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Winter Garden
Winter Garden
Author: Kristin Hannah
Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn't know her mother?  — Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father fal...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780312663155
ISBN-10: 0312663153
Publication Date: 1/4/2011
Pages: 400
Rating:
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 217

4.2 stars, based on 217 ratings
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Winter Garden on
Helpful Score: 9
A well-researched and gripping tale of family love and the lack thereof. The story of a woman and her two daughters, who have suffered all of their lives because of their mother's coldness and apparent lack of love for them. When their very loving father dies, his last wish is for his wife of 50 years, Anya, who originally came from Russia, to tell them the "real" story of the fairy tale she shared with them when they were children. The daughters are unwilling at first to interact with their mother, but eventually, they begin to listen to her story, which is the true story of her past.
The characters started out somewhat flat, and especially repetitive in their actions, which made it a bit difficult to get into the story at first. But soon, the "fairy tale" retold by Anya is so gripping, it's hard to put down.
This is a book that requires an entire box of tissues to get through, but it was a memorable story. I found it evokes "Away" by Amy Bloom. There are some similarities to the character's actions in both.
reviewed Winter Garden on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Having just finished this book, I'm still reeling a bit at the impact the story had on me. I'm afraid that no words I can conjure can do this story justice.

As another reviewer said, it's the story of two adult daughters getting to know their emotionally distant mother after the death of their father. To say more than that would divulge too much of the story, and the reader deserves to experience that themselves.

Suffice it to say it's a story within a story within a story. There are many depths to it, written beautifully.... Some of it glorious and some absolutely tragic. It's a story of the suffering of the body and the triumph of the soul and there's a message in it for all of us.

I HIGHLY recommend this read.
reviewed Winter Garden on + 175 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
4.0 out of 5 stars "How can a woman know herself, if she doesn't really know her mother?", May 5, 2011

This was a very interesting and emotionally involving story that moved from a present day setting backward in time to Leningrad, Russia, during the siege of that city during WW II.

Middle aged sisters Meredith and Nina have had a very unhappy and unsatisfying relationship with their cold and reserved Russian mother, Anya. They both have spent years trying to reach her and to earn her love, but neither has been able to breech the barrier that has kept her estranged from them. They know nothing about her past, which seems to limit them in their own ability to fully live their lives and to develop good relationships with those they care about. Meredith is the super obsessive older sister who stayed behind to help her parents run their orchard; she uses chores and activities to avoid thinking about why she has never done what she wanted. Nina left the family behind to become a globetrotting photojournalist with no permanent ties and no need to settle down anywhere with anyone. The girls reunite at the family home when their beloved father, Evan, dies and leaves them devastated and alone with the stranger who is their mother.

Through a series of stories told to the girls by their mother -- at first in fairy-tale fashion -- Meredith and Nina discover that their mother has a past that she has tried to escape by never speaking of it. She tells of the horrors of living and trying to survive in war-torn Leningrad during World War II and the subsequent sacrifices she had to make in order to live. The girls finally find out who their mother is and why she is the way she is.

This is a very touching but horrible story that will keep the reader turning the pages until the stunning revelation at the end. This is a book that does more than entertain - it will make the reader think and feel and want to go hug their loved ones. A book like this can change and affect a reader long after the last words have been read. I recommend it.
Lavendergrey avatar reviewed Winter Garden on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I enjoyed this book, however there was a large section which seemed very redundant while following the main character through her struggles and daily life. There was also a section that I thought was dragged out and gave more details than was necessary. Almost like the author deliberately did her best to put as many words in there as possible. I found myself skipping over pages once I got the gist of the content, since I felt I had already read it before. I guess about 1/4 of the book could have been edited out, and still it would have been a complete story. Otherwise, it was a satisfying read, with a very good and surprising ending. I really felt that the last 1/4 of the book was great, probably worth trudging through all the redundancy.
reviewed Winter Garden on + 175 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
4.0 out of 5 stars "How can a woman know herself, if she doesn't really know her mother?", May 5, 2011

This was a very interesting and emotionally involving story that moved from a present day setting backward in time to Leningrad, Russia, during the siege of that city during WW II.

Middle aged sisters Meredith and Nina have had a very unhappy and unsatisfying relationship with their cold and reserved Russian mother, Anya. They both have spent years trying to reach her and to earn her love, but neither has been able to breech the barrier that has kept her estranged from them. They know nothing about her past, which seems to limit them in their own ability to fully live their lives and to develop good relationships with those they care about. Meredith is the super obsessive older sister who stayed behind to help her parents run their orchard; she uses chores and activities to avoid thinking about why she has never done what she wanted. Nina left the family behind to become a globetrotting photojournalist with no permanent ties and no need to settle down anywhere with anyone. The girls reunite at the family home when their beloved father, Evan, dies and leaves them devastated and alone with the stranger who is their mother.

Through a series of stories told to the girls by their mother -- at first in fairy-tale fashion -- Meredith and Nina discover that their mother has a past that she has tried to escape by never speaking of it. She tells of the horrors of living and trying to survive in war-torn Leningrad during World War II and the subsequent sacrifices she had to make in order to live. The girls finally find out who their mother is and why she is the way she is.

This is a very touching but horrible story that will keep the reader turning the pages until the stunning revelation at the end. This is a book that does more than entertain - it will make the reader think and feel and want to go hug their loved ones. A book like this can change and affect a reader long after the last words have been read. I recommend it.
Read All 71 Book Reviews of "Winter Garden"

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reviewed Winter Garden on + 5 more book reviews
Thoroughly enjoyed the mixture of a good story and a little history mixed in.
junie avatar reviewed Winter Garden on + 627 more book reviews
I was hardly able to breathe when Anya told the story of her life to her two daughters after their beloved father died. It was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same rime. Be sure to have tissues nearby.
reviewed Winter Garden on + 48 more book reviews
Great book! The story shifts from present day to Anya's fairy tale, back and forth. The fairy tale is riveting as is most of the book. So much more than my initial impression of a flawed mother-daughter(s) relationship.
froglet avatar reviewed Winter Garden on + 32 more book reviews
This book has a slow start (in fact I almost gave up on it) but once you get into it you will be hooked. It has an emotional impact that I did not expect. I had never heard some of the information that was given in the book. The ending is fantastic and you won't be disappointed if you read it. I won't give any more information as I think other reviewers might have said too much already. READ IT
reviewed Winter Garden on
This book is one of my all time favorite books. It's completely moving, emotional, and stirs up so many feelings. It's is a must read.
reviewed Winter Garden on + 17 more book reviews
Beautiful heart rending story of a mothers love and loss. A story within a story spaning 70 years detailing a young mother and how she deals with heart breaking loss.

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