Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

This book is decidedly cozy. I am not saying that as a bad thing, not remotely. What saves it is that it is not saccharine. Cozy, but not sickly sweet. Neither is it a challenging read, nor are there ideas that will occupy your brain for days, just a belief that taking time for yourself, in pleasant surroundings, surrounded by people who genuinely like people and take care of each other, in a gorgeous setting, is good for the soul.

It is not hard to convince me of this.

So while there's nothing earthshattering here, it was pleasant to take a break in Maeve Binchy's world for a few hours. Chicky, the lead character, left the small town of Stoneybridge in Ireland when a young woman, for the wilds of New York. Twenty-odd years later, she returns to buy the local great house and turn it into a hotel. Along the way, she takes her niece under her wing, as well as the ne'er-do-well son of one of her school friends, who finds family and redemption working on something he cares about.

This is a theme.

And then they open for customers, and a young woman shows up with her very hostile potential mother-in-law, a pair of doctors with ghosts behind their eyes, an aging movie star, an unhappy Swedish accountant, an older couple who specialize in winning contests, a cranky retired school principal, and a young woman who sees more than she ought to. With one exception, they each find some measure of peace in Stoneybridge.

Look, you'll know from this description if you'll like the book. Stoneybridge is not where I'd want to spend the majority of my literary time - I'd grow awfully bored. But as a respite, a week in winter to holiday in lovely surroundings, it is well written, and the stories are comforting but not cloying.

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