Maeve Binchy
No Nightingales, No Snakes

Author: Maeve Binchy
Starring: Nimah Cusack, Mark Straker, Andrew Macklin, John Dougall, Siobhan O'Kelly
BBC Audio
RRP: 8.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 67745 5
Available 02 July 2007

Ireland is neither cursed with snakes, nor blessed with nightingales, and the characters in Maeve Binchy's fiction occupy the same middle ground. These five stories, specially dramatised for BBC Radio 4, feature modern Irishwomen emerging from a culture where they knew their place into a more hazardous, but more rewarding light...

No Nightingales, No Snakes is a unique offering for all Maeve Binchy fans, as there is no book release featuring any of these stories, turned here into full-cast Radio 4 dramatisations. Over the course of this release we hear five very different tales. With each story being only fifteen minutes in length, it's a testament to Binchy's skills as a writer that the listener instantly warms to all of the main characters.

The five tales in this collection include:

The Night People Came in for Something That Was no Trouble: spurred by envy at another couple's exasperating ease at giving dinner parties, Cara plans the perfect evening down to the last detail. But of course, nothing goes as planned - when does it ever when you want things to be just so?

In The Stepson, Clare is walking on eggshells at home, taking great care not to try to replace her stepson's dead mother, but gets little help from her new partner Martin. But has she noticed that her stepson is awkward with the situation?

Decisions at Sea: Tessa, an overlooked but good-tempered secretary runs an informal lottery every week with her wage packet as the prize. As she tells her story to a stranger, we learn there is more to this her tale than meets the eye.

The Answer Machine: After giving Nat her telephone number at the end-of-term party, Biddy reasons that her family needs an answering machine as an early Christmas present. But by Christmas Nat still hasn't called. Why is she punishing herself, believing that he will eventually phone her?

By the Time We Get to Clifden: Harry and Nessa, having agreed that going abroad wasn't for them, are planning their 24th annual week's break in Clifden. But they have an unexpected guest who makes life uncomfortable for them? Or does she?

The person responsible for the sleeve notes should be rapped on the knuckles. In The Stepson it is unclear, from the cast list and the synopsis, whether the stepson is called Simon or Mike. Also, Clare and Martin are not married, despite the fact the synopsis claims they are. Okay, I know that's a little anal on my part, but it does infuriate me when no one checks these things.

Ignoring that very minor moan, this collection will make a wonderful addition to anyone's collection.

Nick Smithson

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