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Bolger, Dermot (Devised and edited) – Stories by: Maeve Binchy, Clare Boylan, Emma Donoghue, Anne Haverty, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Kate O’Riordan, Deirdre Purcell
San Diego: A Harvest Original: Harcourt, Inc, 1999
ISBN: 0-15-600866-1 257pages

Bob Corbett
June 2016

This work is a follow up to Finbar’s Hotel. Each of these volumes has 7 chapters with six different authors, one of whom wrote two stories. In both cases the author of each individual story is not identified, not is the reader told which of the authors wrote two stories in either volume.

I read and commented on the first volume earlier on, and enjoyed it so much that I picked up the second volume as well. Once again I enjoyed the stories, yet this second volume was not as satisfying as the first. In this second volume I found that for me a few of the stories were either too weak so too far “out” that I simply wasn’t able to suspend disbelief and move into the flow of the story. Despite this criticism, the four or five stories that I liked made the volume worth having and reading.

In the first story, set in Room 101: Sarah Lord has just arrived back in Ireland and is there on a very strange mission: to receive some spermatozoa from her friend’s husband. He is not to inseminate her, but simply to provide the spermatozoa and she will take it from there.

It is a very very funny story with a quite bizarre premise. However, I was taken in and enjoyed it a great deal.

Room 102: Poppy Fitzpatricks is a clothes designer in New York. She’s very excited since a top Dublin store rep is coming to see her. However, her father also shows up at the hotel. It’s been 30 years since she’s seen him and he is obnoxious. However, he is once again back in an asylum from which he walked out. Poppy just accepts it all, yet his craziness and presence throws her entire business visit to Ireland into a great threat. She has almost no sympathy for her father, and has a great opportunity facing her, but she is caught in a most difficult dilemma as time is running out on her scheduled meeting and the problems of dealing with her father causes her great troubles. The story is nicely done.

Room 103: Ronnie Ryan is on her way to the airport to meet Chester Stone, coming to Ireland from Stockholm to marry her. She’s almost 30 and the couple has been planning a small wedding with just 26 guests.

On her way to her room she runs into her ex-boyfriend, Neil Nolan. They’d had a long and difficult relationship and he quite bluntly tells her quite hurtful things about herself as he saw her even then when they were in relationship.

Soon, however, she is faced with a very difficult situation. Neil has left and the police show up asking her if he was with her. She is put on the spot and has to make a critical decision as how to reply. Quite interesting!

Room 104: A woman is at the hotel to meet a fellow she has just met on a train coming to Dublin. He had asked her to have a drink with him at Finbar’s. She gave her name as Julie. She’s actually there for a conference: Spirituality and the Sisterhood, and is headed to join the nunnery. However, she told him her conference was “Nursing in the Community” and made no mention of the nunhood. She has lots and lots of money, having won a sweepstakes and is heading to nunnery, but she has had sex with a couple guys in the past and is wishing to do it again before entering the convent!!!

It’s all a bit too much and goes into a wild ending when even God enters into the story. It’s a good deal corny, and just so over the top that I couldn’t take the story at all seriously!

Room 105: Detta is in Ireland to do some genealogy work. As Bernadette she had been a chambermaid at the hotel when she was 17. She thinks back to the “old” Finbar’s. She’s married to Piet, a Dutchman who is coming to meet her. In her earlier days at the hotel she had fallen deeply in love with Conor who was then a student, a hard worker and very good looking. She had fallen deeply in love with him.

She loves her husband Piet very much, but remembers the great passionate love she had with Conor when she worked at Finbar’s many years ago. In those many years back she had a son with Conor and then gave up the child to adoption. Her experience was very lucky. She was put into the home of a very loving and caring couple and they took excellent care of her and made her feel good even about herself and her coming baby. However, she still gave him up for adoption. She was just 17 and it was 1970 and Ireland’s views of unwed mothers were still quite old-fashioned.

Now she is at the Hotel since she picked it as a place to meet her son, Paul, for the first time since his birth. He had found her and asked for the meeting.

Paul, who’s now 27 shows up and she’s at first confused since she thinks he is Conor!!! He looks so much like his father.

It’s a touching story!


Emily Paugh is at the hotel to spy on her husband whom she thinks is being unfaithful to her. She’s caught him in a few small lies and has blown up an entire theory about him having a mistress or more than one.

They are an older couple who even married late in life and have no children.

Emily is just beside herself with doubts and fears and the writing of the story is very convincing and suspenseful.

However, what is really great is that it has a very strong surprise ending!! Very well written.

THE PENTHOUSE: TARZAN’S IRISH ROSE: This is a crazy very over the top story. A quite elderly American actress who once played Jane in a single Tarzan movie. At the time of the story she’s fairly broke, old, hasn’t had any luck since that one film so many years ago.

However, she hears about a film in which she is simply sure that they will want her. She uses the absolute last of her money to come to Dublin and, so sure that her career is about to begin again, she takes the Penthouse at Finbar’s which costs $3,000 a night.

The story is just too crazy and the nutty American single-film actress all over the top and completely unimaginable even in wild fiction. Nonetheless, the story is fairly amusing despite its silliness. I found this to be the weakest tale in the volume by far.

Bob Corbett


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Bob Corbett