This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
It is set on the West coast of Ireland in a place called Stoneybridge. The backdrop is Stone House, a hotel set on the cliffs. The central character Chicky Starr has built her life on a fantasy. She returns home from New York telling people she is now a widow and that her husband Walter was killed in a car crash. At a loss of what to do she sets out to buy and change Stone House into a country hotel. Miss Queenie, the previous owner, along with a young wayward lad, Rigger and her niece Orla help her with the transformation from home to hotel. These characters are transformed by this process and loyalty and love develops.
The novel is set around the first opening week of the hotel. Terrified that she will get no customers, Chicky advertises it in various brochures and calls it One Week in Winter. A week where people could enjoy nature, good food and peace and quiet.
Each chapter introduces you to different complex characters from many walks of life. They all need to escape for some reason. They range from an ageing American Film star Corry Salinas. Two Doctors, Nicola and Henry who have seen too much death. Two friends, Freda and Lilian, and Anders, a Swedish company director. The story covers all the emotions, anger, sadness, joy and loss.
The book is made up of individual chapters about each set of visitors to the hotel during the first Winter Week. Stone House Hotel seems to be able to weave its magic on nearly all its guests. This is mainly due to the warmth of the central character Chicky Starr.
For me this is not one of Maeve Binchy’s best novels and this is understandable as it was her last. But still the lovely Irish atmosphere which she is so good at conjuring up is there. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is ideal for a light holiday read.
To purchase this book from Amazon click HERE.
If you liked this review you might like to read some more of The Page Turner’s book reviews – click HERE.