Kristin Hannah's books have been recommended to me by a lot of friends, and I love the cover arts! (Who said we can't judge a book by a cover?) UnfortKristin Hannah's books have been recommended to me by a lot of friends, and I love the cover arts! (Who said we can't judge a book by a cover?) Unfortunately, I read The Night Road as my first book, and did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed works by other similar authors, namely, Picoult and Chamberlain.
However, at the persuasion of more friends, I decided to give her another chance, so I chose Winter Garden as my fluff read at the end of last year to balance the stress. I was so wrong.
The story was about two sisters, who were never loved by their Mom growing up, so each was sad and broken in her own way, yet managed to lead a quite normal and successful life as an adult. When their Dad died, they returned home, and insisted to find the answer for their Mom's sadness and alienation.
I had tears streaming down my face when I tapped the last page on my Kindle, sitting at a Barnes and Noble cafe table, with people staring at me and murmuring to each other. I was wrong. This was definitely not a fluff read and indeed something with substance. It shows us the extreme of loss and grief; the pain that comes with loss when we love too much. We protect ourselves from the same pain happening to us again...by not loving.
The story also taught me a bit of history of Leningrad during WWII, although, as a Chinese with extent knowledge of communism and the Cultural Revolution, nothing surprised me under the sun. However, the story still filled me with extreme sadness, regardless of the perfect ending. So, I was wrong again by judging an author with one book. My next read will be Firefly Lane...which most of my friends loved. There's nothing I love more than stories of women friendship! ...more
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. ThisThis book is about love.
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This book drew me in from the first page until the end. The book was written in a narrative, story-telling style that is very intriguing and mythical. Having the majority of the story taking place in Burma also added to the allure.
The story begins when Julia Win arrived Burma, looking for her Father who left suddenly without a trace 4 years ago, leaving her Mom and two children. She met an older man in a tea house who asked her a question:
"Do you believe in love?" "Of course I am not referring to those outbursts of passion that drive us to do and say things that well will later regret, that delude us into think we cannot live without a certain person....a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on to what we cannot." "No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death."
Thus this unforgettable story begins, a love that transcends 50 years, from Kalaw to New York and back; a love that defies time and distance. The descriptions of Asia and mythical practices and beliefs were very accurate, though unbelievable for most westerners. The ending was quite satisfactory in my point of view. Although I would love to hear more about Julia and his Dad's life in New York, as well as more descriptions of everyday life in Burma, since this story captivated me so. I guess I just didn't want it to end...
I do have a question remain after finishing the book: Is the bond of romantic love is ultimately stronger than the familial one, or are the two incomparable? Can they be exclusive? If they are, which one would you give up?...more
The poise is a 3, but her style is definitely higher. She's one of the funniest persons I've read and Imlaughed out loud so many times in the beginninThe poise is a 3, but her style is definitely higher. She's one of the funniest persons I've read and Imlaughed out loud so many times in the beginning 1/2 of the book. However, her style gets old after a while and the later chapters feel overly manufactured. ...more
First 70% of book, 5-star. Last quarter, 3.5 stars. Review to come after discussion with book group. This book, especially the writing style and word
First 70% of book, 5-star. Last quarter, 3.5 stars. Review to come after discussion with book group. This book, especially the writing style and words that chill you to the bones, deserves one. If I have to choose a best writer of the year, it would be Ivey. Beautiful and lyrical poise. ...more
You hate bad language and have a weak stomach. You love long, windy and beautiful prose. You are looking for something happy aDo not read this books if:
You hate bad language and have a weak stomach. You love long, windy and beautiful prose. You are looking for something happy and fluff. You can't stand cruel acts against others, especially minors. You need confirmation that life and beautiful, or you believe that all human are capable of love.
If you belong to one of the above groups, you possibly shouldn't read a book that begins with two girls burying their parents in the back yard, should you? I think you should stop and walk away now. But, if you are an adventurous and open-minded type, and a serious reader who enjoy all sorts of delivering ideas and language, then this books would be a treat for you. Before you dive it, I'll have to alert you, every possible crime and unimaginable cruelty under the sky was committed by someone or to someone in this book.
I think I might have an affinity to child narrators, since I've loved and praised so many (except Room). Yet here's another wonderful book narrated by a child, the 15-year-old Marnie. Marnie has a sister, Nelly, who's 12. Both smart, precocious and understand life much better than you and I do. When both parents died under some unpreventable circumstances, the girls decided to bury them in the back yard, since their parents were not the loving/caring kind, the girls absolutely hated the foster system, and Marnie was not yet 16. They were hoping to hide the secret until Marnie turned 16 and be responsible of both herself and her sister, which she has been doing anyway.
The book is narrated by three voices: Marnie, Nelly and Lennie. Lennie is an older gay man who took the girls under his wings, hoping for some kind of redemption for a mistake he committed a while ago. Lennie's parts were written as if he was talking to his partner, whom he lost a while ago. Marnie's narratives were brutal, down-to-the-point, and lack of polish with a bit of humor. It took me a while to get used to, but then I fell for her hard and couldn't get her out of my mind. She was practically a baby but had to endure so much but acting tough, since there was no one to look after her.
"Our phone died. Just like that. We can't call the local constabulary and we can't call an ambulance. Have you ever heard of such a thing? A calamity and no mistake."
"I just don't get why anyone would want to ink their name or their secrets on the surface of their skin, why can't they just keep them inside like I do?....I'm never getting a tattoo. My secrets are etched safely on the inside and I intend to keep them there."
The book was a page-turner for me. I think the author did quite a good job in keeping the plot interesting and engaging. The characters were great. Each of them was deep and etched vividly in my mind no matter how unimportant they were in the story. I deliberately slowed down reading near the end just to enjoy Marnie and Nelly's voices a bit more. This author was successful in building a great plot as well as developing his characters, which I've only seen in a few authors. The ending was also quite satisfactory.
I was in the middle of several "My family was a toxic dump, yet I turned out amazing" books, and wanted a break from all the negativity and dysfunctioI was in the middle of several "My family was a toxic dump, yet I turned out amazing" books, and wanted a break from all the negativity and dysfunction. I desperately needed a book with normal and happy people. This book, indeed, was a fast and somewhat happy read, and the people was somewhat normal, as normal as the people in yours, or my neighborhood.
As a realtor of a quaint New England town near the North Shores, Hildy Good has been a top-seller for many years. She's 60, divorced, kids grown, lives comfortably alone and makes good money. People think she's a witch (which is not true), since she knows everything and everyone quite well, not to mention that she's also the descendant of a witch that was hung at the Salem's Witch Trial. She could just read people and houses very well by observing and noticing clues. Her friends and family also think she's an alcoholic (this might be true,) although she constantly denies it since she could function quite normally after a glass or two. She's a fun, humorous, witty, no-nonsense and likable narrator.
This book reminded me how much I enjoy reading character-driven books. The last few that I enjoyed were The Darlings, The World Without You, The Snow Child and The Death of Bees. There are the rich McCallisters, who just moved in. Brian is busy and so much older than his young, lonely and infertile wife, Rebecca. There's Frank, who is the town garbage man and fix-anything guy....whom Hilda had a special relationship with. There's Peter, who's a shrink with an office upstairs whom Hilda and her friends babysat when younger... There are Patch and Cassie with their special-need son, Jake. I wished the author had described their physical appearance a bit more. The image of Hildy in my visual mind is blurry, although I know her quite well now. However, somewhere in the book, we did learn that Frank looks like a gnome, and Rebecca is skinny and elegant. The author used the following poem to describe her:
"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones......(She moved in circles, and those circles moved)....
A quick and easy read, and the unexpected twist at the end was a surprise.
For those who are interested in my "My family was a toxic dump, yet I turned out amazing" books. I'm also in the middle of: "Wild" and "With or Without You." I just finished "The Death of Bees."...more