Monday, April 22, 2013

A Week in Winter

A Week in Winter –by Maeve Binchy

326 Pages
Footnotes / Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
5 Stars

Maeve Binchy died a few weeks after finishing this novel. She was 72. And I miss her. When I read fiction, I want to escape my world for another world. I don't want to trade my problems for more problems, I just want to visit, and when I close the book, having finished reading all the words, I want to feel better than before I picked up the book in the first place.

Maeve Binchy wrote those kinds of books. I have totally enjoyed every one of them I've read, and look forward to reading or even re-reading others. Her books are not adrenalin gushers, filled with violence (though there might be some here or there), but for the most part, they are filled with people I'd like to call 'Friend' should I ever be introduced to them in real life. Except for the ones who aren't very nice.

A Week in Winter takes place on the West Coast of Ireland, in the small village of Stoneybridge.  The heroine, Chicky, leaves Ireland as a young woman with an American man with whom she is deeply in love. After a while in New York, he moves on, leaving her stranded. She finds a refuge and a job in a boarding house, saves her money, and eventually returns home, a "widow," where she buys an old home atop the cliff overlooking the Atlantic and turns it into a typical Irish hotel, that opens in Winter.

The old home, Stone House, was owned by three spinster sisters, two of whom have died. As a child, Chicky was friendly with them, and when she returns, she not only buys the old house, which has sunk into genteel poverty, she wants Queenie, the remaining sister, to stay and be a part of the project. Queenie is very enthusiastic, especially when she realizes Chicky wants to return it to it's original beauty, with as few changes as possible.

We follow Chicky as she turns the home into a warm and welcoming hotel, literally saves a young man and gives him not only a good job, but a place to live with his new family, and then, when Stone House opens for the first week, we meet the first guests, and see how this old house, and it's proprietor, change the lives of some of the guests.

True to her style, Maeve Binchy brings many disparate people into the book, but by the end, we know who each person is, and where they fit in the story. And they do fit.

Knowing that there will be no new books by Ms. Binchy, I decided to parse this one out, no more than one chapter per night until finished. Had I started it before 8pm last night, I would have read it in one sitting. Alas, sometime after midnight I could no longer focus on the words, so closed the book. Upon arising from bed this morning, I fed the animals, made a pot of coffee, and sat in my favorite place and finished the book. So much for parsing it out. I am so glad she wrote the books she did, and that many of the people appear in other books. They are, truly, 'old friends' with whom I enjoy sharing my time.

Buy these books. Read them. Make new friends. And feel better for having done so.

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