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A Week in Winter

by

A Week in Winter Cover

ISBN13: 9780307273574
ISBN10: 0307273571
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. Why is Chicky attracted to Walter? Why does she defy her mother’s doubts and admonitions about going to New York [p. 6]? “Reality was, for Chicky, this whole fantasy world that she had invented of a bustling, successful Manhattan lifestyle” [p. 9]. Do Chicky’s deceptions blind her to Walter’s true character? Does she love him?  What other feelings might explain her pleas to him to stay [p. 11]?  

2. After Walter leaves, Chicky vows she will never go back to Stoneybridge. Is she motivated by pride and stubbornness or does her decision reflect realistic concerns about the reactions her return is likely to generate? How do her periodic visits home influence her feelings about her family and Stoneybridge [p. 15]? 

3. Step-by-step, Chicky takes charge of her life in New York. What character traits help her succeed? Discuss Mrs. Cassidy’s observations when Chicky leaves for Stoneybridge after twenty years in New York [p. 22-23].  In what ways does Chicky’s temperament, as well as her skills, prepare her for life as an innkeeper? 

4. In Winnie and Lillian’s antagonistic relationship, which woman initially has the upper hand and why?  How does Teddy’s behavior affect their opinions and interactions? What do they learn about each other when they are trapped in the cave? What do they learn about themselves? 

5. Why is John eager to hide his true identity during his stay at Stone House?  What advantages does he enjoy as an actor and what toll has his career taken on his personal life? Do you think he represents a majority of celebrities? Are Orla’s insights about the nature of fame persuasive [pp. 155-60]?  

6. Henry and Nicola are shaken by the deaths they have seen as doctors. Why have their attempts to create satisfying careers been futile? What does the prospect of practicing in Stoneybridge offer them both personally and professionally?

7. What does Anders’s story convey about the difficulties of making a choice when one is faced with a conflict between duty and desire? How do his mother’s and Erika’s actions and advice, as well as his relationship with his father, influence him?  What aspects of his experiences in Ireland help him to clarify his goals? What does his conversation with Chicky reveal about the way we ultimately make decisions [pp. 226-27]? 

8. The description of the Walls and their obsession with contests is at once humorous and touching. What does their story demonstrate about the foundations of a loving long-term marriage?  How do their enthusiasms change and enrich the experiences of the group at the inn?  

9. Nell Howe is the only guest unmoved by the charms of Stone House. What accounts for her resistance to the atmosphere at the inn and her critical opinions of her fellow guests? What do her conversations with Rigger [pp. 271-72] and Carmel [pp. 296-98] reveal about her and the reasons she is unable or unwilling to bond with other people? Does her stay at Stone House change her in any way? 

10. Why does Freda try to ignore or repress the visions she has?  How do they interfere with her everyday life and her hopes and plans for the future?  Even without her special “feelings,” is she foolish to embark on a love affair with Mark?  Why does she decide to tell a “group of strangers” [p. 323] about her psychic powers?  Reread the predictions she makes  [p. 324]. Which of them do you think will come true? 

11. Talk about how Binchy introduces each of the guests at Stone House.  How does she pique your interest in them? Which character makes the strongest first impression? Which one takes the longest to get to know?

12. Anders tells himself,  “Problems don’t solve themselves neatly like that, due to a set of coincidences. Problems are solved by making decisions” [p. 224].  Discuss how the various stories in A Week in Winter confirm or belie this observation. 

13. Minor characters are an important part of A Week in Winter. What do Miss Queenie, Orla, and Rigger and Carmel contribute to the novel? What insights do their behavior, attitudes, and ambitions provide into the connections as well as the conflicts between traditional and contemporary Irish culture and society? Why does Nuela refuse to see her son, Rigger? What makes her change her mind?

14. Binchy is well known for making the landscape of rural Ireland as vital as the characters in her novels. What descriptions of the countryside and the coast in the wintertime are particularly vivid or evocative? How do they help set the mood of the narrative? 

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Lynn Lesperance, April 17, 2013 (view all comments by Lynn Lesperance)
The late Maeve Binchy unfailingly welcomed the reader into a comforting world where everyone knows everyone else and redemption is always close at hand. This last work is more a collection of short stories tied together through a big stone mansion cum hotel in rural Western Ireland, yet it works as a novel with all the gentle insights, acceptance of individual foibles, and just plain heart her readers have come to expect. So grab a cup of tea and a comfortable chair and go there, to Maeve's world, one last time
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sharon.travis, January 6, 2013 (view all comments by sharon.travis)
As usual Maeve Binchy makes her characters come to life and ultimately interweaves each individual story into one hearttouching conclusion. I cried and laughed as I read the final book she would ever write and felt bereft that there would never be another book from one of my favourite authors.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307273574
Author:
Binchy, Maeve
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
ireland;fiction;relationships;friendship;hotel;bed and breakfast;romance;friends;novel;family;contemporary
Publication Date:
20130331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
4-C END PAPER MAP
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.44 x 1.3 in 1.34 lb

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A Week in Winter Used Hardcover
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$10.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307273574 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This less-than-thrilling final work (after Minding Frankie) in the late Irish novelist's prolific oeuvre tells the life stories of a cast of characters that show up for a week's stay at a bed and breakfast called Stone House. The house is located in the idyllic village of Stoneybridge on western Ireland's 'wet and wild and lonely' Atlantic coast. Binchy begins with the hotel's founder and proprietor, Chicky Starr, whose life hasn't turned out the way she'd hoped. Several disparate narratives overlap and intermingle in various ways, as the reader views the characters — — who each receive their own chapter — — from the others' perspectives. Binchy encapsulates the lives of her characters with such authority and so completely that there is little room for mystery or urgency. The reader gets the sense that all of the intrigue has been removed from the characters' unique yet matter-of-fact lives. The novel, however, is welcome territory for those looking for a feel-good read, and as Binchy writes, no matter how awry their lives seem to go, 'It was all going to be fine.' (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Maeve Binchy, "the grand story teller,"* returns with a cast of characters you will never forget when they all spend a winter week together on holiday at Stone House, a restful inn by the sea...

Stoneyville is a small town on the coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky decides to take an old decaying mansion, Stone House, and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, the town thinks she is crazy. She is helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the place) and her niece Orla (a whiz at business). Finally the first week of paying guests arrive: John, the American movie star thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian, forced into taking a holiday together; Nuala and Henry, husband and wife , both doctors who have been shaken by seeing too much death; Anders, the Swedish boy, hates his father's business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired school teacher, who  criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone's relief; the Walls who have entered in 200 contests (and won everything from a microwave oven to velvet curtains, including the week at Stone House); and  Freda , the psychic who is afraid of her own visions. You will laugh and cry as you spend the week with this odd group who share their secrets and might even have some of their dreams come true. 

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