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on 7 January 2018
The first book that I ever remember actually wanting to read as a teenager was Light A Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy, and I, along with my fellow convent school friends, devoured it! After that, I simply had to read anything that she wrote, so I was thrilled to find a book of hers that I hadn't read!!

A Week In Winter is set in the West Coast Of Ireland (which is where my family originate from) and so straight away, reading Maeve's descriptions, I could image the rugged coastline, and crashing waves of the Wild Atlantic Way. I knew immediately that I was going to love this book, and I didn't...I simply ADORED it!! It was better than anything I could imagine.

As ever, Maeve weave's all the storylines together, like a seamstress with golden threads, and the end result is a beautiful patchwork quilt of a book. I don't think anyone can, or will stand up to her writing ability in my eyes, but it could be nostalgia talking.

Chicky Starr is from a small village called Stoneybridge and when she is a young woman, and in love, she decides to follow her dreams (and her man) and go to America. When it all comes crashing down around her, she decides to return home, and along with an old spinster of the parish Miss Queenie they renovate an old mansion and turn it into a thriving B&B.

The rest of the chapters in the book are like short stories, each telling the different tale of guests or employees of the B&B - Rigger, Orla, Winnie, John, Henry and Nicola, Anders, The Walls, Miss Howe and Freda, and they all intertwine to make up a magical story.

On finishing this book, I found out that it was published posthumously following Maeve's death in 2012. It is hard to imagine that the world is now without such a wonderful story teller, however she leaves behind a spectacular legacy, and it seems fitting that every time I go to church, I light a penny candle for Maeve.
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on 19 December 2017
Binchy weaves fascinating tales about Irish folk and this is no exception. By the end I can imagine myself being part of the plot. This is easy reading and a good way to relax without having to concentrate too much on the storyline. Makes a change to my usual book choice of thrillers/murders.
Characters in this are beautifully drawn, captivating and believable; gathered together as visitors to the opening of a hotel in the west of Ireland. Each part of the book recounts why the person/people are at the hotel and their fascinating backgrounds.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 August 2013
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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on 11 January 2018
This is the first of Maeve Binchy's novels that I've read. I saw all the 5-star rave reviews and thought I'd give it a go for my holiday. Unfortunately I couldn't finish it. The characters are so shallow and uninteresting, it's hard to become invested in what happens to them. The story has no depth. I don't really understand the need for irritating names like "Chicky" and "Rigger". Also, for a sizable part of the novel, it's really hard to determine what time period it is set in. When I discovered it was more modern than I originally thought, I was quite surprised, as judging by some of the characters' opinions and actions, you'd think it was the 1950's. Really bizarre and boring read which makes me want to avoid the author's other works.
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on 20 December 2017
The problems that this cross section of characters have are lacking in any depth whatsoever. I can only compare it to a children's tale with a grown up cast. Enjoyable enough and passed a few evenings when sleep was proving elusive.
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on 5 January 2018
I thought I had read all Maeve Binchy books so it was a pleasant surprise to find this one.
Full of I interesting characters written on the same Irish background of joy sadness wit and illogical conversation that only comes from an Irish background. I loved it!
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on 24 December 2017
As always with Maeve Binchy it is such a pleasure to read proper storytelling rather than the currently trending first person narration. No gore, no shocking nastiness , just delicious intertwining of lives and situations. Lovely book with which to curl up on the sofa.
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on 20 January 2018
I used to read Maeve Binchy books all the time, then went into other writers, but was looking through just before Christmas and decided to buy one of her new books, wasn't disappointed, forgot what a good read her books are, love getting to know each character to build the story, will definitely be buying another one, am hooked all over again
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on 25 December 2012
I was worried that this book may have been a hastily published (and possibly in bad taste), since Maeve Binchy has just just died, to cash in on her last book. BUT I was relieved to find that the book was as sensitively written and as well written as any of her earlier books. I couldn't put my Kindle down and read the book through the night. I have lived my childhood through Maeve's books, not that I am Irish but an English child brought up by an R.C. father and recently converted Mother; sent to a convert and then to an awful R.C. state primary school in Gadebrifge, Hemel Hempstead, hertforshire, UK where the headmistress was an evil witch who beat the five year olds if they swayed during the lengthy assemblies etc. My mother didn't believe the tales we came home with as she had never been taught by nuns so our complaints and tears were ignored for years..................... as a young adult Maeve Binchy gave my young life truth and eventually, 50 years later my mother accepted that we had suffered and, indeed, seen others suffer far more at the hands of the saintly nuns!!
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on 19 February 2014
I recently read "Heartbreak Hotel and was disgusted by the content and the language. Old people interested only in sex and using dreadful language. I am not even going to give this book to the charity shop. It will simply go in the bin. I was very surprised about this as I only bought the book because it was by the Author of " The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". I saw the film but didn't read the book - I expect the "read" was awful too but the film was beautiful.

"A Week in Winter" followed the same theme of somebody inexperienced setting up a hotel and then following the stories of the people who stayed there. It was absolutely lovely. VERY believable characters, touching and funny stories and NO bad language.

We are told by the media that people today want sex, sleaze, violence etc. THEY ARE WRONG. The only reason people read this sort of thing or watch it is that we have very little choice - it is all we are fed. Check on the records of most viewed TV programmes of a while ago - when we still had a choice - and you'll find that the top viewed programmes were the ones that were "family watchable" not the spiritistic, horror, science fiction, violent rubbish they inflict on us these days.

It's about time somebody did a survey and asked people's HONEST opinions about what they want. I think they would get a shock.
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