Cover image for A week in winter / Maeve Binchy.
Title:
A week in winter / Maeve Binchy.
ISBN:
9781101973769
Publication Information:
New York : Anchor Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, 2016.

©2012
Physical Description:
407 pages ; 18 cm
Abstract:
Stoneyville is a small town on the coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky decides to take an old decaying mansion, Stone House, and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, the town thinks she is crazy. She is helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the place) and her niece Orla (a whiz at business). Finally the first week of paying guests arrive. You will laugh and cry as you spend the week with this odd group who share their secrets and might even have some of their dreams come true.
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Summary

Summary

Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. 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), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and--maybe--even see some of their dreams come true. Full of Maeve's trademark warmth and humor, once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.


Author Notes

Maeve Binchy was born in Dublin, Ireland on May 28, 1940. She received a B.A. from University College in Dublin in 1960. After teaching at a school for girls, she became a journalist, columnist and editor at the Irish Times. By 1979, she was writing plays, a successful television script, and several short story collections.

Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982. During her lifetime, she wrote more than 20 books including Silver Wedding, Scarlet Feather, Heart and Soul, Minding Frankie, and A Week in Winter. The Lilac Bus and Echoes were made into TV movies, while Circle of Friends, Tara Road and How About You were made into feature films. Her title Chestnut Street is a New York Times Best Seller. She died after a brief illness on July 30, 2012 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

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.


Excerpts

Excerpts

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. Excerpted from A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.