A week in winter by

Everyone had their own job to do on the Ryans' farm in Stoneybridge.
–Maeve Binchy - A week in winter - c.2012

Chicky left her home on the west coast of Ireland and headed off to America after a whirl-wind romance. Full of ideas of everlasting love and romance she abandoned all for the dashing American. Unfortunately, things did not work out and Chicky was forced to re-evaluate her life. Eventually she returned to her hometown, bought a run-down old house and set about converting it into a hotel.

Oh this book is so not my sort of thing, but we’ve started a book club at work and this was picked as the first read. So I read it. And I finished it.

But I really disliked it.

I know that many people love and adore Binchy’s work but it does nothing at all for me. Its strange, people often give out about science fiction and fantasy books as being unreal and an escape from the world. A week in winter is the most unreal book I have ever read. It tells the various tales of Chicky and her family and then the various guests that come to stay in the hotel. All their trials and tribulations!

But everything is just so nicey-nice and unrealistic. Personal disasters may happen, but they are all made better by a cup of tea and a nice chat. Everything from depression to criminal teens can be solved by a good chat! Urghhhhhh. Have I mentioned that I hate this sort of fiction?

As you can guess I do not recommend this book, but if this is the sort of fiction you enjoy then you should check out Maeve Binchy, if you haven’t before. This is her last novel and she hundreds of thousands of people loved her writing. It just isn’t for me.

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4 Responses

  1. Harlequin says:

    I haven't read this one but her later books don't do much for me. I love several of her earlier ones and there's plenty of pain and suffering and torment that no amount of cups of tea will sort out. And she gets wonderfully inside people's heads, all their little oddnesses and discontent and pettiness. She wrote about some really shocking and unusual stuff for her time as well. But her later books tend toward the nicey-niceness a lot and are mostly loosely connected short stories which I just don't enjoy the way I enjoyed her novels. My favourites of hers are The Glass Lake, Echoes and Circle of Friends, which remains one of the few "romance novels" I've read where the HEA is the heroine choosing to be by herself and not with any fella at the end.

    It seems like an unusual choice for a book club – I'm not down on popular literature, as you know, but at least if they chose something by Jodi Picoult or Anita Shreve, you'd have something to get your teeth into, theme-wise! Good luck with the book club. I really hope their taste improves as it goes on!! My only experience with one involved half the people not having read the book and then talking about pregnancy and babies for the rest of the time. Grim.

  2. Harlequin says:

    Oh yeah – it's not actually clear from your post whether this is your first Binchy? If it is, let me just say that honestly, it does not sound representative of the work that made her justifiably beloved. Maybe even her best work wouldn't be to your taste but I doubt you'd have this reaction to it!

  3. fence says:

    I read at least one of hers back in school Light a penny candle. My memories of it had much less nicey nice problems solved by a cup of tea so I think her wilting devolved as time went by.

  4. Harlequin says:

    Yeah, the divorce, impotence and abortion problems didn't get solved by a cup of tea! :-D