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A Week in Winter
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A Week in Winter
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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...
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...
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Description-

  • 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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Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Excerpted from the Hardcover EditionChicky

    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...

About the Author-

  • 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.



Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 4, 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."

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 1, 2013
    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.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2013
    Published posthumously, the late great Binchy's last novel is an appropriately heartwarming and spirit-restoring swan song. In classic Binchy style, the gentle story is populated with a large cast of often eccentric, always endearing, characters who effortlessly weave their way in and out of a deceptively simple narrative. Stone House, a country inn on the West Coast of Ireland, is owned and operated by Chicky Starr, a Stoneybridge native lately returned after living a largely lonely life in the U.S., and it serves as the cozy setting for these interrelated tales of love, loss, friendship, and community. Specializing in winter holidays, Stone House plays host to a variety of guests whose lives are bound to change for the better once they succumb to both its vintage charms and the restorative powers of companionship and human kindness. Pour yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up, and prepare to savor this bit of comfort food for the soul. High-Demand Backstory: The late Binchy's last hurrah does not disappoint; expect even more demand than usual for this final love letter to her legion of fans.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • People "Fittingly, this posthumously published work by Ireland's beloved lady of letters is itself a love letter to her homeland. . . Binchy offers a final chance to enjoy her winning characters and the charm of Irish culture. . . Reading this novel is like ducking out of a cold rain into a fire-warmed pub filled with laughter."
  • Mary Cadden, USA Today "Lovely. . . Tailor-made for an afternoon jaunt through the backcountry of western Ireland. . . Binchy's last novel radiates the warmth and charm that fans of the late Irish author will recognize and relish. . . . [her] prose is conversational, comfortable and populated with a cast of colorful characters that run the gamut from droll to dry. . . a delightful diversion."
  • Booklist "The late great Binchy's last novel is an appropriately heartwarming and spirit restoring swan song. 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."
  • Kirkus "Classic Binchy. . . her fans will find solace as hearts mend and relationships sort themselves out one last time."

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