Synopsis (publisher): 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.
My take: As it happens, I read Maeve Binchy’s final novel during a week in winter while on vacation. My parents’ home in sunny, warm Arizona was a great place to relax and read the book but I wouldn’t have minded reading it at a quaint inn on the west coast of Ireland!
A Week in Winter is about the people who are the first visitors to stay at Chicky Starr’s inn: Stone House. Binchy laid out the setting telling the reader how Chicky ended up rehabbing an old home into a lovely inn. Each chapter is about a different guest or couple who come to spend a week. So the novel is more a collection of connected stories that wraps up neatly at the end.
The characters are similar in tone to most of Binchy’s throughout her novels. I appreciated that. While I’m more a fan of her earlier novels over the recent ones I’d still recommend reading A Week in Winter. Binchy passed away shortly after finishing the book. It was a lovely final gift to her readers.
- Title: A Week in Winter
- Author: Maeve Binchy
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Published: February 2013 (US) – Knopf
- Source: I bought it.