Book Review: This Year it Will be Different by Maeve Binchy

This Year it Will be Different by Maeve BinchyThis Year it Will be Different: What it is about

From the publishers: “This Year It Will Be Different brings us the magic and spirit of Christmas in fifteen stories filled with Maeve Binchy’s trademark wit, charm, and sheer storytelling genius. Instead of nostalgia, Binchy evokes contemporary life; instead of Christmas homilies, she offers truth; and instead of sugarplums, she brings us the nourishment of holidays that precipitate change, growth, and new beginnings.

The stories in This Year It Will Be Different powerfully evoke many lives during the one holiday of the year when feelings cannot be easily hidden: step-families grappling with exes; long-married couples faced with in-law problems; a wandering husband choosing between ‘the other woman’ and his wife; a child caught in the grown-up tug-of-war. The time of year may be magical, imbued with personal meaning, but the situations are universal, and Maeve Binchy makes us care about them all.”

This Year it Will be Different: What I thought

This is a typical Binchy read: full of family and friends, close and difficult relationships. It’s not a cozy Christmas book. Instead, it’s full of stories of people who have to celebrate Christmas in a way that they don’t really appreciate. Sometimes it’s because they have had the same Christmas for years, with the same difficult guests spoiling the day. In other stories, people are divorced and have to organise their Christmas plans around their exes, or they are on their own feeling sorry for themselves. Of course, the stories tend to end well although generally not in the standard whole-family-together happy-around-the-dinner-table kind of way.

I loved reading this book. So many different situations are described, and I love how the people in the stories start off with a problem: they don’t want Christmas – or not as they are expecting it to be. And then at the end of the story, they either get quite a different Christmas, or at least a Christmas they can handle.

While Binchy is happy to destroy a few Christmas traditions along the way, one thing is certain: the turkey is always part of the festivities. Even she can’t get away from that old beast, the turkey. I have had many Christmases in the UK, next door to Binchy’s Ireland, and there, too, the turkey cannot, I repeat cannot, be absent at Christmas dinner. Now, I’m sure there are people who don’t do turkey, but I swear, most do, and they can’t even conceive of a Christmas without turkey, sprouts and brandy butter. Oh well, we all have our traditions, I guess. Binchy certainly does.

Merry Christmas!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (good to very good)

Number of pages: 366

First published: 1996

I got this: via Bookmooch, a book swap site

Genre: short stories contemporary fiction

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

8 Responses to Book Review: This Year it Will be Different by Maeve Binchy

  1. Laurie C says:

    Sounds like the kind of Christmas book I like. I’m making a note of it for next year! That’s funny about the turkey; someone said to me on Christmas Eve that she was one of those that had to have turkey on Christmas. I didn’t even know it was a thing! (We more often have spiral ham.)

    • Leeswammes says:

      Laurie, Turkey is big in the UK and Ireland. It’s like Thanksgiving: can you imagine it without turkey? Why not? Anyway, my point was that Binchy is happy to break with a few traditions, but never the turkey. 🙂

      On Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 3:14 AM, Leeswammes' Blog

  2. Mystica says:

    Sounds ideal as a Christmassy read. Family, friends and traditions! Merry Christmas Judith though a bit late!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mystica, thanks. I hope you had a good holiday too. Did you hand out any presents to your orphans this year? I hope you had a successful trip if you did.

      On Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 3:59 AM, Leeswammes' Blog

  3. Isi says:

    I have read this one!
    Indeed, they are great stories since all of them have not the “happy atmosphere” that should always be present on Christmas.
    After reading it I coommented it with my teacher and we talked about Christmas in the UK; I thought the turkey was a cliché, but no; it is always there! 😀

    • Leeswammes says:

      Isi, indeed, it’s not a clich. Amazing, isn’t it? But don’t they always eat ham for a special occasion in Spain? 🙂

      On Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM, Leeswammes' Blog

      • Isi says:

        Ohh nooooo!!
        We eat ham always! I can’t say it is “special”, perhaps when you buy a very expensive one, but we eat it quite often 😀
        For special occasions we are more likely to eat shellfish, for example.

      • Leeswammes says:

        Isi, in Spain I saw legs of pork hanging the shops! People actually buy those, wow! I was so amazed when I first saw that – then the other day I saw some in a Dutch supermarket. I don’t think the Dutch even know what to do with it. 🙂

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