Several months ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale.” Set in France during World War II, the novel focuses on the horrors of war and the bravery of two sisters.
Having enjoyed that story, I looked for another Kristin Hannah novel and found “Winter Garden,” which was published several years ago. Hannah deals with similar themes in this story, especially the effects on war on women.
Meredith and her sister Nina are two strong, independent sisters. Meredith runs the family apple growing business in Washington state. Nina is a photograph who travels to hot spots around the world taking pictures for news publications. Both sisters have a stranded relationship with Anya, their icy and enigmatic mother.
When the girls were growing up, their mother told them a fairy tale-like story of her native country–Russia. Filled with princes and evil goblins, the story was something the girls looked forward to. Now as adults, this story will become a way of understanding the true history of their mother and unlock a secret past.
After the death of their father, the girls, especially Nina, force their mother to tell the story again. In this telling the story evolves from a fairy tale to an account of Anya’s life in Leningrad during World War II. The horrors of life in Leningrad during the German siege of that city, help us to understand the character of Anya and bring a reconciliation with her daughters.
“Winter Garden” is a strong story about three strong women. Although some may feel that the ending is too contrived, I felt that the characters deserved happiness.