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A Week in Winter

by Maeve Binchy |

REVIEWED BY ROBIN MICHELI

NOVEL

Reading this novel is like ducking out of a cold rain into a fire-warmed pub filled with laughter. Fittingly, this posthumously published work by Ireland’s beloved lady of letters is itself a love letter to her homeland, especially to life in tiny villages where everyone knows everyone else’s business. It’s classic Binchy in other ways too, intertwining the stories of several characters and championing strong women. At its center is Chicky Starr, a twentysomething Irish lass who’s left alone and heartbroken in New York City and learns to fend for herself. Two decades later she moves back to her small town of Stoneybridge on the country’s west coast to open a seaside hotel. Those who pass through the Stone House experience a kind of transformational magic: the fulfillment of a dream, the discovery of one’s true self, the chance for redemption. Binchy offers a final chance to enjoy her winning characters and the charm of Irish culture-and this time, even if vicariously, the solace of coming home.

The Dinner

by Herman Koch |

REVIEWED BY ANDREW ABRAHAMS

FICTION

In this chilling tale about class and the bounds of family devotion, the knives come out as two Dutch couples-including two brothers who loathe each other-dine in a snooty restaurant. Over the course of a tense meal, they quarrel about how to handle their privileged teenage sons’ despicable act of violence toward a homeless woman. Already a bestseller in Europe, Koch’s skewering of elitism and self-serving morality is a wickedly delicious feast.

Shouting Won’t Help

by Katherine Bouton |

REVIEWED BY RICHARD EISENBERG

NON-FICTION

This former editor’s memoir reveals the daily challenges faced by America’s 48 million hearing impaired, a number expected to grow as the population ages. Going deaf led to depression for Bouton and nearly ended her marriage, but a cochlear implant and hearing aids helped. Research may lead to even more effective treatments. In the meantime: Don’t shout.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com