Sunday, March 21, 2010

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter GardenI cannot believe how long it takes me recently to get things, such as reviews, done. Especially when it comes to wonderful books that deserve to be spoken about as soon as possible. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is one such book.

The publisher says:

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.

I say:

This book was absolutely amazing. Ms. Hannah's writing is at once to the point and deeply moving. Before you know it, you're drawn into the world she created and don't want to leave. Perhaps, the best testament to the quality of Winter Garden is my sister's reaction. She is not a book worm whatsoever (hi sister!), it is extremely difficult to get her interested in a book even though she tries, judging by a number of books borrowed from me that she started but never finished. And once she starts reading a book, it takes her a long time to finish it, not because she doesn't want to but because her lifestyle doesn't really give her a lot of spare time. With all that in mind, my sister Eva read Winter Garden in two days and called me right after she finished to discuss it. In her words: 'the book was phenomenal and the author's sentences are such that you just want to remember them all and as soon as I get home I'll be writing them down'. Not only did she like it so much that she didn't sleep all night and chose to read instead, but while driving to work, she actually had to pull over to keep reading because she couldn't wait until the end of the day! I think that says it all!!

But I will still say some more. Winter Garden is also heartbreaking and I was unable to stop the tears from flowing freely. The story became so sad and touching to me because the fictional story of Anya's life is probably a real story of many women and men that survived the Leningrad siege. So be prepared for many heartrending passages but also know that you will be rewarded in the end and will most likely want to read Winter Garden all over again. I know I already do (thank goodness I still have three other books Ms. Hannah wrote to read for the first time).

Special thanks to Nicole B. from Authors on the Web for sending me a copy of this book.