Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). Sometimes I have too many books to do a full-length review. At other times, like now, tennis elbow and a torn tendon makes too much writing difficult. As such, I’ve decided to devote longer reviews to Australian authors until such time as my injury clears.
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photo journalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life. It begins with a story that is unlike anything the sisters have heard before – a captivating, mysterious love story that spans sixty-five years and moves from frozen, war torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska. The vividly imagined tale brings these three women together in a way that none could have expected. Meredith and Nina will finally learn the secret of their mother’s past and uncover a truth so terrible it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they think they are.
While Firefly Lane and Fly Away (click to read my reviews of them) focus on friendships, Winter Garden digs deep into the complicated heart of mother-daughter relationships. In this case, it’s an ageing mother who is absent despite her presence – one who has built walls so high it’s impossible for her daughters to breach them. Sadly, her daughters go on to do similar things, shutting out or keeping at arm’s length the ones who love them the most, while trying to prove themselves in other ways. In the end it’s a story of redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation. Moving, and at times frustrating in the protagonists’ inability to reach each other, Winter Garden will appeal to those looking for a warm and fuzzy read – given that it’s winter here, it was a good choice for snuggling up with in front of the heater.
Available from good bookstores and Pan Macmillan (RRP $24.99). My copy was courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia.
Bookish treat: I enjoyed my book-ish favourite, popcorn, while reading this. My mum used to make it for me.