Maeve Binchy's stories are very often of family and relationships and love. That is the straight forward part. The other is about the relationships which evolve over the years as we grow up and this book particularly is one like that.
Elizabeth is sent to board with the boisterous O'Connor family in Kilgarett, Ireland. She is a quiet girl brought up by a mother and father who are distant not just with her but with each other. For the first time she is faced with a loving family who have no problem with showing their feelings for each other openly and brothers and sisters who may love each other dearly but who have no compunction in tearing their hair out either. She is also faced with the Roman Catholic religion in full force - not just at home but in the convent with the nuns. Lots of changes for little Elizabeth and ones which she handles beautifully.
Fast forward to the end of the war and Elizabeth must now return home. To a mother who is very light hearted and gay and to a father even more reclusive than before. She soon realizes that everything is not quite right and she has to take a leading role in being the adult in the family and sort matters out.
Joy and sorrow in equal measure, the devastation of war and the fear of death, the irreparable sorrow on the death of a child, the disillusionment of failed marriages and betrayal are all part of this story. It is also a story of strong women who face upto whatever life throws at them. It is actually a story of life in general. The era in which it was set is particularly appealing for me as I like WWII stories.