Author: Belinda Alexandra
Narrator: Deirdre Rubenstein
Published: 2015 Bolinda Publishing / Gallery Books
Length: 17 hours 48 minutes / ARC E-copy 480 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley
From internationally bestselling author Belinda Alexandra comes a sweeping, emotional journey that “depicts vividly the powerful lifelong bond between mothers and daughters” (Paullina Simons, author of The Bronze Horseman).
In a district of the city of Harbin, a haven for White Russian families since Russia’s Communist Revolution, Alina Kozlova must make a heartbreaking decision if her only child, Anya, is to survive the final days of World War II.
White Gardenia sweeps across cultures and continents, from the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai to the austerity of Cold War Soviet Russia in the 1960s, from a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean to a new life in post-war Australia. Both mother and daughter must make sacrifices, but is the price too high? Most importantly of all, will they ever find each other again?
Rich in historical detail and reminiscent of stories by Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley, White Gardenia is a compelling and beautifully written tale about yearning, longing, and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child.
My thoughts: I was drawn to this book based on the beautiful cover, though the description also had me intrigued. Once I started it, I was hooked and found myself completely wrapped up in the story, often losing track of time. Of course, comparing it books similar to those of Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley - two of my favorite authors - didn't hurt!
I love reading/listening to how other cultures dealt with life both during and after the wars and I felt that Belinda Alexandra really showed us this with Alina and Anya's stories. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming as we see the choices that mother and daughter must make throughout their lives, yet at the same time we also have the opportunity to see some of the cultural aspects of their lives as they cross the borders of Russia, China and Australia.
I immediately fell in love with Anya. She was a survivor, forced to be strong at a young age. Her courage and perseverance served her well throughout her life. She does seem to have luck on her side - sometimes to her benefit and sometimes not.
As is usually the case when I read historical fiction, I am left wanting more...I now want to read more about the lives of those people living during this time period. But, I also want to read more from this author...Belinda Alexandra has crafted such a wonderful story that captivated me from beginning to end. I can't wait to pick up more of her books!
Audio thoughts: This is this first time I've listened to Deirdre Rubenstein narrate and I really enjoyed listening to her. I thought she did a great job with the voices and the different accents - American, Russian and Austrialian. Her intonation and pacing was great and I will definitely be checking out what else she has narrated.