Books: Fiction - A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy, Published by Orion Books, £18.99

A Week in Winter will be a bittersweet read for fans of best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy, who died in July this year aged 72 after a short illness.

Binchy’s final novel does not disappoint. It is full of her trademark humour and realistic observations. Through the lives and emotions of her characters, she shows that what is often seen on the surface is not actually what lies beneath.

Chicky Ryan lives in Stoneybridge, on the west coast of Ireland. She falls in love and moves to New York. Years later, she surprises everyone when she returns to help Queenie Sheedy convert her cliff-top home, Stone House, from a place of disrepair into a welcoming hotel.

It is winter when the hotel opens and Chicky and her staff welcome their first guests. They include a librarian; an American who arrived in impulse having missed his flight; a Swedish accountant; Nurse Winnie, who’s with Lillian, the companion from hell; and troubled doctors Henry and Nicola. Both staff and guests have great expectations for that week’s break...