Winter Garden was the FLICKS Book and Movie Club selection for December. Meredith and Nina Whitson have grown up with a cold and distant mother, Anya, and a loving father, Evan. When their father is dying, he makes the girls promise to ask their mother for her full story. Anya used to tell her daughters a fairy tale when they were children, but she never finished it. As the girls struggle with their lives and getting to know their mother for the first time, they learn more and more about the fairy tale. They soon learn that it is not a fairy tale, but a tale of vast hardship during Russia in the depression and World War II. The story goes back and forth between the two time frames until the final conclusion.
I enjoyed this book, but I must admit that I was much more intrigued with the Russian story from the past then with the contemporary story. The contemporary story wanted me to feel for Meredith and her marriage problems, but I never felt like I got to know her husband enough to care. Their marriage problems, frankly, annoyed me. The ending was also disappointing to me. It seemed too much of a coincidence and also left out poor Evan. One member of the book club said that the Russian story would have stood alone as an excellent short story or novella and I agree.
Overall, Winter Garden had excellent historical fiction sections and a middling contemporary story. It was okay, but not my favorite Kristin Hannah novel.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library