Reviewed By: Harriet Klausner
The Tavern on Maple Street
Amazon US HC Amazon Canada HC
Putnam Feb 2006, $19.95, 336 pp.
In Belfast Jack and Lily Beaumont fell in love from the moment they met in 1984, but were so poor she could not afford a winter coat. Both felt then and still do that a miracle occurred when he inherited Beaumont Tavern from his grandmotherís brother though all their relatives dumped them out of either jealousy or opposition to their relationship. They have lived in love there for two decades while the relatively small in size when compared to most of the cityís bars Beaumont Tavern remains popular amongst the locals who frequent the Victorian modeled edifice.
Now the government wants to renovate Maple Street tearing down the historical Victorian-gothic edifices and replacing them with a large mall. The couple initially refuses to sell, but the contractor Victor Halloran is a capable nice person making a more than reasonable offer that would allow the Beaumonts to retire. The government pressures the couple threatening eminent domain if they fail to agree to Halloranís kind offer. However, Jack and Lily hesitate as they have had loyal customers for two decades plus this has been their life together.
Sharon Owens third contemporary Irish fiction novel is a stunning tale in which the decisions between urban renewal vs. heritage are difficult and realistic for everyone, making for a tense deep character driven drama. Neither Victor nor Jack and Lily are bad people and they negotiate in good faith though that does not lessen the impact of to sell or not to sell for that is the question. THE TAVERN ON MAPLE STREET is an excellent modern day story that fans will marvel over the simplicity of the plot yet relating a complex societal issue.
Reprinted with permission. Do Not repost without permission from the author, Harriet Klausner