Monday, August 6, 2012

"Childless, not heartless"

As I noted briefly in my last post, author Maeve Binchy -- a favourite of mine -- passed away recently. I hadn't known, until reading her obituary, that she was childless, and the knowledge made me feel even more warmly about the lady and her writing, if that was possible.

Wouldn't you know, with Binchy barely cold in the ground, some so-called writer -- I can't even think of a descriptor that adequately reflects my feelings --  decided this was the perfect time to muse on the topic of "If Maeve Binchy had been a mother" -- posing the question, "Does a female novelist need to have experienced motherhood to truly understand human emotions?" -- & concluding that perhaps the answer is yes.


Cue the sound of my head exploding. :p  I was already in a funk this weekend (you all understand why), & reading CRAP like this...!! And about Maeve Binchy, of all people, whose books are renowned, even by the most hard-bitten critics, for their wit, humour and insight into the human heart.

Fortunately, Melanie Notkin, founder of Savvy Auntie, has penned a rebuttal for Huffington Post. "Novelist Maeve Binchy was childless, not heartless," the headline reads.

Notkin notes that Binchy's lack of children was not a choice, and links to a 2008 article in which Binchy wrote about her childlessness and the warm relationships she has enjoyed with others' children and grandchildren.

"I bless those good friends and family who lent us their children..." Binchy wrote. "Our many 'children' and 'grandchildren' will never really understand what a great role they played in filling a gap that could have been sad and destructive but in the end turned out be so joyful... I hope that they knew we loved their company. And if they didn't know, they do now."  

"There is no question that the experience of motherhood adds to the wealth of experiences an author has to glean from," Notkin acknowledges, but then adds, "But the pain of being unable to become a mother and the joy of selflessly loving nieces and nephews and other children not-ones-own are also deep, rich experiences from which an author can be inspired." 

Thank you, Melanie. And thank you, Maeve Binchy. It;s been awhile since I read one of her books, but I think it's time to dig out my copy of "Light a Penny Candle" or "Firefly Summer" & savour the words of a master author -- a great human being -- and a fellow CNBCer -- once more.


  1. I am sorry to hear of the passing of Maeve Binchy. I was equally enraged by that asinine statement. Is this really how far we've evolved? Nice rebuttal though. A fitting way to counteract the jackass who so carelessly attempted to detract from Ms. Binchy's life's work and character.

  2. I love Maeve Binchy's books, and I skimmed the first article and was first annoyed and then appalled. Frankly, it seemed to do little more than offer children as an excuse for a lack of professional or artistic productivity, and then suggest that what does get produced is somehow more meaningful because also that person had a baby? Ridiculous doesn't even begin to cover it.

  3. I'm glad for the rebuttal. How wrong that someone would say that you have to experience being a mother to understand human emotions. That is just messed up- absolutely awful.

  4. I went straight over to read that article (not a paper I generally read as it doesn't reflect my politics!). I was appalled by it, too - thankfully so were most of the 171 people who commented.

  5. I curse you Loribeth! There I was, drifting along in my Olympic-not-enough-sleep haze, quite happily detached from the world for a moment or tow, and then I clicked on that article. I am INCENSED!!!

    For once though, the comments to an article are well worth reading. I have so many favourite comments I just can't say. So maybe I forgive you after all, lovely Loribeth.

  6. Well you can tell that I'm really really far behind if I just hit this post. I wrote about it this morning too. The article made my head explode. What an incredibly cruel thing for someone to write, and I'm shocked her editor stood by it.