Released: February 12, 2013
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
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.
Sharing a week with this unlikely cast of characters is pure joy, full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor. Once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.
A WEEK IN WINTER was my first journey into the world of Maeve Binchy, and it was a memorable experience. This book is more a collection of interconnected short stories rather than a usual novel, with their common factor being Stone House in Stoneybridge, Ireland. The setting was amazing! The west coast of Ireland was described in such gorgeous detail that I wanted to be there to hear the waves crashing against the cliffs.
Beginning with the inn’s owner, Chicky Starr, each chapter is about one character (or couple) who has come to Stone House, either as an employee or guest. All of the characters seem to be looking for a sense of peace in their troubled lives, and visiting this enchanted place may help them find it. Each chapter begins with the featured character’s back story, and how his or her path led to a holiday week at Stone House. I enjoyed the author’s engaging writing style and the well-drawn cast she created. The pacing was slow in spots, but overall I was drawn in by my introduction to Ms. Binchy’s gifted storytelling.
A WEEK IN WINTER was a delightful read that left me with a warm, cozy feeling. I’d love to spend a week (or longer) at Stone House, too.
Rating: 3¾ Stars
Do you have a favorite Maeve Binchy novel? If so, please share!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.