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on December 2, 2012
I always fall into a book by Maeve Binchy like falling into a warm bed on
a snowy evening, enveloped in a gloriously cozy down duvet, the lamp on, a
warm drink to hand, ready to be swept away to a place of caring and compassion.

Her theme is always the same - people, confronted by difficulties in life, bad
luck or hard times, and how the choices they make lead to a better life, or one
that is (by their own actions) shut down and made smaller.

Ireland is not only the setting, it is also one of these characters - beautiful and
troubled, or glorious and hopeful; more likely all of these.

Maeve has died, and now that I have read this book, there is that sad realization
that there aren't going to be any new characters to meet - but I will be re-reading
all her books, including this one, which I think is one of the best.

If you are a fan of Maeve Binchy's works, you already know these characters, and
the plots. You know the place - only a small part of the book is set in Dublin; most
of it is in the West, in a village on the coast.

As usual, there are a mis-matched group of near-strangers, brought together for an arbitrary
occassion - this time it is the opening of a small inn - each with a life problem
that must be confronted (or, notably for one character, avoided) and how that
plays out.

The pleasure is in spending time with these people as they face up to their problems,
or fail to, and the understanding (and compassion) for people that Maeve always

Reading Binchy, I always feel more alive, more aware of other people, more as if I have had a glimpse
into their hearts and minds - and that is a great gift, what only the most profoundly
gifted authors, artists and composers ever achieve.

Binchy's works were, in her lifetime, so often dismissed as romances or women's lit -
I prefer to think of her as a reporter and journalist (as she was, and so was Dickens)
reporting on the heart and mind and soul of people in troubling times.

If you have read other books by Maeve Binchy, you don't need reviews to tell you why you
will love A Week in Winter. If you haven't, but read to understand people (and yourself)
and how relationships really work (or fail to), you will love this book!
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I first read the late Ms. Binchy's works when I was a teenager several decades ago. Circle of Friends was the first Binchy book I read and its story of friendships, loyalty, heartbreak, and love was so well-told that I devoured as many of Ms. Binchy's works as I could. Since then, I have read each and every one of Ms. Binchy's works and have all of the titles in my home library. Her works are what I would describe as cozy reads yet they deal with family and relationship problems in a very down-to-earth manner, making the characters seem altogether real and each of the stories never failed to resonate with me, though admittedly some are better than others.

In Ms. Binchy's last novel (she died sometime last year), the setting is a coastal Irish village called Stoneybridge. Chicky is an Irish woman who followed her heart years ago and left for the States with a young American man named Walter who turned out to be too restless to be tied down and eventually leaves for greener pastures. Luckily Chicky's independent spirit refuses to be cowed by this and she finds a steady job and trains as a pastry chef while building on other skills. Back in Ireland, Chicky's family thinks she is doing well, unaware of what really happened and so when Chicky eventually returns to Stoneybridge, her family welcomes her as a prosperous 'widow'.

Chicky decides to buy the old manor house owned by Ms. Queenie Sheedy and converts it into a hotel which caters to people looking for some respite from their busy lives, people who just want to get away from it all. Like many of Ms. Binchy's books, the chapters in the book focus on one character at a time, both the guests as well as the people running the hotel, and explore each character's story. Fans of Ms. Binchy's works will recognize some familiar characters from her older works which make cameo appearances here.

Unfortunately, there are so many characters here that the chapters are relatively short making it difficult for in-depth character development. Just as I got engaged in the story of a particular character, it would come to an end and I did not quite enjoy this book as much as some of Ms. Binchy's other works. As for the stories themselves, there is a certain incredulity due to the pat and quick way in which problems are resolved making it seem implausible especially considering real-life is hardly ever that way.

Don't get me wrong, I love Ms. Binchy's style of writing but I just felt this last work was not her best. I plan on revisiting some of her older works which happen to be some of my all-time favorites, i.e. The Glass Lake, Circle of Friends, Evening Class, Firefly Summer, Tara Road, Silver Wedding, etc.
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on November 20, 2012
In my opinion this is her best book. Great read about the different personalities of people who end up as guests for the opening week of a new B & B & the staff employed to run it. A mixture of very different people who end up there for various reasons & circumstances & what happens when they are all dining together every day. A heart warming tale.
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on November 11, 2012
I was so sad to read of Maeve's passing, but so happy to have another beautiful book. I call her books beautiful as you become so involved in the story that you see Ireland, the people in the story and feel a part of the story. this book is another hit and Ireland become's another destination on my bucket list. Blessings to Ms. Binchy's family she will be forever missed.
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on December 15, 2012
When Maeve Binchy passed away on July 30, 2012, the reading world lost one of its brightest lights. As a fan who has read every one of her novels and short story collections, I was deeply saddened but happy to know she had left her readers one final gift. The novel she had just finished would be published as a final tribute to this amazing chronicler of Irish family life.

With her unparalleled way of writing heartwarming stories that explore the deepest emotions, Maeve Binchy enchants one final time with this story set at a bed and breakfast on the Irish coast. The innkeeper is Chicky, a woman who grew up in the small village of Stoneybridge but left years ago, against dire warnings from her family, in order to follow her American lover. When she finds herself jilted and alone in America, she weaves a fantasy to tell her family and keeps the fantasy going for years. Finally, she returns and purchases a once grand but now dilapidated estate called Stone House and dreams of turning it into a holiday home for travelers. The work is hard but made easier when a midnight call from Nuala, an old friend from school days who fled to Dublin to hide a pregnancy, puts Chicky in touch with Nuala's son Rigger, now a full-fledged juvenile delinquent wanted by the Dublin police.

Other characters who find their way to Stone House are: Orla, Chicky's niece who had had been seeking a career in London but returns; Winnie, a 34-year-old nurse who has found love at last but must convince an overbearing mother to let go of her son; Corry, the American movie star who must learn to embrace and share his fame; Henry and Nicola, married doctors who have lost their way in life and yearn for a child; Anders, a Swiss accountant who gives up his passion for music to please his father but loses his girlfriend in the bargain; Mr.and Mrs. Walls, a married couple who win a week at the inn in a competition and must learn to trade the romance and glamour of Paris for something deeper; Nell Howe, an embittered school principal who is the thorn in everyone's happiness; and Freda, the librarian who has always been ashamed of her psychic abilities.

Each character has his or her own chapter in which the reader learns the backstory that leads them to Stone House. Long-time fans of Mrs. Binchy will be pleased to know there are brief appearances or mentions from many characters from past novels, as well as two great new creations, Queenie and Gloria. When they all come together for one special week, a charming story of hope, courage,and new resolve blooms and gives the reader a heartwarming ending not only to a great story but to the writing career of a great author.
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on November 24, 2012
This is a typical work of pleasure by Maeve Binchy, my only regret is that we wont be able to continue with the characters into the future.
This book is for anyone young or old who likes to get into the lives and thoughts of the people in the book.

May God rest you Maeve Binchy and thank you for all the wonderful moments we have had through your writings.
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on May 14, 2013
This was a book club choice and we were all unanimous in our total dislike of the story. The rumor was that Maeve hadn't finished it before she died and it was put together by others after her death. My own view is that it should have stayed in the filing cabinet. Where to start, firstly we couldn't make out when it was set and then we realized it was actually modern day Ireland. Now, we come from Ireland and there is no way that it portrays Irish life in this century. For one thing there was a mention of someone going to 'commercial college' a term not used since the 1980s. And the ludicrous story line, our heroine 'Chicky' (Don't get me started on the stupid names most of the characters had) goes out with a guy for 6 weeks and then pretends to everyone for the next 25 years that she married him ! She lives in New York where no one from her family came to visit and so her pretend marriage was safe...sorry but half of Ireland emigrated to New York in the 80s and the other half went on shopping trips there in the Celtic Tiger years. Another Character Nuala went to Dublin to have her illegitimate son, again no-one from her family in the west of Ireland heard a word from her again and no one thought to get in the car and drive up to see what was going on.(its less than a 3 hour drive)! 'Rigger' (I told you the names were stupid) gets Carmel pregnant, they are both 17 and she is finishing her final school exams, they have been going out a wet week but 'Chicky' decides that they will get married straight away!! This is in the 21st century and NO, that does not happen even in Ireland these days ! The story is based around Chicky opening a hotel and each chapter brings more guests and their stories of us to 'enjoy'. Some are semi believable, most are not. The head teacher who was the school witch, she cared for no one and no one cared for her, yet she invited herself into Carmel's house for a cup of tea (Highly unlikely as she was portrayed as a social recluse) and then berated her and finally broke down in tears and confessed all her bottled up problems to a 17 year old school drop out (Highly unlikely). And it went on...I heard that this was a best seller in the US and for the life of me I can't think why...perhaps it gives an image of the 'aul sod' that Americans crave but believe you me it is not in any shape or form an accurate portrayal of Irish life. Sorry to be so blunt and I do respect some of Maeve's other books, especially the ones set in the 50s. I think she had her a great insight into being young in that era but not in this one I'm afraid.
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on March 4, 2013
Reading any of Maeve Binchy's books is such a delight. I hate knowing this was the last one. Her books restore your faith in human nature. Her characters are so beautifully identified that you feel like you might know them if you pass them on the street. Her writing will be greatly missed.
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on February 5, 2013
A mix of Irish country-side, variety of lifestyles and a common ground.. the need to escape to somewhere special. A nice and easy read that was hard to put down.
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on March 21, 2013
I felt this book was not finished. We were introduced to a big cast and heard their stories but the resoulutions were hasty and not deeply thought out. Had she lived I think Maeve Binchy would have done some significant revising and tied up some loose ends.
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