Ns's Reviews > Winter Garden

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
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's review
Dec 14, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2010

Winter Garden is a mesmerizing and enchanting novel about survival, enduring love, family, and the choices that can forever haunt you.

With the death of the patriarch comes the further disintegration of an already fragile bond between a distant, secretive mother and her daughters who are as different as can be. With the loss of their father, Meredith and Nina Whitson find themselves no closer to their mother at a time when they should have found comfort in one another. Instead their mother retreat into her world of secrets and a haunting, unimaginable past.

Having made a deathbed promise to her father to have her mother tell her fairy tale in its entirety and to the end, Nina is determined to fulfill that promise -this against a guarded sister and unwilling mother. What she does not realize is how meaningful and life-changing the story will be to her family.

The fairy tale is anything but a simple tale, it is Meredith and Nina's only real connection to a mother they have never really gotten to know, having long-ago given up trying, much less understand. As the story is revealed, a dawning realization of who their mother really is, why she is the way she is, and an understanding of self come to light and thus, the three women begin a journey of self-identity.

At the heart of the story is three women connected by the bonds of family who deal with grief differently and must come to terms with it. Who must learn to live on. For Anya Whitson, it means facing the ghosts of her past without the strength of her husband and learning to forgive and love. For Meredith and Nina it is understanding who their mother is without the shield of their father no longer protecting them from her indifference to them, and realizing who they are and what they want in life.

The story alternate between the present and their mother's past, skillfully and meaningfully delving into historical facts and cultural traditions which bring relevance to the story. It is not just Anya's story which is compelling and heart-breaking, there is also Meredith and Nina's stories that reflect two women at crossroads in their lives. Meredith's marriage is slowly unravelling without love to support it or knowing how to get that love back. Nina's career no longer excites her, instead her exhaustion highlight her loneliness and longing to be loved but not daring to let herself be.

Like the butterfly piece that is passed down from Anya's mother to herself and later her own daughter, it represent the gradual evolution of the three women who had begun a journey as strangers but at the end discovers who they really are and truly become a family.
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08/28/2016 marked as: read

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