My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Meredith and Nina are very different people, despite being sisters. Meredith is the dutiful daughter who looks after the needs of everyone else. Nina will be on a plane to a humanitarian hotspot around the globe to take her award winning photos at the drop of a hat. Both sisters are brought into close contact with each other over the health issues of their beloved father, finding that once again there is to be no comfort to be had from their cold mother who has apparently rejected her children all their lives. After the fathers death, the girls try to act upon his dying wishes, for them to look after their mother and to pester her into telling them the fairy tale of their youth – no easy task.
This is a beautifully written piece with a story inside a story. Both the story of the fractured family and the fairy tale told by the mother are compelling. We not only have the contemporary storyline, but a telling of the Siege of Leningrad, which was part of WW2 being the eastern front of the Germans that kept a people prisoner for two and a half years. The characters are finely drawn and although annoyingly perfect physically, have character flaws that give them a touch of humanity. There are several love stories within this novel that are not overplayed of dramatic for drama’s sake.
The ending of the story was a little too chocolate boxy for me but overall this was a really enjoyable read.