Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Winter Garden…. Wow. I cannot stop thinking about this book. I have had Kristin Hannah books on my to-be-read list for quite some time but never read one. On the recommendation of several people, I finally picked up Winter Garden. My only disappointment is that I didn’t read it earlier. While I kind-of felt the book started off slowly, I soon realized that all the detail and establishing family dynamics and characters was absolutely necessary. After about 100 pages or so, I found myself not able to put the book down and by the end, I was absolutely captivated. Last Saturday night, I laid reading in my bed and knew that I wouldn’t be going to sleep until I finished. At midnight, I laid there with tears streaming down my face, soaking my pillow on both sides of my head, while I finished this unforgettable story. It was probably at least another hour or so before I was able to fall asleep because I could not stop thinking about the story and the characters.
I am hugely fascinated and do a ton of reading on WWII and the holocaust but not once have I read anything from the Russian perspective. I found the history and siege on Leningrad heart-wrenching but absolutely amazing. During this time, men were required to leave their families to fight in the war which left behind the women and children. What these women and children went through was absolutely devastating. They lived on little food, cold winter conditions…. Many didn’t survive. This story is about a lady named Anya who grew up in Leningrad during this awful time. She now lives in America with her husband, Evan, and two daughters, Meredith and Nina. Anya, a very cold and almost rude lady, has been telling her daughters a fairy tale, which essentially is an abbreviated, watered-down version of her true life story. Anya spends a lot of time in her winter garden where it is frigid cold, which doesn’t seem to phase Anya. When Evan falls ill, he makes a dying wish and makes Nina promise to get Anya to tell them the entire fairytale…. all the way to the end. The book goes back and forth between modern day and Anya’s life back in Leningrad…… all the way to the end of the stories.
Although you may have to push through the first part of the book, you won’t be disappointed to read this, especially if you are a fan of WWII and/or historical-focused fiction. Lately, I have been reading some great books….. and it takes a lot for me to rate high enough to be a favorite, but this book is definitely made that list.
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