Sunday, March 25, 2012
Review: Winter Garden
Author: Kristen Hannah
Length: 391 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fiction, Historical fiction
Synopsis (from Goodreads): From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.
My Review: This book was a little slow to get started. I would say I was at least 1/3 of the way through before I became invested. The three women were leading completely different lives and though we would get pictures of them there was nothing that united them in the story. The three individual stories were not enough by themselves to engage me. In fact, Meredith actually irritated me a little with her self-sacrificing manner and her refusal to deal with her immediate family problems.
Once Nina finally came home and the fairy tale was being told in it's entirety I didn't want to put the book down. It's such an overwhelming story that I find it hard to believe that there is anyone who could not be moved by it.
It is interesting to watch the relationship change and evolve with the three women but that is definitely a secondary story line.
If you are interested in WWII, fairy tales, and are a sucker for a good tear jerker than definitely give this book a try. I haven't had a book make me cry like that in, well I can't remember when.