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.
The town of Rossmore is a special place, full of character charm. Nestled beside the Whitethorn Wood, the town has grown since the days when it was small and friendly and everyone knew everyone else; now it has chain stories and traffic problems and housing estates. But still, there is the Whitethorn Wood, full of spiky bushes and criss-crossed with paths; and there's St Ann's Well, where generations have come to pray or make wishes or just to look back at the pretty little town. Which is why there is going to be such a fuss about the plans for the new motorway. It's going to by-pass Rossmore, cutting through the Whitethorn Wood and endangering the well itself. The new road will bring jobs and relieve traffic in the town; for others, it will destroy businesses and leave the town a backwater. The people of Rossmore are divided. There is a lot of land standing in the way of the great road of progress. Quite by accident the decision rests on Neddy Nolan - the most honest man in Rossmore. A man determined to do the right thing.
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