The basics: Sisters Nina, an award-winning photojournalist, and Meredith, who stayed home to take over the family's orchard, are quite different. They've both struggled with their mother's emotional distance throughout their lives and relished their father's affection.
My thoughts: If not for my book club, I would likely not have made time to read Winter Garden. I foolishly dismissed it as fluffy, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how emotionally affecting this novel is. It is safe to say I first identified more with Nina, the roaming photojournalist who doesn't want to settle down, than with Meredith, who has a struggling marriage and two daughters in college. Nina describes her "yearning to see everything, no matter how terrible, to know everything." Despite my initial preference for one sister, I always enjoyed Meredith's story, even as I didn't identify with it.
Early on, I was struck with Hannah's writing:
"Nowhere was the quiet more noticeable than in Meredith Whitson’s own house. At twelve, she had already discovered the empty spaces that gathered between people. She longed for her family to be like those she saw on television, where everything looked perfect and everyone got along. No one, not even her beloved father, understood how alone she often felt within these four walls, how invisible."She uses descriptions quite well, and she involves emotion beautifully. I was captivated with the story of this family.With the extended holiday weekend, I had the luxury of reading the last 300 pages in a single sitting on my couch. I can't wait to discuss this novel with my book club tonight.
Favorite passage: "And maybe that was how it was supposed to be, how life unfolded when you lived it long enough. Joy and sadness were part of the package; the trick, perhaps, was to let yourself feel all of it, but to hold on to the joy just a little more tightly because you never knew when a strong heart could just give out."
The verdict: I loved this novel. The characters came alive for me, and I adored the mix of modern day with historical flashbacks. It's a beautiful story of a family, and it's one I will treasure for years to come.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 394 pages
Publication date: February 2, 2010 (it's in paperback now)
Source: I bought it for my Kindle
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Winter Garden from Amazon in print or for the Kindle.
As an affiliate, I receive a very, very small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!