A Week in Winter [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...

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A Week in Winter

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Overview

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. 

This ebook edition includes photos from the landscape of A WEEK IN WINTER and a Reading Group Guide. 

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The last thing that residents in Stoneybridge expected in their sleepy little town was a bread & breakfast, but Chicky Starr's crazy idea to somehow transform a decrepit mansion into a tourist spot turned out finally to be a success. In truth, not all the visitors to the Irish seacoast village were quite prepared for what they found or, for that matter, with each, but there was something about the calming breezes of rhythms of rural life that often brought them peace. With its subtle touches and diverse characters, Maeve Binchy's new novel will please her readers and win her new ones.

Publishers Weekly
03/04/2013
This less-than-thrilling final work (after Minding Frankie) in the late Irish novelist’s prolific oeuvre tells the life stories of a cast of characters that show up for a week’s stay at a bed and breakfast called Stone House. The house is located in the idyllic village of Stoneybridge on western Ireland’s "wet and wild and lonely" Atlantic coast. Binchy begins with the hotel’s founder and proprietor, Chicky Starr, whose life hasn’t turned out the way she’d hoped. Several disparate narratives overlap and intermingle in various ways, as the reader views the characters——who each receive their own chapter——from the others’ perspectives. Binchy encapsulates the lives of her characters with such authority and so completely that there is little room for mystery or urgency. The reader gets the sense that all of the intrigue has been removed from the characters’ unique yet matter-of-fact lives. The novel, however, is welcome territory for those looking for a feel-good read, and as Binchy writes, no matter how awry their lives seem to go, "It was all going to be fine." (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Delightful. . . . Radiates the warmth and charm that fans will recognize and relish.” —USA Today

“A hopeful, loving novel chronicling lives shaped by good deeds, small favors, and honest counsel along the rocky crags of the Irish coast.” —The Daily Beast

“A gratifying, blustery read full of rich characters, a sea-spray setting and a compelling plot that carries the reader from start to end.” —Wichita Eagle
 
“Reading this novel is like ducking out of a cold rain into a fire-warmed pub filled with laughter.” —People

“If you read this book you will feel like you know every rock and view in Stoneybridge, and will likely wish you could visit this bleak-but-mesmerizing place, perhaps even in winter. . . . If you love Binchy's quiet stories, you will not be disappointed with this one.” —Huffington Post

“A restorative read.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Spell-binding. . . . Shows [Binchy] at the height of her powers.” —IrishCentral

“Maeve Binchy has once again created fully realized characters in quick, short strokes. . . . [The book contains] a philosophy of common sense and wisdom, both of which we’ve come to expect from Binchy.” —The Toronto Star

“All the characters spring to vivid life on the page, and all the stories are engaging.” —The Irish Times

“Heartwarming and spirit restoring. . . . In classic Binchy-style, the gentle story is populated with a large cast of often eccentric, always endearing characters. . . . Stone House, a country inn on the West Coast of Ireland serves as the cozy setting for these interrelated tales of love, loss, friendship, and community. . . . Pour yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up, and prepare to savor this bit of comfort food for the soul.” —Booklist

“Welcome territory for those looking for a feel-good read.” —Publishers Weekly

“Classic Binchy. . . . Peek[s] into the lives of characters from various walks of life brought together at a newly opened inn on the West Coast of Ireland.” —Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
Located in western Ireland on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Stone House is run down and neglected. When Chicky Starr decides to buy the property and turn it into a hotel, the town thinks she’s gone crazy. The project brings unexpected peace and understanding to Chicky and her staff, and after months of tireless work, Stone House is ready for business. The first out-of-towners arrive with disappointment, disgrace, and doubt, but nearly all experience a catharsis on the cliffs and trails and in the gardens that can be found in the surrounding countryside.

Verdict Written in a style similar to that in Whitethorn Woods, this title features Binchy’s unsurpassed storytelling as she weaves together the lives and experiences of her characters. Finished shortly before Binchy’s death in 2011, this final offering will please many of the author’s fans, but some may be disappointed that it isn’t on a par with her earlier works. While it may not be Binchy’s best, this tale of love, friendship, redemption, growing up, and moving on is a lovely swan song for the beloved author. [200,000-copy first printing.]—Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
The beloved, prolific Binchy's posthumous last novel is classic Binchy (Minding Frankie, 2011, etc.), peeking into the lives of characters from various walks of life brought together at a newly opened inn on the West Coast of Ireland. After 20 years in America and pretending she's been widowed by an American husband she never actually married, Chicky returns to her hometown of Stoneybridge to turn an elderly spinster's run-down cliffside mansion into an inn. To help renovate Stone House, she hires her childhood friend Nuala's son, Rigger, whose history of delinquency has made Nuala desperate to remove him from Dublin, where she's raised him as a single mother. Soon, Rigger is morally reformed and in love. To run the business end, Chicky hires her niece Orla, whose life in London has soured. Together, they get the place ready for the first week of paying guests: 34-year-old nurse Winnie arrives trapped into a vacation with her boyfriend's sophisticated, disapproving mother. A famous American actor takes advantage of a missed flight connection to escape the trappings of stardom for a week. Married doctors come for a respite from their crippling if unwarranted sense of responsibility for the terrible deaths they have witnessed. The heir to a Swedish accounting firm, who has set his father's expectations above his own love of music, comes to Stoneybridge to look up a musician friend. A husband and wife, whose lives together revolve around entering contests, consider their week at Stone House a disappointing consolation prize compared to the trip to Paris they didn't win. A retired girls' school principal receives the Stoneybridge vacation as a retirement gift she refuses to enjoy. And a clairvoyant librarian in love with a married man comes for a week to recover from her broken heart and avoid her second sight. While Binchy's stories are sketchier than usual, perhaps understandably rushed, her fans will find solace as hearts mend and relationships sort themselves out one last time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385350082
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/12/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 2,616
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy is the author of numerous best-selling books, including her most recent novels, Minding Frankie, Heart and Soul, and Whitethorn Woods, as well as Circle of Friends and Tara Road, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She has written for Gourmet; O, The Oprah Magazine; Modern Maturity; and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. Married to Gordon Snell, she lived in Dalkey, Ireland, until her death in July 2012 at the age of seventy-two, shortly after finishing this book.

Biography

If storytelling is an art, then Maeve Binchy is unquestionably one of today's master artists. After all, Binchy was born, educated, and lives in Ireland, a land well known for its great storytellers. Firmly grounded in the Irish storytelling tradition, Binchy has earned a sizeable following of enthusiastic fans for her 11 novels and 4 collections of short stories. I had a very happy childhood, which is unsuitable if you're going to be an Irish writer," Maeve jokes. Perhaps that happy childhood is why Binchy did not publish her first novel until she was 43 years old. But there's no doubt that once she did she proved herself to be an immensely talented, multiple New York Times-bestselling author. her name.

Binchy was introduced into the joys of storytelling at an early age. Her mother, Maureen, and father, William, a prominent Dublin barrister, encouraged Binchy and her three siblings to be avid readers as well as to share stories at dinner and, as her brother William admits, nobody loved telling stories more than Maeve.

Growing up in the quiet seaside town of Dalkey, located about 10 miles south of Dublin, Binchy also found herself dreaming of escape. "I love Dalkey now," she says, "but when I was young, I thought it was somewhat like living in the desert." Her desire to escape led her first to the big city, to the University College in Dublin, where she studied history and French. After graduating in 1960, she taught Latin, French, and history in a Dublin grade school and was able to indulge her love of traveling during summer vacations. She proved so popular a teacher that parents of her students pooled their money to send her on a trip to Israel. Her father was so impressed by the letters she wrote describing Israeli life that he typed them up and sent them to the Irish Independent newspaper. That's how Maeve returned home to find, quite to her surprise, that she was now a published writer.

Using her newfound interest in journalism, she got a job on The Irish Times as the women's editor, an unlikely role for her, she jokingly acknowledges, given her hopeless lack of fashion sense. In the early 70s, she shifted to feature reporting, and moved to London. The move was motivated only in part by her career. Making the kind of bold life-altering decision that many of her characters are prone to, Binchy decided to take a chance and move to London to be with the man she'd fallen in love with during a previous visit—Gordon Snell, a BBC broadcaster, children's book author, and mystery novelist.

The risk, as it often does in her novels, paid off big time. Maeve married Gordon in 1977, and the two remain happily married to this day. In 1980, they bought a one-bedroom cottage back in Binchy's old hometown of Dalkey. Struggling to make mortgage payments on their new home, Binchy, who had published two collections of her newspaper work and one of short stories, decided to try to sell her first novel, which she'd managed to write in between her newspaper assignments. When her publisher told her that Light A Penny Candle would likely be a bestseller, Maeve remembers her sense of shock. "I had to sit down," she recalls. "I had never even had enough money to pay the telephone bill."

Maeve and her husband still live in that same Dalkey cottage, where they share an office, writing side by side. "All I ever wanted to do," she says, "is to write stories that people will enjoy and feel at home with." She has unquestionably succeeded with that goal. Light A Penny Candle was followed by such bestselling works as Circle of Friends, which was turned into a major motion picture starring Minnie Driver, and Tara Road, an Oprah Book Club selection. Binchy is consistently named one of the most popular writers in readers' polls in England and Ireland, outselling and rated higher than James Joyce. Of this success, Binchy comments with her typical good humor, "If you're going on a plane journey, you're more likely to take one of my stories than Finnegan's Wake."

In addition to her books, Binchy is also a playwright whose works have been staged at The Peacock Theatre of Dublin, and was the author of a hugely popular monthly column called "Maeve's Week," which appeared in The Irish Times for 32 years. A kind of combined gossip, humor, and advice column, it achieved cult status in Ireland and abroad.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

Good To Know

In our interview, Binchy shared some fun facts about herself with us:

"I am a big, confident, happy woman who had a loving childhood, a pleasant career, and a wonderful marriage. I feel very lucky."

"I have been lucky enough to travel a lot, meet great people in many lands. I have liked almost everyone I met along the way."

"I have always believed that life is too short for rows and disagreements. Even if I think I'm right, I would prefer to apologize and remain friends rather than win and be an enemy."

"I live in Ireland near the sea, only one mile from where I grew up -- that's good, since I've known many of my neighbours for between 50-60 years. Gordon and I play chess every day, and we are both equally bad. We play chatty over talkative bad Bridge with friends every week."

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    1. Hometown:
      Dublin, Ireland, and London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 28, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dalkey, a small village outside Dublin, Ireland
    1. Education:
      Holy Child Convent in Killiney; B.A. in history, University College, Dublin, 1960

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the Hardcover Edition

Chicky

Everyone had their own job to do on the Ryans’ farm in Stoneybridge. The boys helped their father in the fields, mending fences, bringing the cows back to be milked, digging drills of potatoes; Mary fed the calves, Kathleen baked the bread, and Geraldine did the hens.

Not that they ever called her Geraldine—she was “Chicky” as far back as anyone could remember. A serious little girl pouring out meal for the baby chickens or collecting the fresh eggs each day, always saying “chuck, chuck, chuck” soothingly into the feathers as she worked. Chicky had names for all the hens, and no one could tell her when one had been taken to provide a Sunday lunch. They always pretended it was a shop chicken, but Chicky always knew.

Stoneybridge was a paradise for children during the summer, but summer in the West of Ireland was short, and most of the time it was wet and wild and lonely on the Atlantic coast. Still, there were caves to explore, cliffs to climb, birds’ nests to discover, and wild sheep with great curly horns to investigate. And then there was Stone House. Chicky loved to play in its huge overgrown garden. Sometimes the Miss Sheedys, three sisters who owned the house and were ancient, let her play at dressing up in their old clothes.

Chicky watched as Kathleen went off to train to be a nurse in a big hospital in Wales, and then Mary got a job in an insurance office. Neither of those jobs appealed to Chicky at all, but she would have to do something. The land wouldn’t support the whole Ryan family. Two of the boys had gone to serve their time in business in big towns in the West. Only Brian would work with his father.

Chicky’s mother was always tired and her father always worried. They were relieved when Chicky got a job in the knitting factory. Not as a machinist or home knitter but in the office. She was in charge of sending out the finished garments to customers and keeping the books. It wasn’t a great job but it did mean that she could stay at home, which was what she wanted. She had plenty of friends around the place, and each summer she fell in love with a different O’Hara boy but nothing ever came of it.

Then one day Walter Starr, a young American, wandered into the knitting factory wanting to buy an Aran sweater. Chicky was instructed to explain to him that the factory was not a retail outlet, they only made up sweaters for stores or mail order.

“Well, you’re missing a trick then,” Walter Starr said. “People come to this wild place and they need an Aran sweater, and they need it now, not in a few weeks’ time.”

He was very handsome. He reminded her of how Jack and Bobby Kennedy had looked when they were boys, same flashing smile and good teeth. He was suntanned and very different from the boys around Stoneybridge. She didn’t want him to leave the knitting factory and he didn’t seem to want to go either.

Chicky remembered a sweater they had in stock, which they had used to be photographed. Perhaps Walter Starr might like to buy that one—it wasn’t exactly new but it was nearly new.

He said it would be perfect.

He invited her to go for a walk on the beach, and he told her this was one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Imagine! He had been to California and Italy and yet he thought Stoneybridge was beautiful.

And he thought Chicky was beautiful too. He said she was just so cute with her dark curly hair and her big blue eyes. They spent every possible moment together. He had intended to stay only a day or two, but now he found it hard to go on anywhere else. Unless she would come with him, of course.

Chicky laughed out loud at the idea that she should pack in her job at the knitting factory and tell her mother and father that she was going around Ireland hitchhiking with an American that she had just met! It would have been more acceptable to suggest flying to the moon.

Walter found her horror at the idea touching and almost endearing.

“We only have one life, Chicky. They can’t live it for us. We have to live it ourselves. Do you think my parents want me out here in the wilds of nowhere, having a good time? No, they want me in the country club playing tennis with the daughters of nice families, but, hey, this is where I want to be. It’s as simple as that.”

Walter Starr lived in a world where everything was simple. They loved each other, so what was more natural than to make love? They each knew the other was right, so why complicate their lives by fretting over what other people would say or think or do? A kindly God understood love. Father Johnson, who had taken a vow never to fall in love, didn’t. They didn’t need any stupid contracts or certificates, did they?

And after six glorious weeks, when Walter had to think of going back to the States, Chicky was ready to go with him. It involved an immense amount of rows and dramas and enormous upset in the Ryan household. But Walter was unaware of any of this.

Chicky’s father was more worried than ever now because everyone would say that he had brought up a tramp who was no better than she should be.

Chicky’s mother looked more tired and disappointed than ever, and said only God and his sainted mother knew what she had done wrong in bringing Chicky up to be such a scourge to them all.

Kathleen said that it was just as well she had an engagement ring on her finger because no man would have her if he knew the kind of family she came from.

Mary, who worked in the insurance office and was walking out with one of the O’Haras, said that the days of her romance were now numbered, thanks to Chicky. The O’Haras were a very respectable family in the town, and they wouldn’t think kindly about this behavior at all.

Her brother Brian kept his head down and said nothing at all. When Chicky asked him what he thought, Brian said he didn’t think. He didn’t have time to think.

Chicky’s friends—Peggy, who also worked in the knitting factory, and Nuala, who was a maid for the three Miss Sheedys—said it was the most exciting, reckless thing they had ever heard of, and wasn’t it great that she had a passport already from that school trip to Lourdes.

Walter Starr said they would stay in New York with friends of his. He was going to drop out of law school—it wasn’t really right for him. If we had several lives, well then, yes, maybe, but since we only have one life it wasn’t worth spending it studying law.

The night before she left, Chicky tried to make her parents understand her feelings She was twenty, she had her whole life to live, she wanted to love her family and for them to love her in spite of their disappointment.

Her father’s face was tight and hard. She would never be welcome in this house again, she had brought shame on them all.

Her mother was bitter. She said that Chicky was being very, very foolish. It wouldn’t last, it couldn’t last. It was not love, it was infatuation. If this Walter really loved her, then he would wait for her and provide her with a home and his name and a future instead of all this nonsense.

You could cut the atmosphere in the Ryan household with a knife.

Chicky’s sisters were no support. But she was adamant. They hadn’t known real love. She was not going to change her plans. She had her passport. She was going to go to America.

“Wish me well,” she had begged them the night before she left, but they had turned their faces away.

“Don’t let me go away with the memory of you being so cold.” Chicky had tears running down her face.

Her mother sighed a great sigh. “It would be cold if we just said, ‘Go ahead, enjoy yourself.’ We are trying to do our best for you. To help you make the best of your life. This is not love, it’s only some sort of infatuation. There’s no use pretending. You can’t have our blessing. It’s just not there for you.”

So Chicky left without it.

At Shannon Airport there were crowds waving good-bye to their children setting out for a new life in the United States. There was nobody to wave Chicky good-bye, but she and Walter didn’t care. They had their whole life ahead of them.

No rules, no doing the right thing to please the neighbors and relations.

They would be free—free to work where they wanted and at what they wanted.

No trying to fulfill other people’s hopes—to marry a rich farmer, in Chicky’s case, or to become a top lawyer, which was what Walter’s family had in mind for him.

Walter’s friends were welcoming in the big apartment in Brooklyn. Young people, friendly and easygoing. Some worked in bookshops, some in bars. Others were musicians. They came and went easily. Nobody made any fuss. It was so very different from home. A couple came in from the Coast, and a girl from Chicago who wrote poetry. There was a Mexican boy who played the guitar in Latino bars.

Everyone was so relaxed. Chicky found it amazing. Nobody made any demands. They would make a big chili for supper with everyone helping. There was no pressure.

They sighed a bit about their families not understanding anything, but it didn’t weigh heavily on anyone. Soon Chicky felt Stoneybridge fade away a little. However, she wrote a letter home every week. She had decided from the outset that she would not be the one to keep a feud going.

If one side behaved normally, then sooner or later the other side would have to respond and behave normally as well.

She did hear from some of her friends, and had the odd bit of news from them. Peggy and Nuala wrote and told her about life back home; it didn’t seem to have changed much in any way at all. So she was able to write to say she was delighted about the plans for Kathleen’s wedding to Mikey, and did not mention that she had heard about Mary’s romance with Sonny O’Hara having ended.

Her mother wrote brisk little cards, asking whether she had fixed a date for her wedding yet and wondering about whether there were Irish priests in the parish.

She told them nothing about the communal life she lived in the big crowded apartment, with all the coming and going and guitar playing. They would never have been able to begin to understand.

Instead, she wrote about going to art-exhibit openings and theater first nights. She read about these in the papers, and sometimes indeed she and Walter went to matinees or got cheap seats at previews through friends of friends who wanted to fill a house.

Walter had a job helping to catalog a library for some old friends of his parents. His family had hoped to woo him back this way to some form of academic life, he said, and it wasn’t a bad job. They left him alone and didn’t give him any hassle. That’s all anyone wanted in life.

Chicky learned that this was definitely all Walter wanted in life. So she didn’t nag him about when she would meet his parents, or when they would find a place of their own, or indeed what they would do down the line. They were together in New York. That was enough, wasn’t it?

And in many ways it was.

Chicky got herself a job in a diner. The hours suited her. She could get up very early, leave the apartment before anyone else was awake. She helped open up the diner, did her shift and served breakfasts. She was back at the apartment before the others had struggled into the day, bringing them cold milk and bagels left over from the diner’s breakfast stock. They got used to her bringing them their supplies. She still heard news from home but it became more and more remote.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Why is Chicky attracted to Walter? Why does she defy her mother’s doubts and admonitions about going to New York [p. 6]? “Reality was, for Chicky, this whole fantasy world that she had invented of a bustling, successful Manhattan lifestyle” [p. 9]. Do Chicky’s deceptions blind her to Walter’s true character? Does she love him?  What other feelings might explain her pleas to him to stay [p. 11]? 

2. After Walter leaves, Chicky vows she will never go back to Stoneybridge. Is she motivated by pride and stubbornness or does her decision reflect realistic concerns about the reactions her return is likely to generate? How do her periodic visits home influence her feelings about her family and Stoneybridge [p. 15]?

3. Step-by-step, Chicky takes charge of her life in New York. What character traits help her succeed? Discuss Mrs. Cassidy’s observations when Chicky leaves for Stoneybridge after twenty years in New York [p. 22-23].  In what ways does Chicky’s temperament, as well as her skills, prepare her for life as an innkeeper?

4. In Winnie and Lillian’s antagonistic relationship, which woman initially has the upper hand and why?  How does Teddy’s behavior affect their opinions and interactions? What do they learn about each other when they are trapped in the cave? What do they learn about themselves?

5. Why is John eager to hide his true identity during his stay at Stone House?  What advantages does he enjoy as an actor and what toll has his career taken on his personal life? Do you think he represents a majority of celebrities? Are Orla’s insights about the nature of fame persuasive [pp. 155-60]? 

6. Henry and Nicola are shaken by the deaths they have seen as doctors. Why have their attempts to create satisfying careers been futile? What does the prospect of practicing in Stoneybridge offer them both personally and professionally?

7. What does Anders’s story convey about the difficulties of making a choice when one is faced with a conflict between duty and desire? How do his mother’s and Erika’s actions and advice, as well as his relationship with his father, influence him?  What aspects of his experiences in Ireland help him to clarify his goals? What does his conversation with Chicky reveal about the way we ultimately make decisions [pp. 226-27]?

8. The description of the Walls and their obsession with contests is at once humorous and touching. What does their story demonstrate about the foundations of a loving long-term marriage?  How do their enthusiasms change and enrich the experiences of the group at the inn? 

9. Nell Howe is the only guest unmoved by the charms of Stone House. What accounts for her resistance to the atmosphere at the inn and her critical opinions of her fellow guests? What do her conversations with Rigger [pp. 271-72] and Carmel [pp. 296-98] reveal about her and the reasons she is unable or unwilling to bond with other people? Does her stay at Stone House change her in any way?

10. Why does Freda try to ignore or repress the visions she has?  How do they interfere with her everyday life and her hopes and plans for the future?  Even without her special “feelings,” is she foolish to embark on a love affair with Mark?  Why does she decide to tell a “group of strangers” [p. 323] about her psychic powers?  Reread the predictions she makes  [p. 324]. Which of them do you think will come true?

11. Talk about how Binchy introduces each of the guests at Stone House.  How does she pique your interest in them? Which character makes the strongest first impression? Which one takes the longest to get to know?

12. Anders tells himself,  “Problems don’t solve themselves neatly like that, due to a set of coincidences. Problems are solved by making decisions” [p. 224].  Discuss how the various stories in A Week in Winter confirm or belie this observation.

13. Minor characters are an important part of A Week in Winter. What do Miss Queenie, Orla, and Rigger and Carmel contribute to the novel? What insights do their behavior, attitudes, and ambitions provide into the connections as well as the conflicts between traditional and contemporary Irish culture and society? Why does Nuela refuse to see her son, Rigger? What makes her change her mind?

14. Binchy is well known for making the landscape of rural Ireland as vital as the characters in her novels. What descriptions of the countryside and the coast in the wintertime are particularly vivid or evocative? How do they help set the mood of the narrative?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 328 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013

    Another Maeve masterpiece! Once again, she has managed to wind

    Another Maeve masterpiece! Once again, she has managed to wind the stories of very diverse people into a cohesive yarn. If you've read other Binchy novels, you may have noticed that, in the last several novels she wrote, she's picked up characters and places from former books. Although in this book, those former characters and places are less a part of the current story, you'll smile as you recognize a few of them. Remember Quentin's in Dublin? It's still doing well! And Holly's Hotel in Wicklow? It's also continued to succeed - perhaps too much. You'll also find Fiona and a couple of her friends,visit St. Jarlath's Crescent, and even Rossmore. Yet you'll spend almost all of your time with this book in west Ireland, where you'll meet several new characters, each of whom has an engaging story to share - and you'll find yourself wishing to hear their next chapters! Like a fine chef, Binchy has treated her readers to a full-course meal, ending her career with a scrumptious dessert. And like all great chefs, she'll send you away with your mouth watering for the next meal - if only she were still here to prepare it!


    64 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    BINCHY WAS THE BEST!!!! I have been reading the writings of Maev

    BINCHY WAS THE BEST!!!! I have been reading the writings of Maeve Binchy since 1981 when I discovered her mastery of story telling whilst I was quite pregnant. This last book crafted by her is once again a masterpiece of wonderful fiction! She has interwoven new and previous characters into this novel with exceptional grace and wit. Once opened to the first page, you will find this very hard to put down until finished!

    And once again, as with all Maeve Binchy novels, it will leave you craving for more! Thank you, Ms. Binchy for the many years of enjoyment you have given me. You will be sadly missed.

    24 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I loved this book and am sad it is the last. Maeve Binchy was b

    I loved this book and am sad it is the last. Maeve Binchy was blessed with the ability to make her characters come alive. I also love the way places and people from previous books pop up. I hope somebody can suggest a similar author for me.

    Ms Binchy may be gone, but I'll always remember her with great fondness.

    23 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2013

    This is to counter anyone who would actually rate a book accordi

    This is to counter anyone who would actually rate a book according to bad delivery service !!!!!

    19 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2013

    Ive read all of Maeve Binchy's books and I think A Week in Winte

    Ive read all of Maeve Binchy's books and I think A Week in Winter is one of my favorites. She has a way of drawing in characters from previous books that are easy to recall and she introduces us to new characters that we grow to love. Would love to visit a Stoneybridge for a week in a winter. May never leave. Sadly, this is our last treasure from Mrs Binchy and I will miss her and I have framed a post card that she sent years ago. Ive learned from her that for certain-everyone has a story and her characters are brought to life. Rest in Peace, dear lady. From Sandy Brown Poplar Bluff Missouri USA

    17 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    Wonderful writer

    All the familiar elements, lovely and satisfying, she will be missed

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    A very enjoyable read

    Have loved all of Maeve's books and this one-her last is a joy to treasure. Sad that she is gone and will not have us looking forward to her excellent way of captivating her readers and anxiously awaiting her next book

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Lovely story!

    Another great read from this wonderful author. So wish there could be more about these characters.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    This was a great book. Her stories always made you want more.

    This was a great book. Her stories always made you want more. I loved the way some of the characters would show up again (and continue) in the next book. You could almost see some of the people in this book continuing on. It's a shame there won't be any more and I will miss her.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    A Must Read

    This was her very best. I didn't want the story to end. Her last book before her death! I have enjoyed all her books so will start reading them again in a few years. Great book for discussion groups.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    The best part of this book is the characters. Each chapter is d

    The best part of this book is the characters. Each chapter is devoted to a single character, and you really get to know them like old friends. But there is very little that actually ties the characters together, or to any real story besides staying at the same hotel during the same week. I wish there was more of a storyline weaved through the book that tied it all together.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Maeve Binchy can "paint" characters in the most believable way. Her stories always give insights into the thoughts and actions of others. This is done in the most believable way.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    Excellent!

    I hadn't read any Mauve Binchy in years. When I heard she had passed, I thought I would order her last book. It was wonderful. I remembered why I had loved her books so many years ago. I think I will now fill in with some I had missed. She was her best at character study. Highly recommend. Polly

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2013

    HIghly recommended

    Classic Maeve Binchly- While reading you find yourself in Ireland- enjoying the scenery and totally involved with her characters

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2013

    I very highly recommend this book and CD

    Maeve Binchy will be so missed by all who loved her work these many years. She writes so that the reader feels they are good friends with all her characters and can't wait to see what they do next. This book is a wonderful final legacy to this great Irish author. We meet and love the countryside and the people who inhabit it from Stoneyridge to Dublin. The story is one of so many people of all ages finding their walks in life and showing us the beauty of the wilds of the Irish seashore. Thank you Maeve for so marvelously completing the journey.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2013

    Maeve Binchy's last book...A MUST READ

    While this last book of Maeve Binchy's was an excellant read, I found it to be somewhat similar to Rosamund Pilcher's 'Winter Solstice.' A B&B and how it was brought to be and the background of how the first weeks guests came to the B&B and how their week ends. I have read every single book of Maeve Binchy from Light a Penny Candle (I was quite young then and it was a Reader's Digest Condensed Book) all the way through to 'A Week in Winter'. Ms. Binchy never dissappointed me. She always drew me into her characters and to the Irish culture. God Bless Maeve Binchy. May she rest in peace. I will truely miss looking forward to future books.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2013

    Highly recommend.

    This is a wonderful book. I have read all her books. I'm sorry this will be her last one. I would highly recommend.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2013

    The last words from this gentle author.

    It was difficult to conclude this book, completed a mere days before Binchy's death as I know this is the last delight I will receive from this quiet, yet wise author who has the ability to see others without judgment. As in so many of her other books, Binchy creates situations where her characters, often deeply flawed, survive and thrive. I wish Maeve Binchy had written the story of my life.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2013

    A Week In Winter is the 17th novel by popular Irish author, Maev

    A Week In Winter is the 17th novel by popular Irish author, Maeve Binchy, and was completed days before she died. It is the story of an old family home (Stone House) on the West coast of Ireland, which is turned into a hotel where guests find a warm welcome and the peace to face their troubles. Binchy’s strength is her characters and their interactions, and she gives a potted history of the crew (Queenie Sheedy, Chicky Starr, Chicky’s niece Orla, Chicky’s friend Nuala’s son, Rigger and his young wife, Carmel ) and the cast of guests (nursing sister Winnie and her formidable prospective mother-in-law, Lillian, American actor, Corry Salinas, doctors Henry and Nicola, Swedish accountant Anders Almkvist, competition aficionados, Ann and Charlie Wall, retired headmistress, Miss Howe and librarian, Freda) as she weaves their stories together. Along the way, Binchy gives beloved characters from many previous novels a small cameo or a mention, a device that always delights fans, who come to think of her books as a comfort, like a favourite pullover and a warm cuppa. These novels have that distinctly Irish feel and one can almost hear the Irish lilt in the dialogue. Binchy’s characters always have plenty of depth and appeal, and face real life problems and dilemmas. But for Binchy’s death, this could easily have become a series along the lines of Macomber’s Rose Harbour. Wonderful, as always.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    Silentkit

    Ok.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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