Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

This month's book club selection is Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. 

I loved this book, but before we talk about it there is something I need to tell you about how I read.  When I pick up a book, I become very involved with it.  The characters are real people to me.  The events are really happening.  I imagine myself in each character's shoes.  I feel what they feel.  Of course these feelings are multiplied if the story is based on historical fact.  Also, I am what some people might call "a big boober."  I'm a cryer.  It's something my husband just doesn't get: "But it's not real."  "But you've read that book/ seen that movie before.  You know what's going to happen."  To his credit, mostly he just shakes his head and smiles, tells me he loves me and kisses me on the top of my head. 

Last night I finished Winter Garden.  As soon as the kids were in bed, I crawled into my own bed determined to finish the book.  Thank goodness I was all alone in there- the blubbering was uncontrollable.  Winter Garden is about two grown sisters and their 80-something-year-old mother.  The sisters do not have a close relationship and the bond they have with their mother is, well, non-existent.  As their mother begins to finally share her history with her daughters, they all learn things about each other and about themselves that they had never known. 

I can't even begin to know what to tell you about this book.  It was wonderful and heart-rending and powerful and painful.  I loved it.  I wept.  I sobbed.  I may have even wailed a bit.  (Seriously- it was not pretty.)  My sister has a new book club and when she finished reading, here was her post on Facebook:  "Just finished my book club book...and an entire box of Kleenex."  I would love to tell you more about it, but I just can't.  Even though I finished the book last night, it is still haunting me. 

This morning I did a few Google searches about the Siege of Leningrad.  The photos are frightening, the stories tragic.  More than a million people died of sickness, starvation and cold.  I imagine the reason I know so little about this must have something to do with the fact that the Cold War strongly influenced our perspective on Russian history. 

This is a book I would heartily recommend.  I hope you will pick up a copy.  May I also suggest a fresh box of tissues?  Preferably the kind with lotion- you'll thank me later.  Once you read it, let me know.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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