Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

When Chicky Starr decides to leave New York and buy an old mansion in her hometown of Stoneybridge in Ireland, people in town aren’t sure what inspired the decision, or, in fact, if she can pull it off.  Chicky left Stoneybridge years ago with a man she loved, dreaming they’d be married but instead facing the city alone after only a few months.  A self-reliant woman, she finds a job and provides for herself, though she can’t admit to her family that she never married the man she left her home for.  When she returns many years later as a “widow,” she makes the dubious decision to buy Stone House and fix it up as a cozy inn for those seeking an Irish holiday.

With the help of the house’s original owner, Queenie; reformed criminal youth turned manager, Rigger; and niece Orla, Chicky sets to the task of creating a seaside haven in time for the first guests to arrive.  As the story unfolds, the life of each guest is brought to focus as Binchy weaves together these vignettes into a tapestry with one common thread – the idea of searching for something in life, whether it be answers, or redemption, or happiness.

As with most Maeve Binchy books, I enjoyed the attention to detail and the rich and colorful backstory given to the characters, the setting, and the plot.  Each chapter is devoted to a character’s story, and in doing so it begins to seem fated that this motley crew would come together for Stone House’s opening week.  This book reminded me a bit of Nights of Rain and Stars in the way she takes a seemingly unconnected group of holiday guests and weaves their stories together.  My only complaint about the book (and it was minor) is that it almost felt like there were too many stories – because Binchy’s writing is so rich, I found myself wanting to know more, and there were so many points of view that doing so would have been next to impossible.  But all in all, I recommend this book for all Binchy fans as well as those looking for a nice cozy read.

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