“Winter Garden” has been around for a few years now, and yet for some reason I’d never found the time to dive into it until this week. If you know Kristin Hannah’s work, then I bet you are nodding smugly to yourself right now. You already know the magic this woman creates, and you’re wondering why I waited so long. If you have never read anything by her, now is the time to start. My genre of choice is usually historical fiction, so when I started in on this book and discovered that approximately the first two-thirds of it are set in present day, I was confused. Hadn’t this been sold to me as historical? Regardless, Ms Hannah’s delicious, present day prose pulled me along – with no argument from me. The complicated, intertwined stories of three women, a mother and two daughters, fascinated me, as did the obvious promise of unearthing a long-buried secret. Looking back, that in itself should have set my concerns to rest, because secrets come from the past. And the past is history. And so it was that I reached the pinnacle of this part of the story only to be plunged into an unthinkable, heartbreaking story from decades before, during the Siege of Leningrad. In it, one woman must keep her family alive through that world’s numbing reality of unimaginably brutal cold and starvation. With dogged determination, she leads her loved ones through the darkness through the telling of her own story, then relies on it again decades later, to save herself. “The Winter Garden” is an absolute masterpiece. I should have read it long ago.
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