Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'National treasure' Maeve Binchy dies at 72

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LONDON -- Bestselling Irish author Maeve Binchy, one of Ireland's most popular writers who sold more than 40 million books worldwide, has died in Dublin after a brief illness, Irish media and national leaders said. She was 72 years old.

She was best known for her depictions of human relationships and their crises, mainly in the small towns of Ireland but also in London.

"We have lost a national treasure," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said.

The Irish Times, her former employer, told the AP it had spoken to Binchy's family and said the acclaimed author had died in a Dublin hospital on Monday with her husband Gordon Snell by her side.

"She was an outstanding novelist, short-story writer and columnist, who engaged millions of people all around the world with her fluent and accessible style," Ireland's president Michael D. Higgins said.

"In recent years she showed great courage and thankfully never lost her self-deprecating humour, honesty and remarkable integrity as an artist and human being," Higgins said.

Binchy, author of Circle of Friends and Tara Road, wrote 16 novels, four collections of short stories, a play and a novella. Her work landed her on the New York Times' bestseller list and in Oprah's Book Club.

In recent years she continued to write despite being slowed down by arthritis and a heart ailment.

"I do realize that I am a popular writer who people buy to take on vacation. I'm an escapist kind of writer," Binchy said in an interview with the BookReporter website.

"I was just lucky I lived in this time of mass-market paperbacks," she added.

Binchy is survived by her husband, her brother William and her sister Joan. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 1, 2012 D2

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