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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.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 November 2012
When Chicky meets an American man named Walter and falls in love she finds herself leaving her beloved Ireland to be with him in New York. However her marriage fails and Chicky returns home where circumstances prevailing she opens up a hotel.
I have enjoyed many of the novels written by the late Maeve Binchy, but if I am being honest I have to say that in my opinion it was not as good as some of her other books. On saying that it was an easy and comfortable read full of likeable characters that are very much the trademark of this popular author.
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on 30 November 2012
Took a little while to get into - but didn't want it to end
(especially as its her last book)
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on 30 November 2012
Let me start by saying that Maeve Binchy is without question my favourite author. I was devastated when she died and the one consolation was that a new book was waiting. Maybe because I wanted it to be the most fitting swansong possible my expectations were too high, but I regret to say I was a little disappointed by 'A Week in Winter'. I'd love nothing more than to give it a glowing review - I genuinely want to love it - but there was just something missing compared to her other books. Others reviews have criticised the format (several strands interlinked rather than one cohesive 'story'), but I don't think that's the problem; Maeve Binchy has used that technique several times before and often to great effect. It's more that, while there are several likeable characters in the book, there isn't really one I could say I loved. Chicky Starr comes the closest, but she doesn't have the indefinable quality of a Benny Hogan, Cathy Scarlet or Clare O'Brien; that something that draws you in entirely and makes you genuinely sad when her story ends. It's also shorter than it could have been, with the ending feeling a little rushed and a key plot point never resolved.

I should emphasise that 'A Week in Winter' is far from bad - below par Binchy is better than most authors on top form. I might have given it four stars had anyone else written it. But it's hard not to judge an author on their track record, and I simply can't see myself re-reading this time and time again in the way I have 'Circle of Friends' and 'Light a Penny Candle'. Binchy fans should definitely still read this, but if you're new to her work, I'd recommend trying one of the other titles I mention first.
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on 4 November 2014
Written with the humor and understanding that are trademarks of her writing, Maeve Binchy's final tome A WEEK IN WINTER takes the reader to the west coast of Ireland where a woman named Chicky Starr has returned to her hometown of Stoneybridge and begins to restore an old, decaying mansion and turn it into an inn where folks can come to escape the problems and hustle-bustle of their everyday lives. Once again she has populated her story with a large cast of often endearing, sometimes quirky and always beautifully developed characters that are a joy to get to know. The inn, Stone House, serves as the meeting place for this diverse group of players and even minor characters are an important part of these inter-related stories. Doctors, a psychic, a frustrated musician, a retired headmistress, a couple whose main occupation is entering and winning contests, and of course the bad boy with the heart of gold are just a few of the folks who populate the pages of this enchanting tale.

I have loved Maeve Binchy's books for years. Her gentle, charming tales illustrate the attitudes, ambitions and relationships of her characters while exploring the effects of contemporary and traditional Irish customs and lifestyles on the folks who inhabit and visit her windswept Emerald Isle. Reading her books gives one the warm, cozy feeling felt when visiting an old friend. So snuggle up with the warm beverage of your choice and settle in for A WEEK IN WINTER, another pleasant visit to the time-honored, vivid and definitely unforgettable Binchy style.
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I am a fan of Maeve Binchy and have read most of her novels. In this book, as with all her books, we get a cosy, rose-tinted view of Ireland. It is a land of beautiful scenery and warm-hearted, charming people. It is a world where every problem has a solution and usually the solution is a very simplistic one. When you read this novel it is important to just accept this idealised view of Ireland and just sit back and enjoy the ride. This is a warm-hearted, feel-good read. It is escapist and sometimes that is all you want.

The central character is Chicky who was born in the remote village of Stoneybridge but who moved to America when she was young. She has now returned to her place of birth and has bought an old house which she is converting into a small hotel. We learn about Chicky's past and also about the past of the various members of staff whom she employs. Each of them has a story to tell.

The conversion of the property is finally completed and the hotel is scheduled to open for business in the middle of the winter. On the week in which the hotel opens, a group of disparate people arrive to stay for the week. All of them have a problem in their lives and all of them are seeking a solution. They all hope that in this remote and peaceful place, they will find what they need. The gracious and charming Chicky guides each of them towards a solution.

This then is the crux of the novel - each of the guests tells their own story, in their own words and we empathise with them as they work their way towards a solution.

Altogether this is a very enjoyable read. The various characters are all very real and very believable. If you are prepared to forgive the somewhat simplistic view of the world, you cannot help but enjoy it. For a short period of time you will forget about all the troubles which exist in the real world and simply wallow in the cosy world portrayed in the novel.
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
My reading life was started with Maeve Binchy's books. She gave life to her characters, mostly women who persevered. She was responsible for the strong woman of Ireland finding her place. As stated by a friend who wrote about Binchy at the time of her death.

"Maeve was a master storyteller – everyone agrees on that. But there was so much more to her: she was responsible for social change. At a time when Ireland was a theocracy in all but name, she made Irish women feel that their lives mattered and that their stories were worth telling." Marian Keyes

This new book was her last. It once again follows several families and their disasters and fortunes. Most found their way up the ladder with hard work and strong ethics. This was a woman at the top of her game.

A Week in Winter, is a novel set in a hotel in a fictional west coast of Ireland village called Stoneybridge, with guests who are enjoying - and failing to enjoy - a winter break. The innkeeper, 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. Her niece, Orla, is the businesswoman. Rigger, aka Richard, is her nephew, the boy on the run from Dublin, who turns into the finest of men and the jack of all trades. All of the guests at the Inn have their own stories, some are better than others, but they all reveal the weakness of the human heart. Chicly is the heroine, though she would always deny this feature. Her life was once full,of lies, and now she has made a one, true life for herself. She is the kind of Irish woman that leaves the legacy of Maeve Binchy a rich one.

Recommended. prisrob 02-01-13
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 April 2013
This is a warm and fuzzy, "comfort food" kind of read. It's about an Irish woman, nicknamed "Chicky", who returns to Ireland after many years living in the US and opens a small boutique hotel. The book is essentially about how she gets it going and then tells us the stories of the people who come to stay for the first week. Each chapter deals with a different character and it's really a series of short, interconnected but distinct stories. The people who come to stay are all at crossroads in their lives or are dealing with issues that they feel confused about, and the break away from everyday life in most cases makes a significant difference to them.

It's a very pleasant and undemanding read but ultimately doesn't amount to a lot - no one character is more important than any other and none of the stories really stand out in any way. If anything, the final couple of chapters are the least involving. I did wish that the ending had pulled the disparate threads together more, or that perhaps it had jumped ahead to the reunion that the group talked about having at some stage down the track, to tell us whether things panned out for each character in the way that they anticipated. But having said that, it does have its own charm and it would be the perfect book to take on a holiday.
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on 14 November 2012
.........because it's her last. I feel sad that I'll never again have the pleasure and contentment of opening a new Maeve Binchy. I read it as slowly as I could to make it last. It was as warm and wonderful a read as her other books and existing fans of her work won't be disappointed. New readers of Maeve- I envy you for having all the joy of reading her books still to come.
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on 6 September 2015
I've never read a Maeve Binchy book before and doubt I will again. This is a book with several stories - I couldn't call them plot lines - where ultimately the people featured in each story end up at the same hotel at the same time. The stories built up pictures of each character but then just left them dangling in the air. The ending was the most contrived I have ever read. It's as though the author got so bored with writing the book that she came up with this ridiculous ending just so she could type "The End". A terribly lazy way of trying to tell the reader what the future held for each character. Just ridiculous!
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