This story begins and ends in Stoneybridge, a small town on the West Coast of Ireland. The Ryan family is a large group of boys and girls. Geraldine, known as Chicky, watched as her siblings got jobs or moved away and finally took a job in a knitting factory office. One day a handsome American named Walter Starr came in looking for an Aran sweater. The attraction between them was mutual and Chicky followed him back to New York against her family and friends advice. While she was very happy for a period of time, Walter soon decided to move on. Leaving Chicky alone in New York to fend for herself. As desperation pushed her to find work, she applied for and got a job working in a boarding house where she and the owner made a successful business for several years.
Her family believed that she and Walter had married, but her visits home were without Walter and she could not tell her family that he had left her so she made up a story about his demise. Chicky periodically received gossip from home through mail and learned that two of the Miss Sheedy’s that she was fond of had passed away. After confiding in Mrs. Cassidy the boarding house owner about Walter leaving her, she decided to go back to Ireland where she was welcomed by her family and neighbors.
The remaining Miss Sheedy, Queenie, offered her a place to stay at Stonebridge Inn. And that is when the idea of restoring the Stonebridge Inn to its’ original stature came to be. Using the skills she learned from Mrs. Cassidy in the boarding house, along with the help of an old friend’s delinquent son Rigger, her niece Olga and Miss Sheedy, the Inn is restored and ready to open for its’ first week.
Maeve Binchy introduces each of the characters that made a reservation in a colorful and interesting way that holds the reader’s attention. Knowing the guests background and seeing how they interact and in some cases make lasting friendships is told in a warm and kind way that makes A Week in Winter well worth reading.