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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Week in Winter on the West Coast of Ireland! I'd Like to Go.

A Week in WinterA Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've never read anything by Binchy before though I always meant to do so. This past winter a friend passed this book on to me with the comment that it was just a nice, warm simple story and that is what it is.
Set on the west coast of Ireland it tells of a woman from Stoneybridge who'd grown up there, ran off with a young American, got left behind by him after a short time, made her way in New York City until returning to Stoneybridge in her middle age. Having covered up her life by presenting herself as a widow she purchases and restores a Victorian home perched on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. With help from various friends and family members she refurbishes the place, retaining its Victorian aura and opens a tourist home.
This is the story of the first batch of guests for her first winter week of rental. Each of the characters is given his or her own chapter and, as we get to know them, we also become acquainted with the village, its inhabitants and the beautiful Irish Atlantic coast. The arrangement allows for easy reading since each chapter is a story in itself and so the book is easily laid down for a time without a need for immediate continuity. Yet, by the same token, the arrangement keeps the reader interested enough to want to know each of the guests who gather round the dining table at night for dinner as a community. Chickie, the owner, oversees the changes that occur in the lives of each guest--everyone of whom needs and greatly benefits from this one week away from the reality of their everyday lives.
At the end, it seems as though they each may have made life changing decisions that may or may not improve reality but at least sends them back renewed, refreshed and more comfortably alive than before their arrival at Stone Cottage in Stoneybridge, Ireland. There is a sense that each has learned a bit more about themselves, about life and what they want from it. The stories might even encourage the reader to find their own Stone Cottage with its walking trails at which to seek a break from lives that may be too hectic to really evaluate or appreciate.
At the very least, a fictional visit to Stoneybridge on a rainy summer day, drives the clouds and damp away until the sun returns.

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