Set in a bed and breakfast on the Irish coast, A Week in Winter follows the lives of innkeeper Chicky Starr, her niece Orla, family friend Rigger and a group of strangers who find their way to Stone House. Binchy has given each character a separate chapter, allowing the reader to discover their back stories.
Each evening, I found myself curling up with a different character and reading with anticipation as Binchy applied her familiar formula. She once said, “I don’t have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.”
I was most fascinated by Chicky Starr. After surviving a disastrous love affair, she concocted a fantasy about her life in New York and kept the fantasy alive for two decades. When she returned to Stoneybridge, she purchased a dilapidated estate and, against all odds, turned it into a successful small hotel.
The colorful cast of characters include the following…
Thirty-four-year-old Winnie has found her soul mate but must deal with his overbearing mother.
Corry, an aging movie star, must learn how to embrace and share his fame.
Two married doctors, Henry and Nicola, are still grieving several unfortunate deaths while yearning for a child.
Anders, a Swiss accountant, has abandoned his passion for music and the only woman he ever loved to please his father.
Nell Howe, a retired school principal, faces a bleak and lonely life.
Freda, the librarian, must learn to accept and value her psychic abilities.
The Walls, a married couple, struggle with their second-place win: a week at Stone House.
An impressive collection of linked short stories that can be easily described as a Maeve Binchy’s final tribute to Irish family life. Excellent reading, especially on cold, blustery January days.