Title: Winter Garden
Author: Kristin Hannah
Published: February 2010
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Summary: Meredith and Nina are sisters without much in common. Complete opposites and living on different continents has not fostered a strong relationship between them. But this is not a foreign concept to them as they have dealt with a cold mother who has never shown them affection or love. Luckily, they had their warm and loving father to support them, but when he grows gravely ill it requires them to come together and uphold his requests. One such request is to hear the end of their mother’s fairy tale about a peasant and a prince, which they begin to think may be more than just a fairy tale.
My Thoughts: I actually sort of liked this book, despite my 3 star rating. Kristin Hannah is a great writer, and this book is no exception. This is my 3rd Hannah book and I have come to trust her authorship and the story that lies between the cover of books that hail her name. This book had a slow beginning, although it managed to keep me some-what engaged, and it wasn’t until the last quarter or so of it that I really began to get drawn in. This book is at its best when it is in the fairy tale set in Leningrad. I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read or one that would end up being similar to her most famous book, Nightingale. There were many comparisons to be made with the two stories, but Nightingale is far superior. Parts of Winter Garden seemed to be over done, as if it was a caricature. Nina, Meredith, and their mother were extreme characters that didn’t really seem very realistic. I also found the ending to be hard to believe, however, it didn’t prevent me from responding to the extreme emotionality of it. Overall, this was a solid read despite its flaws. Not Hannah’s best, but certainly a glimpse of her powerhouse abilities.
Book Club Discussion: This was the most universally enjoyed book so far. We have not all agreed on (or finished) all of the other picks. We jived on the peaks and valleys of this book, including what Erin called a “trite” ending. We spent a good deal of time considering how truly similar to Nightingale this story was and reflecting on other Hannah books we have read and enjoyed better. Overall, it was a good pick by Janette. On to the next one…
Next Month’s Pick: To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey