I was surprised to see this new book in the library since the author had passed away. I shall really miss her writing as this is probably her final book.
A Week in Winter follows the same format as Maeve Binchy’s other books, where she links stories of different protagonists into a book with a common theme. Here, the stories of different people come together for a holiday in Stone House in Ireland.
The book starts with how Chicky, the proprietor of Stone House, came to inherit the house to make it into a bed and breakfast (B&B) for a group of tourists from different parts of the world. Her staff comprising of Rigger and his wife Carmen, her niece Orla have their own story to tell of how they landed at Stone House.
Not everyone comes to Stone House willingly, or leaves happily, but most do, thank goodness. Maeve Binchy has a keen eye observing human behaviours which as I read this book over the Chinese New Year, I see traits of personalities described by her as I go around visiting my relatives during the festive occasion.
The story of The Walls, about a couple who join contests and win often, strikes a chord because my husband and I join contests and win too. Here, the Walls won the second prize to Stone House, although they had their eye on the first prize trip to Paris. Thus, they find they could not enjoy their trip as they imagine and envy the other couple who went to Paris, until they made an anonymous call to the couple in Paris and found their trip to be not as promised as written in the contest. Envy and jealousy has marred their own winning. They were in the end, grateful for their holiday.
The story of Nell Howe, whose trip to Stone House was a retirement gift from parents and staff of the school where she was a principal. She was not well-liked for she never has anything good to say to others. Her negativity is so imbued in her that she leaves Stone House prematurely, miserable because she cannot get along with the others. Thankfully, the others around her did not allow her to pull them down with her. I like how in the face of rudeness, the Irish are still well-mannered enough to respond politely without getting emotional like us Asians.
In a way, the book reminds me of my trip to Nepal, where my groups of seven almost total strangers came together and bonded for five days, sharing our stories and journey like how this group of people did in the book.
I would love to visit Stone House and stay there for a week. Ireland, wait for me.