A Week in Winter was a perfect read for a January that has seen below zero temps pretty much every day, snow storms that have just enough snow to make you shovel, and lots of snow melting/turning into ice to make driving difficult and full of anxiety. Maeve Binchy took me away for a few days and she'll do the same for you.
This novel centers around Chicky Starr, who leaves her family to move to New York City with a young man who promises her the world. Instead, he leaves her after a few months, and she stays in America, spinning a tale of a wonderful marriage and life for her family back in Stoneybridge. They never know Chicky actually lives in a boardinghouse and works all the time, with no man in her life.
Chicky returns to Ireland every year to visit her family, and on her last visit decides to make a change and buy Stone House, a lovely but crumbling home on the coast of Ireland owned by Miss Queenie, the last of three sisters who lived their whole lives there. Miss Queenie knows Chicky will save the home from developers and turn it into a place for people to escape for a vacation by the sea.
Chicky is a bit magical herself; she knows just what to say and do to get people involved in renovating Stone House, coming to work for her, and knowing just what to do to make it a welcoming place for troubled souls.
Chicky's first week in business has a full roster of people from around the world who find themselves at Stone House carrying secrets and scars from their lives. Can a week in winter help rejuvenate and revive their lives?
I am so glad I read this Maeve Binchy novel first. It will be hard to beat. What a sweet, gentle, engaging novel about the power of nature, rest, and kind people. It shows that sometimes we all need to remove ourselves from the crazy in our lives and be quiet and still. Amazing things can come out of it.
And it makes me want to go back to Ireland. It truly is a magical place.
Rating: 8/10 for a great strong character in Chicky; a magical place in Stone House, and a story that moves along and explains each visitor's backstory.
Available in paperback and e-book.