by Maeve Binchy
I needed a cozy winter read and this hit the spot. The story takes place in Stonybridge, a quiet coastal town in Ireland. We dive right in with the story of Chicky, a young woman who is swept off her feet and follows her love to America. Years later she returns to Stonybridge to turn an old home into a hotel. The house belongs to Miss Queenie, an elderly woman whose two spinster sisters have passed away. Chicky’s story starts the book, but each chapter introduces the reader to a new person’s life.
There’s Rigger, a troubled youth who ends up in Stonybridge to escape his mistakes. He leaves behind his mom, Nuala and his uncle Nasey, and a lot of hard feelings. We meet Winnie and watch as she falls in love but struggles to get along with her boyfriend’s difficult mother. There’s a fussy school principal, an American movie star who needs a rest, two English doctors, a young woman with a talent for seeing the future, and a kitten named Gloria.
Binchy weaves the stories together in such a beautiful way. She layers one character on top of another, each one adding depth to the novel as a whole. Not every person gets a happy ending, but each story is one that I loved living in for a chapter.
Pairing Books with Movies: Binchy's novels are wonderful portraits of life in Ireland. This one brought to mind the movie Waking Ned Devine. Both take a look at small town life and both have a cranky character who puts a damper on the lives of those around her. Both also have the death of an elderly person at the beginning that changes things for everyone around them (Ned Devine and then Miss Queenie's sisters).