A Week in Winter takes place in Stoneybridge on the west coast of Ireland. It is the last book written by one of the world's best-loved writers, Maeve Binchy. She passed away in 2012. I have read all of her novels beginning with Light a Penny Candle and each novel was a gem.
Chicky lived in the village of Stoneybridge with her parents. There she met an American man named Walter Starr and fell in love. She left her home in Ireland and went to New York and married Walter. Sadly, her marriage was over and she found herself alone and jobless. She returned to Stoneybridge with a heavy heart, She was ashamed to tell her family about the mess she was in. She found work at Mrs. Cassidy's boarding house, where she once worked and tells Mrs. Cassidy the shame she feels and asks her what she could do about it. Mrs. Cassidy convinces her to make up a story and that is exactly what Chicky does. Chicky loves being back home and one day, while out for a walk, she bumps into Miss Queenie Sheedy. The three Sheedy sisters lived in a mansion called Stone House, but two of the sisters died and Miss Queenie was now the sole owner. Frail and lonely without her two sisters, she tells Chicky that she always hoped that Chicky would return home and take over the mansion and turn it into a hotel. The mansion was in disrepair and Miss Queenie could no longer afford the upkeep and at this stage in her life, she didn't need a lot of money. She would sell the mansion to Chicky for whatever she could afford to pay on condition that she turn it into a hotel and that Miss Queenie could live there for the rest of her life. An arrangement was made and Chicky immediately gets to work.
Chicky began hiring a few people like Rigger, the son of a woman who used to work for Miss Queenie. Rigger was once a bad boy, but he had changed his ways, married a fine woman named Carmel and turned out to be a good man and an asset to Chicky. Her niece, Orla, was a computer whiz and she installed all the systems needed to make a hotel run well. Chicky could also cook up a storm. Miss Queenie gave all her furniture and antiques to add her touch to the decor and even Miss Queenie's cat,Gloria, added a special something to the decor. After the work was completed, Stone House was now an upscale inn, where guests could come and relax, sleep in elegant rooms, eat wonderful food, enjoy the view, the log fires, long walks and enjoy the local pubs in the village. Stone House is situated on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and now open for business. Chicky advertised the opening in the newspapers and online and soon after, she received bookings.
Among the guests were the following -
The first guest was Winnie, a nurse, who was supposed to come with her boyfriend, Teddy, but ends up with Teddy's mother, Lillian Hennessy.
John (aka Corry Salinas), a famous American actor, who is incognito. He missed his flight.
Henry and his wife, Nicola, two doctors from England. They have a problem to work out.
Miss Nell Howe, a retired teacher, who received this trip as a retirement gift from the staff of her school.
Anders has a big problem to deal with. He dislikes working in his father's business and would much prefer to do his own thing. He has a talent for music.
The Walls, Ann and Charlie, won this trip to Stone House as a second prize and were disappointed. They would have preferred the first prize. The first prize was a trip to Paris.
Freda O'Donovan, a librarian, fears her psychic powers.
All the guests that arrive at the hotel/inn tell their stories in chapters in the book. All these stories are woven together, when the guests gather at the dinner table.
The first week at Stone House was a huge success. Friendships were made and problems were solved and now the new guests were arriving.
I would have loved spending a week at Stone house sitting near the fireplace relaxing, eating wonderful food, meeting the dynamic Chicky and Miss Queeny, meeting the guests and just getting away from all the hustle and bustle of a big city.
I loved every minute of this book and didn't want it to end, because there would never be another Maeve Binchy book in the future. I will never forget the pleasure I received from every one of Maeve Binchy's novels.
on March 18, 2013
I simply loved this book as all of Maeve Binchy's work, because it is, as always a breath of fresh air. It is profound yet lighthearted. She can so wisely take life's simple events & turn them into something special & inspiring. Without being moralistic at all, Maeve can bring us to our own personal reflections on life & all of it's ups & downs, joys & griefs, truths &" lesser truths". Simply said, I truly enjoy & have enjoyed reading & being inspired & entertained by her, for the past twenty some years now. It is even because of her & her great gift of creating life's wonderful stories, that I can testify that I have discovered the " joy of reading". Thanks Maeve. I most sincerely recommend this book, as all of Mave's books to anyone & everyone who wants to have their soul's tickled with tears of pondering smiles & healing laughter.
From one of Maeve's so many, very grateful fans, June from Qc. Canada.
on August 18, 2013
So lovely to read Maeve's delightful book. So sad its her last but she did a remarkable job. Its delightful. All revolves around the coast of Ireland and Stone House, full of descriptive references to the waves, the beach and the local wildlife. Ahh, you think you are there. The characters are diverse and memorable and she brilliantly brings them all together at the end.
If you feel the need for an easy, gentle read. Get this one. You will not be disappointed.
on March 1, 2015
This book came highly recommended and I am glad I followed through and read it. I had never even heard of the author, Irish born Maeve Binchy, and was equally impressed by her easy writing style, her knowledge of her native land as well as her in-depth description of issues, characters and locations.
I’m not sure what her ‘usual style’ is – many a writer tries his/her hand on various techniques – but in this book Maeve reserves an extended chapter on each and every character involved … and somehow manages to link them all together, too. One such section may cover part of a story and then leave the reader to wonder what exactly happened, only for it to be picked up in another story, not only completing the tale but also neatly fitting in into the overall storyline.
While most of the characters are based in Ireland and/or of Irish birth, the plots reach worldwide – from as close as England to as far away as Australia. Equally, some of the people involved and/or described were born and lived abroad, yet they all come together very naturally and fit right in. Such is the brilliance of Maeve Binchy, a 30 year published author who won a number of awards and sadly passed before this, her last book, was published. The book world and, no doubt, her current and future readers will miss her writing.
"Love suffers long and is kind;" -- 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NKJV)
A Week in Winter is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time, and with good reason: It's a superb book. More than that, it's a book filled with encouraging perspectives on how to recover from mistakes and move onto doing the right thing. Maeve Binchy loves her characters, even the ones who ignore the chances she provides to be redeemed. If you feel that the whole world is against you, pull out this book and read or reread it. Your spirits will be raised.
It's difficult to give a full sense of this book without spoiling it a bit. I'll do my best to avoid such an error here.
A new hotel on the Western coast of Ireland is open for its first week, having just finished being converted from being a private home. The owner and the staff are described in terms of their past lives and hopes for this hotel. In the book, you'll meet all of the guests, learn their back stories, and find out what happens to them during what for most will be a momentous week of self-discovery. The interactions among the characters are just delightful, showing the kind of caring attention that we should all provide to one another.
The back stories are quite varied, providing lots of room for reflection and surprises. And naturally, the hotel itself and its environs provide the context for a number of interesting events and epiphanies.
Anyone who has loved Maeve Binchy's past books will only have one complaint about A Week in Winter: It's not long enough!
Brava, Ms. Binchy!
on August 18, 2013
Like so many other reviewers, I loved this book just as I had all previous Maeve Binchy books but it was sad knowing it was the last one. What a treat it was to read of characters from her other novels within this one. She weaves them together seamlessly and creates a pleasant memory of them all living in the Irish countryside. It ended true to form in Binchy's classic style and I shed a tear over the loss of such a wonderful writer as I closed the book. I think it is one I would go back to an re-read just to relive the warm feelings much like you get while reading and enjoying a hot cup of tea wrapped in a hand-knit blanket. If you are a Binchy fan, "A Week in Winter" will not disappoint. Thank you, Maeve <3
on March 19, 2013
I have read all of Maeve Bincheys books. I love the way she weaves some of her characters from previous books into the fabric of each new story. You automatically recognize these fine characters like you would an old friend that you haven't seen for a bit. I would suggest to a first time reader, if you like this book go back to the very first one and start there, at the beginning of the tapestry. Her books are cozy and warm, each character totally believable, both the lovable and unlovable. There are those you root for and those you scorn. I love them all. There were characters in this book that I'm sure would have been in her next book especially the bitter Miss Howe, school principal. We'll never know...
on May 19, 2013
I havve not read one book of Maeve Binchy that I did not like...So sad that she is gone, and there will not be more books from her... A Week in Winter is a beautiful book, about different people, very different characters, different backgrounds, but with their own problems. One can feel the charm of the inn, the ocean nearby the wisdom of the owner.
Maebe Binchy writes naturally and beautifully about the people of Ireland; she loves and understands them, is deeply attached to her country. She touches my heart everytime ! Huguette Gauthier