to remember who is who." A reviewer in Kirkus Reviews states, "Once again, Binchy memorably limns the lives of ordinary people caught in the traps sprung by life and loving hearts." A review in People Weekly also agrees with this view, reviewer Amy Waldman wrote, "Vivid characters and relationships--or predicaments, you might say--are at the heart of Binchy's success." Not all reviewers found Binchy's characters quite so engaging. In a review in World Literature today, Jose Lanters writes, "A certain shallowness pervades the characters in Tara Road: motivation for their actions is often lacking, and the long, pedestrian dialogues soon become tedious." The Publishers Weekly review points out that Binchy's "American scenes and characters pale by contrast" to their Irish counterparts. Reviewers also disagreed about the pacing and events of the plot. The most common negative comment was that the events in the novel were too tidy, or problems too easily solved. Jose Lanters wrote, "It is all a shade too easy and never quite rings true." The same sentiment is echoed in a primarily positive review in Publishers Weekly, where the only criticism is that "the beginning is slow and the end overtidy." Other reviewers were satisfied with the unfolding of events in the story. In People Weekly, Amy Waldman writes, "The story unfolds in short scenes and moves in such a relaxed, unhurried fashion that it's almost a shock to realize, by the end, how much has happened and how utterly involved Binchy has made us feel." Booklist's reviewer Brad Hooper also responded positively. He wrote that Binchy "weaves an intricate, tightly integrated story." Overall, the reviews for "Tara Road" were mostly positive. Although not all critics agreed that fans will be "transported to reader's heaven" (Bissett) by the novel, most of them seemed to find more positive things to say than negative. Brad Hooper seems to sum up the sentiment in his review in Booklist: "Her latest work may not draw new readers, but her fans will find Binchy's talents undiminished." Sources: Bissett, Carol J. "Tara Road." Library Journal. Feb 1, 1999. Lanters, Jose. "Tara Road." World Literature Today, Wntr 2000 v74 i1 p172 Pages. (Picks & Pans)(Review) Amy Waldman; Alex Tresniowski; Pam Lambert. People Weekly, April 12, 1999 v51 i13 p45+(1) "Tara Road" Publishers Weekly, Dec 21, 1998 v245 i51 p51(1). "Tara Road". Kirkus Reviews. Dec 1, 1998.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The success of Maeve Binchy's novel "Tara Road" stems from two separate sources. The novel began its success due to Binchy's talent, good reputation, and the desirable escape that the plot provided for everyday readers. The success was continued and propelled further to new audiences when the book was chosen as the 26th Oprah Book Club book. In an interview with Oprah Winfry, Maeve Binchy explained, "I want my books to draw the readers into the tale that is being unfolded. I do not write poetry, I do not have a particular literary style, I am not experimental, nor have I explored a new form of literature. I tell a story and I want to share it with my readers. In today's world, where audiences want to lose themselves for a while, there does seem to be a place for the stories I write, I am delighted to say." (Oprah.com) Binchy's novel "Tara Road" became a bestseller because it allowed people to escape from their everyday lives. The novel tells the story of Ria Lynch, an Irish woman who meets and marries the man of her dreams. After years of trying to create the perfect lifestyle and family, Ria discovers that her husband Danny has been cheating on her and is leaving to be with his pregnant girlfriend. Ria's world, which centered around Danny and her family, comes tumbling down. As she struggles to rebuild her life, and her conceptions of happiness, she agrees to switch houses with an American named Marilyn Vine for one summer. As Marilyn and Ria begin to interact with the former neighbors and friends in each other's lives, they discover many different things about each other as well as themselves. The change helps both of them to put things in perspective and begin to move on to a new stage of life. Binchy is known for creating realistic characters that people can relate to. Although her main character is often a middle aged woman, she also uses people of all different ages as supporting characters. Her interesting characters provide an alternative to the everyday problems of real people. Amy Waldman writes, "Vivid characters and relationships--or predicaments, you might say--are at the heart of Binchy's success" in her review of the novel in People Weekly. The reader feels like they have made new friends through the novel, and are able to empathize with the characters and watch them overcome the problems they face. In an interview in Publisher's Weekly, Binchy comments that "I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks" (Weber). Realistic characterization was one of the things that was most commented on by contemporary reviewers of the novel. Barbara Valle writes in the Library Journal that the "characters are distinctly and vividly drawn." The accessible characters in Binchy's narrative are one of the key ingredients that help her novels to allow people to escape into an alternative world through the story. The success of Binchy's novel can be partly attributed to her framework of normality: Binchy is able to provide the reader with a realistic escape that will neither create tension or anxiety (as a mystery novel might) or prompt the reader to wish for a better life (as a glamorous novel might). In an interview, Binchy described herself as "an escapist kind of writer" (bookreporter.com). Binchy aims at the audience that many other bestsellers miss, the readers who just want a break from their own lives through a novel that makes them feel good. The novel is about normal people and their interactions, instead of extraordinary people in odd situations. Reviewer Brad Hooper comments, "The sum and substance of this engaging novel becomes what each woman learns about the other and, more importantly, what they learn about themselves through the course of their odd project." Binchy's novels do not use any of the gimmicks employed by many bestsellers. The plot is not exciting and filled with danger, the characters are not glamorous, and there is no underlying mystery or violence in the story. However, although the characters themselves and the way they handle life is realistic, Binchy does include a degree of fantasy in the novel. The novel taps into the inaccessible desire to trade places with another person. The characters in the novel are able to leave their entire world behind to escape into a life created by another person for a few weeks. Although the novel's conflicts and obstacles are just as upsetting as a more dramatic novel, the character's ability to overcome the issues and move on with life in a realistic way provides a sense of hope that is more easily transferred to the reader's own life than a conclusion to a mystery novel would. It is not surprising that "Tara Road" was chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection. Binchy's realistic style of writing and the types of books she normally writes overlaps with the types of books that Oprah chooses for her book club. Binchy often writes about Irish women protagonists who are average people dealing with problems such as betrayal or loss. They often start out as insecure characters but learn and gain confidence as they overcome their obstacle. The novels can be seen as almost a type of "coming of age" story, but for older adult characters. The characters usually become aware of something, like an affair, that opens their eyes and causes them to view themselves, and the world, differently. D.T. Max wrote about "The Oprah Effect" and noticed a trend in the types of novels she picks for the book club. Oprah tries to pick books that encourage self reflection in the reader. Max writes in his article that "[Oprah] wants to expose people to books that matter, books that in some way touch the self." He goes on to quote Oprah as saying that the reason she loves books is that "'they teach us something about ourselves.'" This criteria for books that touch people personally applies to Binchy's novel because she engages the reader in a way that both the pain and growth endured by her characters are experienced by the reader as well to a certain extent. The books do not encourage self reflection outright, but the realistic setting encourage more comparison to the reader's own life than a fantasy novel would. Max goes on to note that, like "Tara Road," many of the Oprah novels take place in small towns. The books are also similar to Binchy's in that most Oprah Book Club choices "tend to draw their themes from real life." (Max) It is clear that "Tara Road" fits the stereotypical category of books chosen for the Oprah Book Club. Binchy is known for novels that do not sensationalize any part of life. The trademark absence of sex and violence in the novels is a point of pride for Binchy, and also serves to characterize the audience of her novels. In an interview for Publishers Weekly, Binchy tells how she has discovered that the audience of her novels "is grateful for the absence of sex and violence. They're people who like being able to buy a book that will suit their mothers and their children" (Weber). In keeping with this pattern, when questioned about the love scenes in the upcoming film version of Tara Road, Binchy emphasized that the sex would be implied rather than explicit. Her agent, Christine Green stated, "This is not going to be turned into a steaming sex movie?It is not a book about bonking and the film won't be about bonking either" (O'Hanlon). Binchy's novels tend to be read by older adult women, who read for themes of friendship and relationships than for sensationalized sex or violence. This audience is reflected in the publisher's early attempts to publicize the novel. All of the publicity was aimed at adult women. In the spring of 1999, "Tara Road" was one of six titles that had free excerpts included in packs of Diet Cokes. This was an appropriate place for the novel to be advertised because the target audience of Diet Coke was the same as the target audience for the novel. The spokesperson for the Diet Coke campaign, Diane Garza said that the company had done research to see what motivated Diet Coke consumers. The company found that the consumers were about 60% women (Dahlin). Garza stated that, "when we asked them what they liked to do, the number one answer from both men and women was: reading. We learned that they liked empowerment stories, stories about someone who overcomes a difficulty, someone who makes the most of life?" (Dahlin) The publishers also printed an excerpt of the novel in Good Housekeeping July 1999. This magazine is also aimed at adult women. When "Tara Road" was published in America in March of 1999, Maeve Binchy had already written several successful novels. She was widely recognized as a successful, but not overly notable author. In his review in Booklist in December 1998, Brad Hooper wrote that Binchy "has forged a solid reputation with solid novels about domestic situations. Her latest work may not draw new readers, but her fans will find Binchy's talents undiminished." This opinion characterized the early reviews of the novel. "Tara Road" was reviewed as a novel that was just as good as her previous works, but was not expected to draw a large number of new readers. The novel was expected to be a success based on Binchy's previous fan base, but was not expected to draw many readers who were previously unfamiliar with her. However, "Tara Road" experienced much more success than was expected. It was on the bestsellers lists for 28 weeks, and sold over 950,000 copies in 1999 alone (Publisher's Weekly, April 10, 2000). The novel was propelled to success based on the publicity it received by being chosen as the 26th Oprah Book Club novel. Although Binchy was already a well known author when "Tara Road" was published, the book would not have been as successful as it was without the major publicity that it received. The publicity created through the Oprah show helped to cement the public person Binchy had created through her previous magazine and newspaper interviews. Binchy is always portrayed as down to earth and ordinary. Her picture on the dust jacket of the novel is not glamorous, and the short biography in the back cover simply states that she lives in Dublin with her husband. The appearance on Oprah heightened the public's awareness of this persona, because the interview highlighted Binchy's down to earth writing and quality of life. Unlike other bestselling writers, like Danielle Steele, who are known for their elaborate mansions and style of living, Binchy is known for staying in the same unpretentious house. The biggest impact of the Oprah phenomenon was on the sales of "Tara Road." Binchy's novel appeared on the bestseller lists in Publisher's Weekly as soon as the book was published in March of 1999. The book debuted in the #4 spot, and climbed as high as #2 in the first thirteen weeks it was on the bestseller lists. In the beginning of June, after thirteen weeks on the bestseller list, the book dropped out of the list. It did not appear again until after September 9, 1999, when Oprah announced that "Tara Road" was the 26th Oprah Book Club choice. By the September 20, 1999 bestseller list "Tara Road" was already back into the top ten, listed as #3. The book held the #2 bestselling spot for the weeks of September 27, 1999, and October 4, 1999. It then began to drop down but held its position in the bestseller lists for an additional 15 weeks. The book was on the bestseller list for a total of 28 weeks. Clearly, although Maeve Binchy had a draw of her own due to her former popularity, the publicity and endorsement by Oprah propelled the novel into the bestseller lists for twice as long as it would have been without the book club announcement. "Tara Road" was popular and well written enough to enjoy success without Oprah's endorsement, but the choice of the book as the 26th Book Club choice greatly influenced the scope of that success. Binchy created a novel that allowed audiences to relate to the characters and escape from their everyday life, but Oprah helped Maeve Binchy to reach audiences who would not know who she was otherwise. The combination of the well written novel, Binchy's previous fan base and popularity, and Oprah's Book Club endorsement all came together to make this book a bestseller. Sources: *Dahlin, Robert. "Diet Coke Hits the Books in a Big Way.(marketing campaign offers book excerpts in packs of Diet Coke)." Publishers Weekly, Feb 1, 1999 v246 i5 p30(1). * Hooper, Brad. "Tara Road. (Review)" Booklist, Dec 15, 1998 v95 i8 p706. *"Maeve Binchy." http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/au-binchy-maeve.asp *Max, D.T. "The Oprah Effect." The New York Times, December 26, 1999. Section 6, Page 36, Column 1. *O'Hanlon, Eamonn. "No Sex Please We're Irish; Maeve Slaps Love Ban on Movie of her Book." Sunday Mirror, January 14, 2001. News, Pg. 11. *"Tara Road: Interview with the Author." http://www.oprah.com/obc/pastbooks/maeve_binchy/obc_pb_19990909_conv.jhtml *"Tara Road." Good Housekeeping, July 1999 v229 i1 p159. *Valle, Barbara. "Tara Road.(Review)" Library Journal, Sept 1, 1999 v124 i14 p252. *Waldman, Amy. "Pages.(Picks & Pans)(Review)." People Weekly, April 12, 1999 v51 i13 p45+(1). *Weber, Katharine. "Maeve Binchy: Ireland's bestselling author is refreshingly modest about herself and her characters." Publishers Weekly, Oct 26, 1992 v239 n47 42(2).
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