Friday, March 21, 2014

Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah (audio)

"Nina stared at the women who had raised her and aw the truth at last.  
 Her mother was a lioness.  A warrior.  A women who'd chosen a life of hell for herself because she wanted to give up and didn't know how. 
And with that small understanding came another, bigger one. Nina suddenly saw her own life in focus.  All these years, she'd been traveling the world over, looking for her own truth in other woman's lives.
But it was here all along, at home with the one woman she'd never even tried to understand.
How could any women know her own story until she knew her mother's?"

"They would always be a family, but if she'd learned anything in the past few weeks it was that a family wasn't a static thing.  There were always changes going on.  Like with continents, sometimes the changes were invisible and underground and sometimes they were explosive and deadly.  The trick was to keep your balance.  You couldn't control the direction of your family any more than you could stop the continental shell from breaking apart.  All you could do was hold on for the ride." 

Goodreads Summary: 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. 

As one reader stated, Winter Garden was a "truly mesmerizing and enchanting novel about survival, enduring love, family, and the choices that can forever haunt you."  I have been a huge fan of Kristen  Hannah (especially with Firefly Lane and Night Road) and was excited that she had ventured in the genre of historical fiction.  I absolutely loved this book!  I am a huge fan of anything World War II and this novel had an unique perspective of the Siege of Leningrad in Russia.  I really enjoyed learning about Anya's story as she told it to her daughters as a fairy tale (which I love) and seeing how it shaped their lives both as children and adults.  Hearing the story told this way made the novel extremely powerful and showed the importance of family and learning to live with the past.  I cried through the entire last hour or so on the way home from work.  This was an amazing book and one that I will remember for a long time!

This book was #3 on my top ten list of 2014.

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