This week’s review comes from a Christian fiction author from the Netherlands, Johanna Verweerd. The Winter Garden in its original Dutch version was published in 1995, with the English version following a year later. The book is set in the not-too-distant past, but the era is never specifically stated. Ika Boerma has always had a complicated relationship with her mother. As an adult, after a fifteen year estrangement from her family, Ika receives a letter from her sister that their mother is dying, and that if Ika wants to see her mother again to visit soon. In the intervening time Ika’s father has died and her sister has married and had two children, but Ika was absent from those events. However, when Ika goes home it’s as if nothing has changed. The story of Ika’s reconciliation with the mother she never connected with unfolds slowly between flashbacks to Ika’s childhood. Although this Christian fiction has plenty of references to Bible verses the faith that is portrayed may seem foreign to American readers. A translation to English hasn’t thinned Dutch culture present throughout the book, from the description of the places, to how the characters interact and talk with each other. This is an engrossing and emotional read, perfect for a warm drink on a dull winter day.
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