So far I’ve really enjoyed this book. There’s not a lot of drama in it but there is a lot of emotion, both spoken and unspoken. Kristin Hannah paints a picture of a family desperately trying to find their way through the tragedy of the death of their father while at the same time deal with the tragedy of a crumbling family unit. Each person is struggling in their own way and I have wondered throughout the first half of this book, how they will finally find a way to be there for each other. It is plain to see that the fairy tale and the winter garden are the common ground but it seems as if Meredith, Nina and their mother are not quite ready to accept that.The Whitson women are all so stubborn and strong willed that they refuse to let themselves feel anything but anger. But eventually a person has to break to heal.
Questions by The Many Thoughts of A Reader
1. How do you think the peasant and prince fairy tale ends? If you finished, what were your guesses?
I’m not sure how it will end but I have a strong feeling that the story is parallel to Anya’s own life in some way and that will be Meredith and Nina’s key to understanding their mother.
2. Will Nina stay or go?
I believe that Nina will stay. She has something to prove to Meredith and her stubbornness will keep her around.
3.What do you think Mere and Jeff need to do to save their relationship? Is it worth saving?
Jeff wants to feel that his wife needs him and until Meredith can share her burdens with him and allow him to be there for her and comfort her, it won’t be able to work. If Mere can let her guard down and admit to Jeff that she can’t always do it all alone, then I think they can save their marriage. They both still love each other so yes, it’s worth saving.
4. Meredith and Nina are both reluctant to let the men in their lives help them through a difficult time, yet both are suffering from the grief caused by the death of their father. Do you think this is something they’ve inherited from their mother? In what other ways are they similar to their mother? Do you think it’s impossible to avoid becoming like the people who raised you?
They were raised by a strong willed woman. The only person their mother let in was her husband which is why I find it odd that the girls can’t find comfort in their own men. Their father was the only person who could comfort their mother and get through to her so it seems as if Meredith and Nina would be more likely to turn to their significant others for support and shut everyone else as, just as their mother has done.
5. This novel explores a complicated and strained relationship between two sisters. Do you think Meredith is justified in being so angry with Nina? In what ways are the sisters different and in what ways are they alike?
Meredith and Nina’s frustration toward each other stems from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Each woman copes with things in their own way and neither is very tolerant of the other. There is a sense that Meredith envies Nina’s free lifestyle because Meredith has been stuck in one place her whole life. Nina, on the other hand, envies Meredith’s ability to ‘handle everything.’ They need to recognize each others strengths and see that they both have something good to bring to the table.