Hannah once again mines the emotional landscape between mothers, daughters and sisters that she does so well. She further stretches her range as a storyteller, weaving a heartbreaking World War II tale into a present-day family drama. Readers will be riveted as these women are finally able to connect.
Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be, sharing only their father's unconditional love and their Russian mother's complete lack of affection. When their father becomes ill, their cold mother offers little comfort.
As children the only moments of connection were when their mother occasionally told them a Russian fairy tale. As his last wish, their father gets the women to agree to follow the fairy tale to its end, beginning a journey into the past to war-torn Leningrad, as the sisters learn the harrowing story of their mother's life, and to Alaska, where they will finally learn the true ending to the story. In doing so, they become a real family for the first time. (ST. MARTIN'S, Feb., 400 pp., $25.99)