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Winter Birds

Winter Birds

4.5 8
by Jamie Langston Turner

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Plain and dutiful, Sophia Hess has lived most of her life without ever knowing genuine love. Her professor husband had married her for the convenience of having a typist for his scholarly papers. The discovery of a dark secret opens her eyes to the truth about her marriage and her husband.

Eventually nephew Patrick and his wife, Rachel, take Sophia into their


Plain and dutiful, Sophia Hess has lived most of her life without ever knowing genuine love. Her professor husband had married her for the convenience of having a typist for his scholarly papers. The discovery of a dark secret opens her eyes to the truth about her marriage and her husband.

Eventually nephew Patrick and his wife, Rachel, take Sophia into their home, and she observes from a careful distance their earnest faith and the simple gifts of kindness they generously bestow upon her and others-this in spite of an unthinkable tragedy they've suffered. Dare she unlock the door behind which she stalwartly conceals her broken heart?

An insightful and moving portrayal of the transforming power of love

Editorial Reviews

This book is easily one of my favorites of 2006. The beautiful writing full of wisdom, literary allusions and stylistic elegance give it the moodling possibilities of poetry. Its quiet but compelling plot, realistic characters and sly humor made me wish it were twice as long. It reminds me of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and, like that book, it’s one I’m planning to read again, this time with highlighter always at hand.
"Sophia Hess is one unique lady and the manner in which she selects her place of retirement gives the reader a definite insight into her personality. She is insightful, stubborn at times, and the good and bad memories of her marriage to her college professor husband and the life they lived together give the reader another wonderful overview of this woman. So much is unique about this colorful character and her journey through the life she lived when married and the life she has chosen for her last days. Wonderful characterizations and situations only add to the reader’s enjoyment."
Christian Retailing
"In Winter Birds, Christy Award-winner Turner skillfully weaves together Sophie’s bird-watching, her knowledge of Shakespeare, the Time magazine obituaries she ponders and the TV reruns in the background. This noteworthy work is one to be savored."
Publishers Weekly
With this fictional octogenarian's rich reflection on her disappointing life, Christy Award-winner Turner pens her best novel in years. Bitterness over her late husband and his secret addiction to pornography has colored Sophia Hess's view of everything she's trusted and held dear. Dangling the promise of leaving her money to whichever distant relative cares for her, "Aunt Sophie" takes up residence in the spare room belonging to her loquacious, pontificating nephew, Patrick, and his diffident wife, Rachel, in Greenville, Miss. They collect a ragtag group of acquaintances, including an ex-con and a severely disabled four-year-old who flit in and out of the story. Sophie, a former English teacher, passes her days mostly by reading obituaries, watching television and learning about the birds outside her window.

Turner brilliantly weaves together the threads of Shakespeare's plays, sitcoms, birds and their habits, and the deaths of celebrities gleaned from Time magazine's obituary section as she unfolds the story. As she did in Some Wildflower in My Heart, Turner shows how even the most awkward and imperfect love, care and attention can yield meaningful results. Readers may find the present tense narration mechanical at times, and the story begins slowly, but this helps form an impression of the protagonist and her dull marking of days. Genuine humor and well-crafted characters make this a memorable and inspiring novel. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Laura Hilton
Winter Birds is the first book I've read by this talented author. At first, I didn't think the book sounded so interesting, but once I started reading I fell in love with Sophia. Like most older individuals, she is fascinated by the obituary column in the newspaper, and her thoughts and actions remind me a lot of my own mother. I enjoyed reading about Sophia, Rachel, and Patrick, and connecting with them.

Written in first person, the reader is instantly in Sophia's point of view. There isn't much of a faith message in the beginning, but as the book progresses it begins to be more noticeable. It is not preachy. I loved Winter Birds and am looking forward to reading more by Ms.Turner. (Laura Hilton, faithwebbin.net)

Product Details

Baker Publishing Group
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What People are Saying About This

"Turner, who has taught literature herself for many years, writes with elegant precision and the leisurely pacing of the book perfectly captures the lengthened days of the aging. Understated and unsentimental, Winter Birds is a quietly memorable novel about quiet grace."--(Peter J. Leithart, Touchstone)

Meet the Author

JAMIE LANGSTON TURNER, a college professor for thirty-three years, has written extensively for a variety of periodicals. Her acclaimed novels have earned both the Angel and Christy awards. Currently a professor of creative writing and literature at Bob Jones University, Jamie has lived in the South all her life and currently resides with her husband in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit jamielangstonturner.com for more information.
Jamie Langston Turner, author of seven novels and winner of two Christy Awards, has been a teacher for more than forty years. Currently a professor of creative writing and poetry at Bob Jones University, she lives with her husband in Greenville, South Carolina. Visit www.jamielangstonturner.net

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Winter Birds 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Winter Birds keeps you captivated with a good story and depth of character. The plot moves with characters who find hope in the midst of great loss.
Deborah_K More than 1 year ago
Sophia is a elderly woman who is living in the home of her nephew Patrick and his wife Rachel. She has chosen them as the place where she will live until she dies. She then proceeds to tell us about here life and what goes on inside this household. She reveals that her marriage wasn't what she had expected it to be. Her stepchildren hated her from the beginning, her husband treated her as just a mere companion, and denied her of any little happiness she had hoped would come from her marriage that she did not experience in her childhood. Plus she also found a devastating secret about her husband that he had kept hidden throughout their entire marriage until his death. Living with Patrick and Rachel has allowed her to view this small family and their lives as a quiet observer. They have lost their two children and may not have the greatest marriage but since they are Christians they still find the strength to get through any hardships that come their way. This puzzles Sophia as she struggles to understand the meaning of her life and how not to take everyone for granted. This book was a very relaxing read for me. Have you ever seen the movie Junebug? This book reminded me of that movie, being down in the south where everything is just slow paced. You think it will be a long time before the story gets exciting, but before you know it you've already been drawn into this world. I felt that the characters were very real and the reader feels very connected to Sophia. Being still a young adult, it was fascinating for me to read the story through the eyes of an eighty year old. I never realize how really we treat the elderly, until I read about how Patrick treated his aunt IE talking to her loudly because he think she can't her or doing things because HE feels that it's best for her. I did like very much how Sophia changed throughout the course of the book as she starts to realize that she doesn't want to look forward to dying anymore. I also found the scene where she's caught eavesdropping by Rachel and to cover it up she pulls off the button from her dress on purpose very amusing. I love how all of Jamie Turner's books bring in characters from her other novels and while this story took place in a different setting from the others, we still have appearances from two memorable characters. This book is touching, hopeful, funny, sad, and manages draws you right into the story all at the same time. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, many times I found myself relating to the character of Sophia. I would wish that all would read this book and see that if we would come together and care for one another in times of need, our lives would be so much more richer. Read this book and contemplate the characters and their struggles, and see the hope that can be given and lived if we take this story to heart! Recommend to be read by all!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I, of little faith, innocently enough picked this off the 'browser' shelf at the library, and now need to PURCHASE a copy for my home library. The acerbic observations of the narrative voice, an old woman who's figured it all out at the end of her years, makes for a laugh-out-loud read. Very wry. Very right on. And I so sympathize with her view of men as hopelessly flawed creatures whose redeeming features she finally comes to appreciate'. It is too bad that this work has been pigeon-holed as 'Christian' literature, because it appeals to a much broader base than that --- to wit: us cynics who are not part of 'the faith.' While other reviewers seem to have experienced drag with the narrator's initial cynicism and lack of faith, redeemed only by the happy ending 'in which god's love vanquishes all', I tended to revel in what I saw as the realistic cynicism at the beginning, and felt just a little bit cheated by the overly idealized, happily-ever-after ending. Still, it is a marvelously perceptive and exceptionally well-crafted work. Why it bears no prize, I know not . . . . perhaps its CBA affiliation???? Perhaps because it's essentially a book about women's perspective??? This book deserves MAJOR praise!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Retired teacher widow Sophia Hess found her late husband¿s legacy quite a shocker as learns her spouse the professor had a deep penchant for pornography. The collection is quite a stunner, but also serves as a catalyst to look back on her life of never being loved and explains why they remained childless. She now realizes he only wed her because he needed an easy to control office assistant. Not wanting to live alone and being wealthy, she offers her fortune to the family member that takes her into their home. In Greenville, Mississippi, nephew Patrick and his wife Rachel offer their home to Aunt Sophie. The octogenarian assumes they welcome her so they can get at her money. However, she wonders about the menagerie of visitors like the disabled child and though he is a bit pompous why Patrick and Rachel, hurt by personal tragedy, still deeply believe in the Lord while fully welcoming Sophie to do more than check the obituaries as they show her they care for one another and offer her the same affection. --- Action fans will want to pass on this deep character study that uses the story line as a device to enable readers to look closely at Sophia. Initially the plot seems depressing and sort of dull as the elderly woman reflects on her life especially marriage. The tale picks up a bit as the skeptical Sophia moves in with her nephew expecting an avarice relative conducting a death watch. However, instead she gets a somewhat optimist nurturing caretaking couple who want the best for her as they teach this old dog new tricks about love for each other and affectionately caring for another by welcoming her into their nest. Great use of the story line to provide a profound relationship drama as few writers can achieve. --- Harriet Klausner