Book Review: A Week in Winter
By: Maeve Binchy
Published By: Orion
Publication Date: October 2012
Page Count: 464
Adult - Fiction
A Week in Winter is one of the Binchy novels that is told in a series of vignettes with various characters who are all tied together by their time at Stone House, an inn on the west coast of Ireland. These seem to be more of the norm for her in the later years of her writing career. While I miss the sweeping historical novels, I have come to love these new connected stories as well. They are intensely character driven and I love losing myself in the Irish setting.
The story begins by telling about Chicky Starr, a native of the small town of Stoneybridge. As a young woman, she fell in love with the wrong sort of man and moved to New York City. Eventually, she moves back home and decides to open Stone House. Ultimately, this is her story and focuses on her success as an entrepreneur, but it's through her business that many people find answers and solace. I enjoyed getting to know this smart and vivacious woman who cares deeply for her family, her inn, and strives to give her guests the best possible experience. I longed for a trip to Stone House the entire time I was reading this novel.
In addition to Chicky, I was introduced to Orla and Rigor, her employees, as well as all of the guests who will come to Stone House the week of its opening. I loved finding out why each of the guests came to the inn and learning more about their back stories. My favorite stories focused on Winnie, Anders, and Freda.
Stone House also becomes a character if sorts. The setting is vivid and beautiful. Binchy always had a way of bringing Ireland to life. I'll miss that there won't be any more of her wonderful stories. This is a novel I will come back to in the future. I think I'd love to read it again when there is a chill in the air and a cup of peppermint hot chocolate in my hand.
One Last Gripe: I didn't like that Nell didn't seem to come out better for her stay at Stone House.
Favorite Thing About The Book: The setting
First Sentence: Everyone had their own job to do on the Ryans' farm in Stoneybridge.
Favorite Character: Chicky
Least Favorite Character: Nell
Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know one another. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House’s big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father’s business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone’s relief; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions.