For anyone who has a mom or a sister – or, preferably, both – this book is a MUST read! At the risk of making my mom (or my sister) upset, I can truly say that Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden rings true to my core. Reading this book has been both a pleasure and a nightmare – as it resonates so soundly with so many emotions I’ve had growing up.
My mother is a wonderful woman. She is strong, she is independent, she is smart. She has a low scratchy voice and sounds gruff sometimes. She is loving – but not in the huggy-kissy kind of way. She’s loving in the naggy-Jewish way….she has opinions and she will share them with you, whether you want her to or not! And, while no grown woman likes to have her mother tell her what to do – I’ll give her this: many times, she’s right.
My sister is another force. She is brilliant. She is funny. She is beautiful. She and I are as similar as we are different. It’s a bit unsettling, actually. David says that “participating” in a conversation with the two of us is more like watching the International Ping-Pong championship…..Like both my mother and myself, Steff has opinions and she’ll share them willingly. Not only will she share them, she’ll overshare them…but that’s ok – it makes her HER.
So, I can only imagine my mom had Steff and I both in mind when she suggested I read Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah. (Normally, when my mom suggests books, I have read them, so this was quite the surprise. I have read other books by Hannah (Firefly Lane and Between Sister) and loved them both, so it wasn’t hard to convince me! ) Off the bat, this book rattled my cage. I’m only 1/2 way through it, but it is so moving and powerful, I wanted to share my thoughts with y’all before the full review!
Anya is a Russian immigrant who marries Evan, an American man with whom she is DEEPLY, MADLY in love. And, while she has no problem displaying that affection with him, she is icy-cold to her two daughters, Meredith and Nina. As the two girls age, their relationship with their mother becomes more and more strained, while the relationship with their father grows. The only fond memory they have of their mother is, as Meredith calls it “The Voice.” Anya, while cold in all other facets, is transported to a whole-other place when she tells her daughters “fairy-tales”. However, one Christmas, when the girls decide to perform the fairy-tale as a play, they lose that ONE connection to their mother forever – she stops telling stories!
Upon Evan’s death, he asks each sister to play a role in re-solidifying the family: Meredith is to take care of Anya; Nina is to, finally, get Anya to finish the fairy-tale she so-often told the girls as children.
While the story is still unfolding – I’m only 1/2 way finished – this book is a tale of family. And, with some very minor tweaks, could be my family….It is a tale of sibling love and rivalry, tough-as-nails-moms and the desire to please your parents. I’ve already started to choke up – which obviously means I’ve have some unattended mommy/sister “issues” – but it also means that this well-written novel by Hannah is a wonderful read!
Stay tuned for the summary and grades!
Until then, TGIF and have a great weekend!