Monday, March 25, 2013

Everybody Really Does Have a Story

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

On the rugged west coast of Ireland, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a large, old stone house is given new life when Irish ex-patriot Chicky Starr and the aging Miss Queenie collaborate to turn the old house into a restful holiday retreat.  As is Binchy's trademark, the book brings together a delightful cast of characters -- each one with a story.

With each character, the reader gets a glimpse into an ordinary life with all its ups and downs, frustrations and victories, sorrows and joys.  All too often, the thing we think will bring joy brings defeat and more than we realize, our defeats can often bring our greatest joys.  Binchy's great gift was that she knew this truth and she knew how to share it.

In her later books, Binchy used re-used many characters and locations.  Each book stood alone but minor characters from one book reappeared as main characters in a later book.  With great skill, she wove characters and plot lines  in and out from one book to the next.  For a reader, it was great fun.  (My favorite was Evening Class and I think that was my introduction to this writer.)

In the grand scheme of things, A Week in Winter is probably not as strong as her other works.  Binchy died in July, 2012, and this book was published posthumously.  She can be forgiven if it lacks some of the cohesion and careful plotting that made her previous work sparkle.

It is, nevertheless, a very good book and I enjoyed reading it.  If you are a Maeve Binchy fan, you will enjoy it.  If you are not a fan, you can become one.   The great thing about writers is that they leave their legacy for us to enjoy when they are gone.  Just begin with one of her other books.

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