The Winter Guest – Pam Jenoff

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It’s not winter anymore, it’s officially spring in Australia. Yay! This book is wonderful and was probably my favourite winter read of 2019. A heartbreaking, and complex romance novel set in World War Two in German occupied Poland. Two sisters must learn what love and loyalty is in the face of extreme danger.

Helena and Ruth are caring for their siblings the best they can. With their father dead and mother in care, they must feed and protect their family against all that threatens them. They’ve always been a united force. Yet when Helena discovers a wounded Allied paratrooper, she chooses to hide Sam, risking the safety of her family. Loyalties are torn, and a betrayal is made that will impact all of their lives.

What I liked about this book?

This book was sent to me in July as a part of my Relove Print book subscription. I felt impressed at how well they had personally selected this book for me based on the preferences I’d provided them with. (If you want to see my full review of Relove Print check out my post Are Book Subscriptions Worth It?)

I thought the family dynamic in this book was really well done. The girls love for their siblings is sacrificial and deep. They do their best to provide and protect their family in the midst of the trauma of living during a brutal war.

Both sisters have strengths and weaknesses and I grew to really care about both Helena and Ruth. Family is supposed to be where you feel safest. The people in your family have the power to hurt you the most.

I enjoyed the overall story weaving that occurred in this book. As you begin the novel you start in the present day. There’s a bit of time jumping that occurs as an older character shares the story from their point of view.

Sometimes this can distract from what a book is trying to achieve, and you end up confused about the time and place you’re reading about. This wasn’t the case for The Winter Guest. Instead, the time hopping highlighted particular elements and characters from different perspectives.

The ending… *gasp* …If you’ve read this book, please tell me below so I can have someone to discuss this ending with, without spoiling it for everyone else! Well, yes. It was a bittersweet ending. That’s all I’ll say on the matter for now.

What I liked least about this book?

Hmm…

Overall I liked this book a lot. It did some great characterisation, the plot was well paced and the ending was really good.

I do have mixed feelings about the betrayal in the book that is mentioned in the blurb. Whilst it took me by surprise and wasn’t what I was expecting, I felt it was a bit cheap and undersold the intelligence of the characters. That being said, I think the conflict was necessary and gave the book great tension for its ending.

Recommendation

If you like reading historical romances, this book is worth checking out. The Winter Guest is about far more than just male-female romance.

It explores family love, loyalty and the price of both expertly. I found this a really good read and would highly recommend it for fans of the genre.

Content warning: The Winter Guest discusses the genocide of Jewish people in World War Two. It is therefore quite emotionally charged. Whilst this book isn’t too graphic in describing these events, you may wish to be aware of it going in.

Where can I get a copy?

*If you’ve decided to read this book (Yay! We can then discuss it!) you can pick up a copy from The Book Depository here.

Let’s Connect

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What’s your favourite historical fiction? Comment below and let me know.

You can find me on social media @stephhuddlestonwriting on Instagram, Facebook and now Twitter!

Hi! I'm Steph, a freelance writer for hire based in Australia. I'm an avid reader and love all things bookish! My blog is all about the written word.

2 thoughts on “The Winter Guest – Pam Jenoff

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