Be prepared (short story) – Maeve Binchy

I’ve never read a Maeve Binchy novel in my life! But I have read her short story called Be prepared. Nothing like a good, short, sharp, poignant story to recalibrate your thoughts on life, family and what’s most important in life.

Just to tell you a bit about Maeve in case you’ve never heard of her, here’s the Wikipedia breakdown. Sadly, she passed away in 2012, aged 73.

Maeve Binchy was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, columnist and speaker best known for her sympathetic and often humorous portrayal of small-town life in Ireland, her descriptive characters, her interest in human nature, and her often clever surprise endings.

Let me get straight into the story. Be prepared centres around Aunt Girlie who glides into town via limousine and seemingly disrupts life for her nephew and his family. Aunt Girlie never spends time with the family so everyone is surprised when she announces that she’ll be home for Christmas.

Note that Aunt Girlie is generous. He husband passed away, leaving her with a generous amount of money, to live out the rest of her days on cruise liners and amazing places around the world.

And when I say Aunt Girlie disrupts life for her nephew and his family – I mean that she questions each individual’s life to the point of a nervous breakdown! Always asking the inappropriate questions which are far more relevant and appropriate than we think. She gets under their skins and turns their lives upside down. For the better or for the worst – it’s your opinion! I’d say for the better. We all need that mirror to hold to ourselves. Healthy dose of perspective.

“If you planned well, then nothing could go wrong. That’s when Aunt Girlie said she was coming for Christmas.”

So meet Aunt Girlie. Meet her nephew Frank, his wife Nora and their children Kitty, Sean and Martin. And how they all actually end up having a very enlightening Christmas after being turned inside out by Aunt Girlie who is arguably zany but unapologetically her.

-Babongile Z

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