Winter Garden

This post is certainly not about my garden. It's a bit chilly here (It's down to 61 Fahrenheit in the house. I turned on the furnace!) but spring is still coming. The rhododendron is beautiful as are the daffodils and grape hyacinths. 

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Yes, there is a tiny autumn joy sedum trying to come up among the hyacinths. I'll need to get that transplanted otherwise, it will crowd  the other plants and I've plenty of sedum. 

But, the book! That's why you're here, right? 

Book Review

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  Lovely book. I stayed up all night to finish reading it. 

This story, located in the state of Washington at an apple orchard called Belye Nochi, is about the relationships between two adult daughters and their parents. I enjoyed Hannah's rendering of the two, very different, daughters: 

  • one married with two adult daughters of her own, living near and helping the father manage the apple orchard
  • the other a renowned photographer whom we meet in the jungles in Rwanda photographing the mutilated mountain gorilla left behind by poachers

A Russian Fairy Tale

The mother, a Russian war bride, is a seemingly indifferent woman who loves to sit on the bench in her garden in the winter. She likes a lot of solitude and she has been an emotionally distant mother to her daughters although her husband loves her dearly and is protective of her.

But, the mother does have a fairy tale that her daughters love to hear. A story of a peasant girl and a prince who live in a Snow Kingdom, an enchanted kingdom, but a Black Knight has come, like a virus, and wants to destroy it all. When the mother tells this fairy tale, her voice becomes different, more rich, more alive. 

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Family Relationships

I like the relationships that Hannah develops in this book. They are not easy relationships and she is deft in her detailing of how each sister relates to each parent, loving their father, remnants of yearning for their mother yet retaining their distance with her, and how each sister relates to one another. Both are strong-willed, each has adapted to the childhood that they have received from their parents, and they clash in the care of their father, of their mother.

The leading question that is asked on the back cover of the book is:

How can a woman know herself...if she doesn’t really know her mother?
— Kristin Hannah

We also learn more about the mother and about Russia during the reign of Stalin prior to and during World War II. 

The ending weaves the various strands of story together--the present, the mother's childhood, the fairy tale--and gives us a surprising twist.