Monday, August 5, 2013

Didn't Expect a Great Read: Winter Garden

Winter Garden
By Kristin Hannah

My copy by Nook

I was expecting another romance novel.  I have never read Kristen Hannah before. The reason I picked this up was for the book club discussion today.  Actually the book was chosen by accident.  I am glad it was. I was not expecting such a awesome novel.  I expected a another romance novel.

It is the story of Meredith, and Nina. Meredith is the homebody and responsible one. She stays home to take of the house, and children and family, and  family orchard business in Washington State. Where Nina, has a boyfriend, Daniel. She is a photojournalist, and is traveling all over the world.

 But, then their father becomes ill. He asks each one of them to promise to listen to the fairy tale. You see when they were younger they were told the story but never the entire Russian fairytale.  This is the only connection the mother has with her daughter. Their mother is very cold and disapproving.   Her mother Anya is a very cold and disapproving.  Her daughters have never been able to get close to her.  Their Dad, is a very warm caring person,

The story of Anya is told through fairy tales. Anya's life in Leningrad has been kept a secret for over fifty years. The story goes back and forth in time.  The sister's eventually find out the hidden truth about their mother.  This story is about secrets, family, motherhood, it is historical fiction.

I did not expect this from a novel. I thought it would be a light fluff novel.  It is light reading, but it is heavy subject matter.  It takes you to Leningrad, to Alaska, and Washington state to find out the secrets, and find ways to understand their mother's odd behavior.  Why did she go out to the winter garden ? What happened to her children? What happened to her family? How did she end up in the United States?

The first half of the novel was not getting anywhere then when she started talking about Leningrad it became interesting for me. I am a sap when it comes to history.  After reading this I want to do some research with the Leningrad Seige.  For the first time in a digital book, there is supplemental reading and book club discussions questions at the end. There is some Russian recipes that you can use for your book club.


How would you feel finding out the answers to your family later on in life? I would be upset that it is after many years that years have been wasted trying to make up for lost time. There is not alot of time to understand your mother and her secrets? But, you can't cry over spilled milk either.

There is one thing that asks the question at our book club? How can you make a choice on which child should you stay with? Could you? I don't think I could.  Anya has to decide they have train tickets to get out of the country.
Her son is very ill, and will most likely will die.  He can not get on the train because he is ill. Her daughter is healthy, would you be able to send her away, and you stay behind? You know the son will not survive, how do you choose?

The shocking truth at the end of the story.   When we find out what happened and the secret was out.
I could not believe the end of the story. I was at the doctor's office and did not want anyone to see me crying and wiping the tears.   I was so glad I just finished the book, and headed right for the book club.  What timing. This is a novel you can't wait to discuss, and especially since I just finished it... It was so heart wrenching.  At the end you need lots of tissues, and a shoulder to cry on!!

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