I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

In this, Binchy's last novel before her death, it focuses on Chicky Starr, who left Stoneybridge, Ireland twenty-years-ago with a dashing American who leaves her eight months later.  Her family disowns her and rather than admit that they were right, she tells them they got married.  She soon starts to work at an Irish boarding house and after five years of being away, she goes back to visit, telling them that her husband is "too busy" to come with her.  After a while, she "kills" him off in an accident.  After twenty years of being in America, she decides to help the last Miss Sheedy old maid in her rambling house by buying the house and having Miss Sheedy help her redecorate it and turn it into a special B and B.  Her old childhood best friend's reform school son, is sent there to hopefully turn his life around, and soon, Rigger, finds himself manager of the place and a different man, even though he can't reach his mother, who goes into a depression, blaming herself for what happened to him.
This fabulous novel focuses on the lives of those who come to stay at Stone House for the first week.  There's an Irish nurse, who gets stuck going on this vacation with the dragon lady mother of her boyfriend, whom she hopes to marry.  He, however, is a bit of a mama's boy, and his mother has managed, all these years to keep him from getting married.  Will this trip bring them together or drive them further apart?

Another guest is the famous American actor, Cory Salinas, who is trying to find out what to do with his life.  Henry and Nicola, British doctors have seen death close up twice and have come away jarred.  They have also been trying for a number of years to get pregnant and have pretty much given up.  They hope this seaside house will give them the rest they need to go on with their lives.

Anders, an accountant, is supposed to join his father's prestigious firm in Sweden, but he has fallen in love with Erika, who lives in Stockholm and refuses to leave her promising career there to move back to his hometown, to a job that he hates.  He'd rather play music but feels obligated to his father.  This trip is an escape from the dreary life of his job.  The Walls won the trip from a contest.  They are contesting junkies and had hoped for first place, an expensive trip to Paris, for their twenty-fifth anniversary.  Needless to say, they are disappointed at where they find themselves instead.

Miss Nell Howe is a severe, now retired, headmistress of a school, who has no friends and treats everyone horribly.  The parents and staff feel they ought to get her something for her service, so they get her this vacation, which she hates.  But there's more to her than meets the eye.  Freda the librarian, has given up on love until a charming man comes into her life, a man "to good to be true", who just might break her heart.  She goes to Stone House to find her way back again.

I didn't want this book to end, which says a lot.  This is my first Binchy book and now I can't wait to read more of her books.  I wanted to hear more of Chicky's life and the other workers of Stone House after the guests of the first week left.  I can't say enough good things about this fabulous book that looks intimately into the lives of the fascinating guests that you mostly come to love (some you just can't no matter what).  I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

She was vaguely hopeful that there was love out there somewhere—just a little less sure that she might actually find it.
--Maeve Binchy (A Week in Winter p 101)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Week-Winter-Maeve-Binchy/dp/1101973765/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481305714&sr=1-1&keywords=a+week+in+winter

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