Winter Garden may start off a little slow, but, somewhere in the middle, it really takes off. I was listening to it on a Playaway and I did not want to take the little ear buds out of my ears. By the end of the book I was totally mesmerized not only by the story but by the beautifully way it was read.
Anya Wilson was a difficult person to get to know. Even her own two grown daughters Meredith and Nina did not have a clue as to what made their mother tick. She had always been very cold to the girls, showing them little attention or affection. This she reserved for their father. As hard as the girls tried to gain their mother’s love, it always ended with disappointment. One Christmas, Meredith decided to entertain her parents by acting out the Russian fairy tale her mother often told them, but her mother’s reaction was far different than she had expected. Anya Wilson was furious and at that moment Meredith gave up on ever pleasing her mother.
Nina and Meredith had grown apart over the years. Nina, a well-known photographer was always on the go, traveling to war zones around the world capturing the news with her photos. She was a free spirit and hooked up from time to time with her boyfriend who wanted nothing more than a committment of some kind from her. Meredith who ran the family apple orchard was married to a wonderful man who she was starting to take for granted and had two daughters of her own who no longer lived at home.
When Meredith and Nina’s father, whom they loved very much suffered a heart attack the girls were devastated. They could not imagine life without him. On his dying bed, their father asked his daughters to get to know their mother and to make her tell them the entire fairy tale about the peasant girl and the prince. Meredith was cynical and saw no point in pursuing the subject, but after finding an old letter addressed to their mother from a Russian professor in Alaska, even she was curious. So when Nina announced that she had bought tickets for the three of them to go on a cruise to Alaska, Meredith surprised everyone, including herself and said yes.
On their excursion, the girls began to realize that the fairy tale of the peasant girl and the prince was far more significant than they had ever imagined. Throughout the book, when Susan Ericksen, the narrator would recite the Russian Fairy tale, a love story which took place during the Invasion of Leningrad, I found myself totally spell-bound. Ericksen has recorded over 90 books, and has performed on stage and television. Listening to her was a sheer delight and although the end of the story may be just a little too perfect, I would not have wanted it to end any differently. If you are new to the audio experience, Winter Garden would be a good place to begin!