Saturday, February 4, 2012

Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden
Author: Kristin Hannah
Published: February 2, 2010
Genre: chick lit
Paperback: 436 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from GoodReads): 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 Thoughts: After reading Firefly Lane and True Colors this past summer, I fell in love with Kristin Hannah's writing. Her stories are beautifully written and emotional and are able to touch a chord in me that I haven't experienced with other authors. So, I purchased this book, figuring that I would like it just as much as those first two books that I read. And while it was good, it certainly didn't live up to those first two books.

This story seemed to focus more on the individual members of a family instead of the family as a whole. You get Meredith's story and Nina's story, but even when they are together, it's almost as if their stories are separate. I didn't feel that bond between them that I felt in Hannah's other novels. And the relationship that they have with their mother, Anya, was a departure from Hannah's other books. They are three individuals instead of a family. And while that was part of the story, even when they came together at the end, it still didn't feel like they were truly a family.

I did like the historical aspect of this novel and how Hannah was able to balance the present and the past. It was great that Anya told the story to her daughters instead of using flashbacks. I also liked that Anya was from Russia, and I haven't read many World War II stories that are set in Russia. It was heartbreaking reading about the lives of the people living in Leningrad during this period in history.

While not my favorite Kristin Hannah novel, it was still a good book and I can't wait to read more of her work. If you haven't read any of Hannah's novels yet, then what are you waiting for?!?

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