Maeve Binchy is among my favorite authors. She died July 30, 2012.
I’m sure that many would put her in the chick-lit category, but I would not. While romance often plays a part in her books, more important is the character development. She introduces her characters as they are both to themselves and to others. They will not be perfect, but you love them because they are not perfect. Often, when I finished one of her books, I would sit and simply miss the characters or wonder what they were doing in their next chapter. Sometimes she continues their stories in her later books, not necessarily as the main characters, more often as cameos, and you get a glimpse of what they are doing now.
She spends time on place of action. Most of her books take place in Ireland, although sometimes the main characters are traveling elsewhere. She presents Ireland one of the characters. Not perfect, but getting better and aspiring to be better.
You don’t need to start back and go forward. Her first published book was 1982 and in 1990 she published Circle of Friends, ultimately made into a charming movie (1995). My favorite book is Glass Lake. Scarlet Feather and Quentins are well connected. I understand that she had a completed book with her editor so we can hope that we will ‘hear’ from her again. Seldom has an author touched me like Binchy, I will miss her.