My first book review for this year is Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. It is also book number one for my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge. I love the Goodreads page and app! It’s how I keep up with all the books I’ve read or want to read. Each year they have a reading challenge where you agree to try and read a certain number of books. This year I’ve said I will try and read 35 books. Last year I managed 21 out of 35 as sadly I just don’t have as much time to read as I would like.
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 travelled the world to become a famous photo-journalist. 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.
Kristin Hannah is a new author for me and was handed on to me by my lovely friend, Jill from That Book, This Day.
Her writing style is very easy to read and I was able to get into the book straight away. Both Meredith and Nina are introduced straight away. Meredith has stayed close to home and worked in the family business, whilst Nina has travelled the world chasing her career.
For the best part of the book I really didn’t like Meredith. I felt that she was stuck in a rut in her life but instead of doing something about it she just kept making excuses. Both Meredith and Nina had built huge walls around themselves. But this is because of the way their mother had kept them at a distance for the whole of their lives.
It is not until their father dies and they begin to learn the haunting tale of their mother, Anya’s early life in war-torn Leningrad that you really begin to warm to their characters.
Not knowing a lot about Russian history, I was horrified at the tale that Anya tells over the course of the book. It is a factually accurate account of life in Leningrad during World War II.
As Anya’s story unfolds, the bond between the sisters and their mother finally grows stronger.
Make sure you have some tissues handy for the ending. I can guarantee you that there will be tears. But I do think you will like Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.
***This post contains an Affiliate Link. If you choose to purchase something I will receive a small commission***