Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Hannah Backlist Book Not My Favorite, But Compelling Nonetheless

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Meredith Cooper and Nina Whitson have never understood their cold, emotionless mother.  They know little about her, always having preferred the company of their warm, loving father.  On his deathbed, he pleads with his grown daughters to make a last effort to break through their mother's defenses and really get to know her.  Mired in grief, Anya Whitson is as impenetrable as ever.  Instead of reaching out to her children for comfort, she spins them a familiar Russian fairy tale that has nothing at all to do with Anya's past ... or does it?  As her story sweeps from grim, war-torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska, unfolding shocking secrets, Meredith and Nina finally get a glimpse of what their mother has suffered and what it has meant for all of their lives.  Will that understanding finally enable them to forge some kind of a relationship with one another?  Or has too much damage been done to ever find reconciliation?

Because of rich, epic novels like The Nightingale and The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah has become an author I watch closely.  Her backlist books haven't impressed me as much as her newer offerings, but I've still enjoyed several of them.  Published a decade ago, Winter Garden offers the kind of intriguing, family-secrets premise that always grabs my attention.  Its execution is a little rough, though.  The characters are difficult to like, especially Anya, whose aloofness toward her children seems extreme even in light of the tragedy she experienced prior to their births.  Her daughters are both self-centered people, although they do experience clarity and growth throughout the story.  In addition, the novel moves at a glacial pace, without the suspense I expected to be woven through the narrative.  The pacing picks up toward the end as Anya's secrets are revealed, but it does become a bit of a slog before that.  I'm not much for fairy tales, so that element of the novel really didn't work for me.  Still and all, I found Winter Garden compelling.  It's devastating, heartbreaking, and touching.  While it's far from my favorite Hannah novel, I did enjoy it for the most part.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), mild sexual content, violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Winter Garden with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm. I have had this on my TBR shelf for quite some time, but keep not choosing to read it despite being a Hannah fan. Now I am not so sure that I want to read it.

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