St. Martin’s, Feb 2 2010, $25.99
Evan rescued Russian Anya from a German prison camp. They married, moved to the American Pacific Northwest after the war, and she spent her life grateful to him. She gave him two daughters that she failed to connect with as Evan meant everything to her. On the other hand Evan loved Meredith and Nina.
While Nina traveled the world as a photojournalist, older sister Meredith stayed home to work on her family’s apple orchard. When Meredith turned forty, her dying father asked her to take care of her aging mother after he is gone. She wants to say no but agrees. Nina comes home to help her sibling with their cold mother, whose mind is fading. Over vodka, mom tells the truth about losing everyone in her family during the Nazi siege of Leningrad and Stalin’s post war purges.
This is a fascinating tale of a mother and her two daughters coming together as adults like they never did when the younger generations was kids. Anya owns the tale as she describes the horrific hardships during WWII especially the 900 day sege and Stalin’s deadly actions afterward. Her saga makes the issues of her daughters seem petty. Readers will empathize with Anya as she lost so much of her heart and soul that what was left she could only give to her savior Evan. Although the ending feels totally out of place with its “perfection” considering the personalities of the three women, fans will enjoy the trek to the climax especially when Anya as the prime guide tells her shocking horrendous story.