My rating: (5 / 5)
This is a ridiculously amazing novel.
Anya has two lovely daughters who are in the middle of living very different lives. Nina is a well-known photojournalist who travels the world and has barely enough time to occasionally make love to her gorgeous boyfriend, let alone set down roots anywhere. Meredith, by contrast, is firmly rooted right in her family’s apple orchard, where she’s taken over the business from her father, living on the land where he developed and grew his apples, married to her childhood sweetheart with two grown, college-age daughters. But when Anya’s husband dies, it tosses her into a maelstrom of emotion, into the hidden memories of a past she has done everything she can to shield, to barricade away from her present day life. But it becomes impossible to bear the weight of hiding so much any longer, under the persistent care and questioning of her daughters, and so, she begins to unravel her past.
I couldn’t put this book down. It is perhaps not the most well-styled book out there, but it is a phenomenal story, reaching back into history, into the days of pre-WWII Russia and the seige of Leningrad, through the German attacks and into the recovery after the war. It is tragic and horrifying, full of emotion and heartbreak, and it is life-affirming and beautiful, full of intimacy and love.
I adored this book. It made me cry. It made me laugh out loud a time or two. It made me appreciate how very, very blessed my life has been; even when tragedy has struck it has never been more than I could bear, never to the level that some families are devastated. It made me thankful. It made me randomly kiss my husband all over his face. It made me stay up until 4:30 in the morning to finish it 🙂