A Week in Winter
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"A Week in Winter" Characters Analysis

By Maeve Binchy

fiction | 464 pages | Published in 2012

Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know one another. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House’s big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father’s business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone’s relief; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions. Sharing a week with this unlikely cast of characters is pure joy, full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor. Once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling. This is the last book that Maeve Binchy wrote before her sudden death. As are all her stories, it is her trademark warmth, humor and the kind of characters that will make her books live on. It is a privilege to be able to share this book with readers.


Estimated read time: 7 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Chicky StarrProtagonist
RiggerLove interest
OrlaChicky's sister
BrendaChicky's sister
WinnieChicky's sister
LillianChicky's aunt
JohnChicky's childhood friend
HenryChicky's childhood friend
AndersGuest at the inn
Anders' wifeGuest at the inn
Miss HoweGuest at the inn
Miss QueenieGuest at the inn
Miss StathamGuest at the inn

Role Identification

In "A Week in Winter," Chicky Starr is the main protagonist and the owner of Stone House, an old mansion turned into an inn on the west coast of Ireland. The other characters in the book are primarily the guests who stay at Stone House during a winter week.

Character Descriptions

  1. Chicky Starr: Chicky is a warm-hearted and determined woman in her fifties. She has a friendly and welcoming demeanor, making her an excellent hostess for her inn, Stone House. Chicky is described as having auburn hair and a kind smile.
  2. Rigger: Rigger is a charming and handsome man who becomes romantically involved with Chicky. He is a local fisherman with a laid-back personality and a deep love for the sea. Rigger is described as having tousled dark hair and a mischievous grin.
  3. Orla: Orla is Chicky's younger sister. Unlike Chicky, Orla is impulsive and tends to make rash decisions. She often seeks excitement and adventure, which sometimes leads to trouble. Orla is described as having curly blonde hair and a restless spirit.
  4. Brenda: Brenda is Chicky's other sister, and she is the most practical and level-headed of the three. She is a dedicated mother and wife, and her priorities lie in taking care of her family. Brenda is described as having a neat appearance and a no-nonsense attitude.
  5. Winnie: Winnie is Chicky's youngest sister. She is a sweet and caring woman who is always willing to lend a helping hand. Winnie is described as having a petite frame and a gentle smile.
  6. Lillian: Lillian is Chicky's elderly aunt, who is full of stories and wisdom. She has a sharp wit and a keen eye for observation. Lillian is described as having silver hair and a regal presence.
  7. John: John is one of Chicky's childhood friends. He is a successful businessman with a kind heart. John is described as having a tall and sturdy build, with a friendly face.
  8. Henry: Henry is another childhood friend of Chicky's. He is a reserved and introverted man who runs his own bookstore. Henry is described as having glasses and a thoughtful expression.
  9. Anders: Anders is one of the guests staying at Stone House. He is a wealthy and refined man from Norway. Anders is described as having salt-and-pepper hair and an air of sophistication.
  10. Anders' wife: Anders' wife accompanies him to Stone House. She is an elegant and graceful woman who appreciates the finer things in life. Anders' wife is described as having a slender figure and a refined fashion sense.
  11. Miss Howe: Miss Howe is an older guest who enjoys her solitude. She is an avid reader and spends most of her time engrossed in books. Miss Howe is described as having gray hair and a quiet demeanor.
  12. Miss Queenie: Miss Queenie is another guest at Stone House. She is a lively and sociable woman who loves engaging in conversations with others. Miss Queenie is described as having a friendly smile and a warm personality.
  13. Miss Statham: Miss Statham is a reserved and mysterious guest who keeps to herself. She often seems lost in her own thoughts and rarely interacts with the other guests. Miss Statham is described as having a delicate appearance and a distant gaze.

Character Traits

  1. Chicky Starr: warm-hearted, determined, friendly, welcoming.
  2. Rigger: charming, handsome, laid-back, mischievous.
  3. Orla: impulsive, adventurous, restless.
  4. Brenda: practical, level-headed, dedicated.
  5. Winnie: sweet, caring, gentle.
  6. Lillian: wise, sharp-witted, observant.
  7. John: kind-hearted, successful, friendly.
  8. Henry: reserved, introverted, thoughtful.
  9. Anders: wealthy, refined, sophisticated.
  10. Anders' wife: elegant, graceful, appreciative.
  11. Miss Howe: solitary, avid reader, quiet.
  12. Miss Queenie: lively, sociable, friendly.
  13. Miss Statham: reserved, mysterious, distant.

Character Background

Chicky Starr, born Christina O'Neill, grew up in Stoneybridge, a small village on the west coast of Ireland. After leaving the village at a young age, Chicky moved to America, where she had a successful career in the hotel industry. However, she always felt a strong connection to her hometown and dreamed of returning.

Chicky's sisters, Orla, Brenda, and Winnie, also left Stoneybridge to pursue their own paths. Orla sought adventure and excitement, often finding herself in unpredictable situations. Brenda focused on building a stable family life, while Winnie dedicated herself to caring for others.

Chicky's decision to return to Stoneybridge and open Stone House was driven by her desire to create a welcoming space for visitors, offering them a glimpse of the beauty and warmth of Ireland's west coast. Through her perseverance and passion, Chicky transforms the old mansion into an inviting inn.

Character Arcs

Chicky's character arc in "A Week in Winter" revolves around her journey of self-discovery and finding love. Initially, Chicky is content with running Stone House and providing a comfortable experience for her guests. However, as she becomes closer to Rigger, her childhood friend, and love interest, Chicky begins to question her own happiness and desires.

Throughout the book, Chicky learns to embrace her own needs and desires, allowing herself to pursue a romantic relationship with Rigger. She also reconnects with her sisters and strengthens their bond. By the end of the story, Chicky finds fulfillment in both her personal and professional life, realizing that love and happiness are within her reach.


Chicky's relationship with Rigger is one of the central relationships in the book. They share a deep connection and understanding, rooted in their shared history and love for Stoneybridge. Their romance blossoms slowly but passionately, bringing warmth and joy to both of their lives.

Chicky's relationship with her sisters, Orla, Brenda, and Winnie, is also significant. Despite their differences, they support and care for each other, forming a tight-knit family bond. Through their interactions, the book explores the complexities of sibling relationships and the importance of familial connections.

The relationships between Chicky and her childhood friends, John and Henry, also play a role in the story. They provide support and advice to Chicky, reminding her of her roots and helping her navigate her feelings for Rigger.

The interactions between Chicky and the guests at Stone House, including Anders, Miss Howe, Miss Queenie, and Miss Statham, offer insights into different personalities and perspectives. These interactions contribute to Chicky's growth and provide opportunities for self-reflection.

In "A Week in Winter," Maeve Binchy masterfully weaves together the lives of these characters, showcasing their individual journeys and the ways in which their paths intersect at Stone House. Through her rich and nuanced storytelling, Binchy creates a captivating tale of love, friendship, and self-discovery in the charming setting of the Irish coast.