Debut Novel – “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah

I’ve had author Kristin Hannah’s books on my TBR list for a long time and opted to begin with her debut novel “Winter Garden” despite one kind reader’s caution that it is a “sad tale”. Well, I was warned and I didn’t listen. I’m sorry to admit that I have consigned it to the DNF file at the 45% mark. Here’s why:

As a bibliophile, I’m strictly a pleasure reader and enjoy several genres but what I’m ultimately looking for is to be immersed in the story. To get wrapped up in the characters and care about their outcomes. “Winter Garden” is kind of a family saga centered around two sisters who chose widely differing paths. When their father dies the sisters are reunited but strangely alienated and their mother, who has always been distant and aloof with them, is even more so. This isn’t just a sad tale. Watching a family fall apart piece by piece, is utterly depressing. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Agonizingly disastrous but you’re unable to turn away. You can only look on in horror. I found myself frequently stopping and looking for excuses not to pick it back up. And finally I quit on it at 45%. Four stars.*

*You might think it strange that I rated it four stars when I read less than half the book. However my rating is based on Kristin Hannah’s exposition and her masterful narrative. That I had little empathy for two of her characters is a reflection of my reactions and should not negatively affect the author’s work. I am not identifying the two characters so as to avoid a spoiler.

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