It’s about time for another book review, wouldn’t you say? Last year I did a whole lot of reading (77 books by the end!) but not a whole lot of writing about reading. So, this year I hope to change that and review the books I read at least somewhat regularly.
First on my list for 2017: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.
This book was recommended to me by a coworker back in August, but it came with the strict instructions to wait until winter to read it. It took some patience, but I’m glad I managed to hold off until January! I think reading it during the colder months really enhanced the setting of the book, which, you guessed it, is cold. The book alternates between present day and the past – Leningrad during WW2 to be exact. So when I say cold, I mean wintertime in Russia cold.
I found it fascinating to learn about the siege of Leningrad, a part of history I am largely unfamiliar with as most of the WW2 novels I’ve read focus on England and France during that time. In Winter Garden, the history of Leningrad develops alongside the present day relationship between a mother and her two daughters – Meredith, who stays home to take care of her parents, and Nina, who is a globetrotting, free-spirited, world famous photographer. Their situation with their parents help bring these two very different women together, and as the history of Leningrad unfolds, their relationship with their mother takes on new meaning, too. Both stories are rich, complicated, and in some ways, unbelievable.
That is the one word I have to describe the ending: unbelievable, but not impossible. I felt like the end was a bit rushed and underdeveloped in terms of plausibility, but I could just be a skeptic. It did make for an extraordinary story, which in and of itself is worth reading. If you do end up reading this book, let me know… I have an alternate ending I came up with that I think would’ve worked well and I would love to share and discuss what you think!
Kristin Hannah is a skilled writer who most recently received large acclaim for Nightingale, which remains one of my favorite books (also about sisters during WW2, this time in France). If I had to choose between the two, I’d recommend Nightingale first, but Winter Garden is also an overall excellent book. This is the first time I’ve saved a book to coincide with a specific season, but I may do more of it. Thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recent blog post, I now have a few more wintertime reads to add to my list before it gets warm again!
Hopefully starting the year with such a good book is a sign of things to come. Cheers to good reading in 2017!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Stats: 401 pages
Recommended for: When you’re in the mood to hunker down and get cozy with a book in winter, and anyone who is a fan of historical fiction.
Up Next: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve read Blink twice but this is my first time getting to any of his other books. It’s about time! Rented this from the library in hopes that it will help me stick to my resolution of renting more books than I buy this year. 🙂