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Winter Birds

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  418 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Plain and dutiful, Sophia Hess has lived most of her life without ever knowing genuine love. Her professor husband had married her for the convenience of having a typist for his scholarly papers. The discovery of a dark secret opens her eyes to the truth about her marriage and her husband. Eventually nephew Patrick and his wife, Rachel, take Sophia into their home, and she ...more
Paperback, 399 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Bethany House Publishers
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(showing 1-30)
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May 20, 2016 Jeanette rated it liked it
This book was like a cool and deep drink of clear water. If you are thirsty for essence and not hype, this book will satisfy. Other posters have criticized the first person narration of the telling. Not I. In fact I think it worked for this life's "eyes" quite well. Yes, there are numerous I's in that scenario. But instead of taking away with repetition, I think this centered. Because it is all about the normal, unseen and unattractive individual. One who independently puts one foot in front of ...more
Sep 04, 2007 Deb rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, fiction
Imagine gettng an assignment: You must write a novel and include a quote from Shakespeare and an allusion to birdwatching in each and every chapter. Could you do it? I know I couldn't, or that if I did it wouldn't we worth reading, but that's exactly what Jamie Langston Turner has done in this novel, and she makes it look effortless. Of course it helps that her main character is an 80 some year old woman who was married to a Shakespeare scholar and whose main occupation is watching the birds at ...more
Sonia Schoenfield
Oct 26, 2015 Sonia Schoenfield rated it it was amazing
The first part of Winter Birds reminded me of Gilead, lots of thoughts, looking back, getting the picture of the main character a little bit at a time. About half-way through the book, the pace picked up and there was a little more action--not much, though, as the main character is an 80-year-old woman. The end of the book lifted my spirits. The writing was beautiful, and the two devises of using a Shakespeare quote for chapter titles and a sentence or two about a bird species at the beginning o ...more
May 18, 2016 Hope rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity, family
From the first pages of Winter Birds, I reveled in well-crafted sentences and multi-dimensional characters. The title of each chapter is a line from Shakespeare, which is a clue that Ms. Turner might not be your average mediocre Christian author. Allusions to scripture and literature are sprinkled throughout the text:

"I have been young, but now I am old. That is the usual course, though I have often dreamed of how it would be to say I have been old and now I am young, to implant my old mind into
Apr 19, 2010 Sarah rated it did not like it
A coworker and I talked about reading the same genre books to be able to discuss them and further enrich our Reader’s Advisory knowledge. This book won a Christy Award, and therefore counts as inspirational or Christian fiction. I didn’t have high hopes, but it was actually worse than I expected. The writing was horrible. It was written from a first person perspective, and every other sentence started with “I think…” and then usually followed by some snotty remark. The book is about a grouchy ol ...more
Chanel Earl
Jun 29, 2012 Chanel Earl rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chanel by: Jess Turner
Below you will find my original review of the book, written right after I read it. I had rated it three stars.

Now, almost exactly two years later, I am raising it to four. This book isn't really fun to read, but it is nice to think about, and sticks with you. Today I was thinking about the family in the book who have a daughter with special needs. They love her so much and treat her so well. I love the example they give of selfless sacrifice and caring. Well done.


I respect this book. It i
Jim Hamlett
Sep 16, 2012 Jim Hamlett rated it it was amazing
Well executed tale of a bitter old woman who has come to live her final days with a nephew and his wife. Told from her point of view, the story is cleverly framed with chapter headings that are lines taken from Shakespeare's works, followed by descriptions of different birds and their behavior. The main character, Sophie, is reading a bird book, and each description is worked into the theme of each chapter.

Winter Birds is a slow read, but there are many gems of human nature scattered throughout.
Carol Preston
Apr 27, 2013 Carol Preston rated it liked it
An interesting read of 80 year old Sophie's ruminations about her life while living with her nephew and his wife. While perhaps a quite realistic review of many people's lives, it was quite depressing in parts. I found the nephew an unappealing and annoying character who could leave a reader with a very negative impression of Christians, while his wife, Rachael was all a Christian woman ought to be. Sadly, I'm not sure the negative impression wouldn't be the most lasting for some readers. For th ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Franknannie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
This is one of Jamie Langston Turner's finest novels. I loved Sophie from beginning to end. I won't go into detail, but be sure to read this beautiful book! You will not regret the time it takes to read this masterfully crafted story. It has left me thinking about Sophie and her thoughts long after I turned the last beautiful page.
Jan 11, 2016 Miki rated it really liked it
Happened on this book by chance at the library and found it a very good read. Interesting characters and plot. Really enjoyed the information about different birds at the start of each chapter and how the author wove that information in to the story.
Kristin Runyon
Feb 18, 2010 Kristin Runyon rated it it was amazing
Differing from her other books, this is my favorite Jamie Langston Turner book. There is something less formulaic and more personal in it. I read this book when my grandmother was in the winter of her own life. I found myself changing my perspective on life and death in subtle, yet profound ways.
Kris Ludwinski
Mar 16, 2010 Kris Ludwinski rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I just love the effortless way that Jamie Turner writes. I have also read her Some Wildflower and Suncatchers, and though I think Some Wildflower barely edges out Winter Birds for me, I just loved this book. And it is one I will think about for a long time to come.

I ended up loving the present tense prose, though I did not think I would like that. Mrs. Turner develops her characters in the most interesting, careful way that causes a reade
Sep 12, 2016 Lynette rated it did not like it
Shelves: christy
Couldn't even finish it. It was so boring it made my head hurt to read it.
Mar 28, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it
This book is the story of an 80 year old woman who is in the winter of her life and living with her nephew and his wife. She is generally embittered by life, and only near the end begins to open her heart to love and faith. The author has a good writing style, and I liked the plot, particularly the fact that she doesn't attempt to sugarcoat the problems or disappointments of the main character's life. Also, she allows her characters to undergo genuine growth and development throughout the story, ...more
Linda Glass
Aug 17, 2016 Linda Glass rated it really liked it
Yes, there are some literary novels in the genre dubbed "Christian" and this is one of them. Not sappy nor overly sentimental it's the story of a cynical and disillusioned 80 year old woman, Sophia, a former English teacher who endured a loveless marriage to a cold Shakespearean scholar. She promises her estate to her nephew and his wife is return for room, board, and her care. The couple is deeply religious. He is a pious, long winded know-it-all. His long suffering wife is quietly devoted. Sop ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Liesl rated it did not like it
A blurb on the front of the book says this has "genuine humor and great character development". (Or at least something like that.) I think I was 2/3 of the way through the book before I even thought about laughing. Maybe it's an intelligent book in the way they kept using birds and Shakespeare to make the point, but I just found that annoying and pretentious. I suppose the overall intent of the book was nice - old woman who has had many disappointments in life learns to appreciate life and trust ...more
Sep 07, 2011 Jeanie rated it it was amazing
This probably is the best Christian book I have read thus far. The author writes brilliantly and poetically. If you are the type of reader that wants to reflect and see life slowed down, you will so much appreciate this story about an older woman that comes to live out her life with her nephew and his wife. Sophie the older woman has lived life without knowing love or affection, has become somewhat cynical in life. The story is written from her point of view. She uses humor and candor that is ve ...more
Apr 17, 2014 Delene rated it liked it
This book has great characters and although the story itself was not a page turner, I was interested in finding out where everyone was going to end up. The tale is told by Aunt Sophie who is 80 and living with her nephew and his wife in the "winter" of her life. The author does a great job of capturing the thoughts of this elderly aunt with honesty, grit and a sense of humor. I think most of us would want an Aunt Sophie (after we got to know her) -- and many of us are much like Aunt Sophie in ou ...more
Jun 08, 2014 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. The main character is Sophie, an 80 year old woman pays her way to live with a nephew and his wife. The story seems quiet as she settles into the convenient, and not so convenient, aspects of settling into their home. She thinks about the people around her, reads obits from old Time magazines, quotes Shakespeare, and reflects about her life and marriage. Sounds nondescript, and yet I kept reading. There are surprises in the present and the past that make things more interesting. Alo ...more
Feb 06, 2017 Rachel rated it really liked it
I forgot how much I enjoy Jamie Langston Turner's writing. She has a nice way with words and a carefully crafted sense of humor. It was nice to see the growth in Sophia and the power of love throughout the course of this book.
Paty Mtz
Its a lovely story. About love.. not romantic but friendly, family and humanly love. Have some great comments that ill turn into quotes:

+ "But then, I ask myself, what kind of death would qualify as a happy ending—for the person most directly affected, that is?" jeje.. finally I do not have the power to make a choice!

+"Yes, I have a heart condition. It is called an understanding of reality".

+ "Rudeness often requires energy"... and Im too tired for that.

+"Yes, and if frogs had wings, they wouldn
Kristine Hansen
Unsure what my thoughts are on this one and wonder if I might have to think about it a bit before posting a real review. I felt like the author was spending all of her time in telling me the story, but not allowing me to experience it. So much introspection and so little action. Yet oddly enough, it worked.

I'd call this a literary read, something designed to make you ponder, to experience. I found myself liking the book though honestly I fought not to. It isn't the usual kind of thing I read at
Nov 14, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 20, 2011 Robi rated it really liked it
I liked the premise of the little old lady interviewing relatives to determine with whom she would spend her final years. They in turn would be rewarded with her wealth after her death. She was a miserable, snobby little critter. However, she had suffered much heartache in her life that contributed to her outlook on things and people. I enjoyed seeing the subtle little changes in her interaction with people; and I dearly loved the ending paragraph which used the Ruth and Naomi quotation reversel ...more
Jennifer Bowers
Jul 09, 2014 Jennifer Bowers rated it really liked it
This writer was new to me, but I immediately sought out another of her titles after reading this. It's told from the perspective of an old lady in her last years, a non-Christian observing and unwittingly involved with the relatives who have taken her in. She's a crusty old bat, probably not very likable, but by the end she has come out of her shell and starts to enjoy life, instead of just waiting for the end.
Jul 26, 2011 Ingrid added it
This is a book paced as ploddingly as the narrator of our story-- and octagenarian. The pace, instead of being boring, lends itself to the slow unfolding and warming of the heart of the story. The characters are slightly overdrawn which allows for much humor that tempers the deep thoughts tackled here.It took me a while to wade through this book, but I 'm glad I did. I LOVED this book and promptly mailed it to a friend to enjoy as well.
Jan 05, 2012 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: new-author
Really 3 1/2 stars. For about the first half of the book I found the story to be little more than the reflections of a bitter old lady, Aunt Sophie. As her life becomes more involved and linked to her nephew and his wife that took her in to care for her in her later days, Sophie's heart begins to soften and open to God's love and grace. Glad I stuck with it because it ends well.
Mar 23, 2011 Stephanie rated it liked it
A ponderous book. The outside states it is humerous & I didn't find it humerous at all. I had to skip some parts that just went on and on but overall by the end of the book I enjoyed it. The second half of the book gets good.
Apr 02, 2009 Elsie rated it really liked it
Shelves: turner
I love the way Jamie Turner builds her characters, allowing them to be "real" people and then letting them grow and change. She uses interesting vehicles to build her story line upon so you learn more while enjoying her story.
Mar 02, 2009 Margaret rated it it was amazing
Turner peels back the layers of the shell around an old woman's heart in this book. Use of Shakespeare references, and bird discription to tie in with each chapter is an interesting conceit. I loved this book, although the plot is somewhat improbable it didn't matter.
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Jamie Langston Turner is the award-winning author of seven novels, including Sometimes a Light Surprises, Winter Birds, and Some Wildflower in my Heart, and has been a teacher for more than forty years. She is currently a professor of poetry and creative writing at Bob Jones University. Jamie lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with her husband.
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