I had a bit of a challenge finding a book for this Irish week I’ve created for myself. I wanted a book written by an Irish author, and set in Ireland, and one that I could read in a few weeks, keeping in mind that I’m working full time, which left out Ulysses, and that’s was the only Ireland-set, Irish author book I own. Thankfully, I remembered another author, one I used to have on my shelves (I loaned the book out and never saw it again): Maeve Binchy. I went to the library, and thankfully, they had one on the shelves: A Week in Winter.
A Week in Winter is ostensibly the story of a woman who opens an inn in her small Irish town, and of her first week in business. (I’ll let you guess the season.) It’s more a study of various character then a novel; when I think “novel”, I think “single narrative”, and this didn’t have it. Instead, each chapter told the story of one character, starting in their teenage years, if not in their childhood, and going up to a certain point in time, then the next chapter would go a little further in time, until the book ends, at the end of the week. This means that the strength of the story relied entirely on the characters, which are, for the most part, interesting and even likable in some cases. But even the unlikable characters make for a good read, and that takes talent.
The only downside, and I’ll admit it’s a serious point, was the end of the book. The last two chapters, to be precise. Up until that point, it had been made clear that the stories of the characters only loosely connected to each other, but with those last two chapters, it felt like the author was trying to bring everything back into one narrative, and tie it up in a neat little bow. The last chapter especially gave the impression that she was trying to give each character a magic happily ever after, and since the end point of each chapter already ended the character’s journey on a high note, that last chapter was overkill, in my opinion.
I still enjoyed the book, overall, and recommend it to everyone who wants several good examples of how you set up a character and tell its story in one chapter.