Maeve Binchy’s latest novel follows the lives of several people who are all connected in different ways to the fictional Irish village of Rossmore. The quite country town has for years drawn visitors to St. Ann’s well, located on its outskirts in Whitethorn Woods. Many flock to the well in the belief that St. Ann will intercede for them and answer their prayers, and the parish curate, Father Flynn, is torn between encouraging people in their faith and discouraging them from idolatry. Fanning the flames is the latest gossip that a new highway is being planned that will cut straight through the woods and through the well itself. There is a tension between the desires of some townspeople to defend Rossmore’s provincial ways and the desires of others to embrace the cosmopolitan allure of encroaching urbanization. Whitethorn Woods is a charming and engaging tale of two worlds colliding in the inevitable march toward modernity.
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