“A Week in Winter” by Maeve Binchy

This is Maeve Binchy’s last book (she died in 2012), and it is surely one of her best.

The beloved Irish writer published sixteen books of fiction before this new one, “A Week in Winter”. Records show more than 40 million books sold. The Winnipeg Free Press defines her success: “Binchy is a skillful writer who combines the strong storyline of popular fiction with well-developed characters found in serious literature.”

What that means in “A Week in Winter” is that we get the stories of ten visitors to a picturesque building called The Stone House, high on the cliffs of Ireland’s west coast, as well as the story of the building itself. It belonged to three sisters who loved it but could not keep it up. Another woman of the village, Geraldine (Chicky) Starr had left Ireland for a long period in New York City, where she worked in a tough boarding house. After many trips back to Ireland, she decided to buy The Stone House, and turn it into a hotel. The run-down mansion got a big, warm kitchen and log fires, with a long table where guests could get together.

These guests tell their own stories in Binchy’s skillful book and the reader is drawn in to their hopes and dreams. Chicky Starr’s kindness, combined with sharp business sense, pull the stories together. It makes for a fine read, and altogether excellent book for Christmas.

Review by Anne McDougall