- File Size: 3997 KB
- Print Length: 418 pages
- Publisher: Anchor (February 12, 2013)
- Publication Date: February 12, 2013
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009MYARTO
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Random House LLC
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A Week in Winter Kindle Edition
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“Delightful. . . . Radiates the warmth and charm that fans will recognize and relish.” —USA Today
“A hopeful, loving novel chronicling lives shaped by good deeds, small favors, and honest counsel along the rocky crags of the Irish coast.” —The Daily Beast
“A gratifying, blustery read full of rich characters, a sea-spray setting and a compelling plot that carries the reader from start to end.” —Wichita Eagle
“Reading this novel is like ducking out of a cold rain into a fire-warmed pub filled with laughter.” —People
“If you read this book you will feel like you know every rock and view in Stoneybridge, and will likely wish you could visit this bleak-but-mesmerizing place, perhaps even in winter. . . . If you love Binchy's quiet stories, you will not be disappointed with this one.” —Huffington Post
“A restorative read.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Spell-binding. . . . Shows [Binchy] at the height of her powers.” —IrishCentral
“Maeve Binchy has once again created fully realized characters in quick, short strokes. . . . [The book contains] a philosophy of common sense and wisdom, both of which we’ve come to expect from Binchy.” —The Toronto Star
“All the characters spring to vivid life on the page, and all the stories are engaging.” —The Irish Times
“Heartwarming and spirit restoring. . . . 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.” —Booklist
“Welcome territory for those looking for a feel-good read.” —Publishers Weekly
“Classic Binchy. . . . Peek[s] into the lives of characters from various walks of life brought together at a newly opened inn on the West Coast of Ireland.” —Kirkus Reviews
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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 with him, of course.
Chicky laughed out loud at the idea that she should pack in her job at the knitting factory and tell her mother and father that she was going around Ireland hitchhiking with an American that she had just met! It would have been more acceptable to suggest flying to the moon.
Walter found her horror at the idea touching and almost endearing.
“We only have one life, Chicky. They can’t live it for us. We have to live it ourselves. Do you think my parents want me out here in the wilds of nowhere, having a good time? No, they want me in the country club playing tennis with the daughters of nice families, but, hey, this is where I want to be. It’s as simple as that.”
Walter Starr lived in a world where everything was simple. They loved each other, so what was more natural than to make love? They each knew the other was right, so why complicate their lives by fretting over what other people would say or think or do? A kindly God understood love. Father Johnson, who had taken a vow never to fall in love, didn’t. They didn’t need any stupid contracts or certificates, did they?
And after six glorious weeks, when Walter had to think of going back to the States, Chicky was ready to go with him. It involved an immense amount of rows and dramas and enormous upset in the Ryan household. But Walter was unaware of any of this.
Chicky’s father was more worried than ever now because everyone would say that he had brought up a tramp who was no better than she should be.
Chicky’s mother looked more tired and disappointed than ever, and said only God and his sainted mother knew what she had done wrong in bringing Chicky up to be such a scourge to them all.
Kathleen said that it was just as well she had an engagement ring on her finger because no man would have her if he knew the kind of family she came from.
Mary, who worked in the insurance office and was walking out with one of the O’Haras, said that the days of her romance were now numbered, thanks to Chicky. The O’Haras were a very respectable family in the town, and they wouldn’t think kindly about this behavior at all.
Her brother Brian kept his head down and said nothing at all. When Chicky asked him what he thought, Brian said he didn’t think. He didn’t have time to think.
Chicky’s friends—Peggy, who also worked in the knitting factory, and Nuala, who was a maid for the three Miss Sheedys—said it was the most exciting, reckless thing they had ever heard of, and wasn’t it great that she had a passport already from that school trip to Lourdes.
Walter Starr said they would stay in New York with friends of his. He was going to drop out of law school—it wasn’t really right for him. If we had several lives, well then, yes, maybe, but since we only have one life it wasn’t worth spending it studying law.
The night before she left, Chicky tried to make her parents understand her feelings She was twenty, she had her whole life to live, she wanted to love her family and for them to love her in spite of their disappointment.
Her father’s face was tight and hard. She would never be welcome in this house again, she had brought shame on them all.
Her mother was bitter. She said that Chicky was being very, very foolish. It wouldn’t last, it couldn’t last. It was not love, it was infatuation. If this Walter really loved her, then he would wait for her and provide her with a home and his name and a future instead of all this nonsense.
You could cut the atmosphere in the Ryan household with a knife.
Chicky’s sisters were no support. But she was adamant. They hadn’t known real love. She was not going to change her plans. She had her passport. She was going to go to America.
“Wish me well,” she had begged them the night before she left, but they had turned their faces away.
“Don’t let me go away with the memory of you being so cold.” Chicky had tears running down her face.
Her mother sighed a great sigh. “It would be cold if we just said, ‘Go ahead, enjoy yourself.’ We are trying to do our best for you. To help you make the best of your life. This is not love, it’s only some sort of infatuation. There’s no use pretending. You can’t have our blessing. It’s just not there for you.”
So Chicky left without it.
At Shannon Airport there were crowds waving good-bye to their children setting out for a new life in the United States. There was nobody to wave Chicky good-bye, but she and Walter didn’t care. They had their whole life ahead of them.
No rules, no doing the right thing to please the neighbors and relations.
They would be free—free to work where they wanted and at what they wanted.
No trying to fulfill other people’s hopes—to marry a rich farmer, in Chicky’s case, or to become a top lawyer, which was what Walter’s family had in mind for him.
Walter’s friends were welcoming in the big apartment in Brooklyn. Young people, friendly and easygoing. Some worked in bookshops, some in bars. Others were musicians. They came and went easily. Nobody made any fuss. It was so very different from home. A couple came in from the Coast, and a girl from Chicago who wrote poetry. There was a Mexican boy who played the guitar in Latino bars.
Everyone was so relaxed. Chicky found it amazing. Nobody made any demands. They would make a big chili for supper with everyone helping. There was no pressure.
They sighed a bit about their families not understanding anything, but it didn’t weigh heavily on anyone. Soon Chicky felt Stoneybridge fade away a little. However, she wrote a letter home every week. She had decided from the outset that she would not be the one to keep a feud going.
If one side behaved normally, then sooner or later the other side would have to respond and behave normally as well.
She did hear from some of her friends, and had the odd bit of news from them. Peggy and Nuala wrote and told her about life back home; it didn’t seem to have changed much in any way at all. So she was able to write to say she was delighted about the plans for Kathleen’s wedding to Mikey, and did not mention that she had heard about Mary’s romance with Sonny O’Hara having ended.
Her mother wrote brisk little cards, asking whether she had fixed a date for her wedding yet and wondering about whether there were Irish priests in the parish.
She told them nothing about the communal life she lived in the big crowded apartment, with all the coming and going and guitar playing. They would never have been able to begin to understand.
Instead, she wrote about going to art-exhibit openings and theater first nights. She read about these in the papers, and sometimes indeed she and Walter went to matinees or got cheap seats at previews through friends of friends who wanted to fill a house.
Walter had a job helping to catalog a library for some old friends of his parents. His family had hoped to woo him back this way to some form of academic life, he said, and it wasn’t a bad job. They left him alone and didn’t give him any hassle. That’s all anyone wanted in life.
Chicky learned that this was definitely all Walter wanted in life. So she didn’t nag him about when she would meet his parents, or when they would find a place of their own, or indeed what they would do down the line. They were together in New York. That was enough, wasn’t it?
And in many ways it was.
Chicky got herself a job in a diner. The hours suited her. She could get up very early, leave the apartment before anyone else was awake. She helped open up the diner, did her shift and served breakfasts. She was back at the apartment before the others had struggled into the day, bringing them cold milk and bagels left over from the diner’s breakfast stock. They got used to her bringing them their supplies. She still heard news from home but it became more and more remote. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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Eventually everything comes together to create the storyline. However, too many people are in this cast for my taste because it takes away from our really getting to know anyone well. For me, this book can't hold a candle to books by Anne Tyler - who writes so vividly that I really know and care about and become involved with each main character.
This book takes place on the western coast of Ireland. Young Chicky Ryan meets an American boy and is swept off her feet. Despite family protest, she moves with him to New York City. But Walter Starr is lazy and he dumps Chicky after a few months. Unfortunately, she lied to her family and said they were married. She lies again and tells them he was killed in a car accident. Widow Chicky Starr eventually returns to Ireland. With the blessing of an elderly spinster in town, Chicky converts the woman's house into a B & B. There are worrisome moments, but the place is a success.
The first chapter tells Chicky's story. The next two chapters focus on her niece and the son of a friend who help her open and run the inn. The subsequent chapters are devoted to each of the guests who come for the opening week. You learn their backstory, the life crisis that brings them to Ireland for a winter vacation, the insight they gain while there, and how their life is improved. Somehow each person gets what he or she needs during their stay at Stone House. Okay, one bitter guest remains unchanged.
This was a book club pick. Though not my favorite book, it is a nice choice for the hectic time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is easy to read, it goes fast, the language is basic, and it mostly held my interest. The basic language and effortless read are also on my negative list. Beyond some mild quirkiness, there is a lack of character development. There is also a lack of plot development with a thin thread that ties some of the characters together. At times I was not sure if this was a novel or a short story collection. The stories are predictable and all the outcomes are happy. There is not much to ponder here and I will not remember this book beyond the book club discussion. Again, if you like Maeve Binchy's other books, you will be well pleased with this.
Set in the fictional village of Stoneybridge located on the west coast of Ireland--where the winds and the waves of the Atlantic create a harsh environment--the various stories are focused around an old house that is renovated as an inn. It opens in the middle of winter (not the most weather-friendly time to visit Stoneybridge), and we learn the secrets, fears, longings and desires of the guests who visit for a week in winter.
Finishing the book is much like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. And this is classic Maeve Binchy! The stories, the characters, the setting, the descriptions...no one writes like she did.
Top international reviews
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.
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.
As other reviewers have said it’s impossible to work out what year this was set in. Early in the book it refers to a failed divorce referendum which indicates 1986 but the attitudes and mores of the characters are more like 1936. Are we seriously supposed to believe that in 1986 NY was a remote, uncontactable outpost to people in the west of Ireland? My poor and unremarkable family certainly had more representatives working in NY then than living back home and gossip flew both ways very effectively. We even got,on planes and visited one another occasionally. This depiction of a tourist area in the west in 1986 being some sort of Disneyfied outpost of Glocca Mora is verging on the racist. I can understand why it was published posthumously, I’m sure Maeve wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with it.
I read the first three chapters of this utter drivel and then asked Amazon to remove it from my Kindle account and refund me.
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.
The scenes are also caricatures of stereotypes and irrelevant detail in which everything including the time period is shallow, or randomly variable.
Don't waste your time on this book.
"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.