By Maeve Binchy, Knopf, 385 pages

In her newest novel Minding Frankie, Maeve Binchy writes the tale of a single father who must rely on his close-knit Dublin community to help him raise his infant daughter. When Noel learns that his former girlfriend is pregnant with his child and terminally ill, he determines he must rise to the occasion. When Frances Stella Dixon Lynch is born by cesarean section one moment and her mother dies in the next, Noel is terrified.

As Moira, the social worker who wants to put baby Frankie in foster care, pesters, we watch a growing sense of community amongst a curious cast of characters: Lisa, Noel’s former classmate who moves in to help care for the new baby; Emily, his American cousin; Dr. Hat, a newly retired physician; Dr. Declan, Fiona, and their baby son, who becomes Frankie’s first friend; long-time friends Signora and Aidan; and loving grandparents Josie and Charles. While Binchy’s tale is titillating and reads quickly, it lacks character depth and sidesteps human complexities in favor of cheerful, tidy conclusions.

Reviewed by Jennie A. Harrop