It’s been a while, yes? But I haven’t forgotten you or the reading challenge! I’m playing a bit of catch up with my reading as my digital marketing business picked up. Still, a goal is a goal, and I am set on reading 52 books again this year.
One of my most recent reads was Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Hannah’s newest book is about mother-daughter relationships and the complexities it brings to the family dynamic.
Meredith and Nina Whitson are sisters with entirely opposite goals in life. Nina grew up to become a photojournalist and travels around the world. Meanwhile back on their family’s orchard, her sister Meredith runs the business alongside her father and family of her own.
Their mother is a whole different story. She grew up in Russia and is very secretive about her past. When Nina and Meredith were children, she would tell them Russian fairytales. The stories stop when one evening the two girls act out one of the fairytales and their mother gets upset for reasons unknown to Nina and Meredith. After that evening, their mother never tells another fairytale.
Nina returns home from one of her trips overseas when Meredith contacts her about their father growing ill. The two women can’t seem to come to an agreement on anything, and their mother isn’t helping. It appears that she is now more closed off than ever. Curious why their mother is the way she is, Nina digs deeper and finds out that their Mother’s fairytales fit the same storyline of war-torn Leningrad.
The book switches back and forth between present and past. Soon the two girls really learn who their mother is and why she is the cold and stubborn woman she is today.
I must say I was surprised… I love all of Hannah’s previous works and am a big fan of her writing. Winter Garden fell flat for me and I wasn’t a fan. Why I didn’t like it had nothing to do with her writing. She still had the same description to detail, tension, and plot that all of her other works had. So what’s wrong with it?
To start, tension is good, but too much can get overwhelming. Between the two daughters not getting along and a mother who is nothing but a grump, it almost made me forget the book altogether. I feel like in order for tension to come off as really powerful, you need those moments where the two sister hug after a very intense moment that doesn’t involve them and their ongoing disagreements.
Winter Garden was also very slow to develop that tension too. I felt like I was sitting around waiting, and waiting for the two sisters to blow up at each other. Instead, it is snippy little comments here and there and internal dialogue that shows the reader how the two women feel about one another.
This one gets two smugglers because she still has a wonderful writing style, but the story itself was a bit dull. It wasn’t for me, but if you’re someone that really enjoys a good fight between family members you’d probably enjoy this one.