I’d been eying this book ever since I saw in on the BN website, but had to wait for it’s February release date. Luckily, I remembered it after I finished this one, and read it straight through a Friday and Saturday morning. The setting of coastal Ireland and the restoration of a seaside mansion immediately grabbed my interest. With a solid four stars and rave reviews of the author Maeve Binchy, I pressed purchase on my nook and settled in with a blanket. A Week in Winter sounded perfect…and it practically was.
Chicky Starr grew up in Stoneybridge, Ireland and always felt she needed to escape the small town. Her family was less than pleased when she fell in love with a traveling American and disowned her when she made plans for New York. When her life in New York changed for the worse however, she created an illusion to keep her motivated for a better future. Chicky worked hard, saved her money, and eventually decided to move back to Stoneybridge and make something of herself and the town. With the help of regal spinster Miss Queenie, Chicky buys a fixer-upper mansion and begins her journey of converting it into a hotel. As she works with architects, construction workers and designers, Chicky builds a solid team to help run the estate. Including a childhood friend’s delinquent son, techie niece and friendly black cat, Chicky and Miss Queenie establish the perfect retreat for a winter getaway.
The book is divided into ten chapters, each centered on one character. As the Stone House nears its open, readers meet the first guests booked for a week in winter. Some are brought together by a mutual acquaintance; another misses a layover at Shannon Airport. Others come to escape the tragedies they can’t stop thinking about, and still more aren’t sure why they are there in the first place. It is evident that everyone needs to discover something about themselves, for better or for worse, and Stone House is just the place for it.
A Week in Winter had me reminiscing of my own time in Ireland, and had me dreaming for a return trip. The Stone House is as idyllic as fiction can get, and I absolutely ate it up. Little cottages, garden-grown vegetables, rooms overlooking the sea, this novel is the perfect escape for anyone feeling cooped up with winter blues. Chicky Starr is self-assured and compassionate, and her day-to-day schedule is the stuff of dreams. Preserves with hand-painted labels, fresh pastries, and bird-watching help make this book as lovely as ever. Maeve Binchy weaved a wonderful story full of realistic, but light characters and has me wanting to read my way through her extensive list of works. I highly recommend A Week in Winter if you are craving an Irish holiday spent on your sofa. It will have you craving the real thing!
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