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Winter Journey

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  1,534 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
Diane Armstrong's bestselling fictional debut.

A mother's silence, a village with a terrible secret, and an Australian woman who travels to Poland to uncover the truth ...

When forensic dentist Halina Shore arrives in Nowa Kalwaria to take part in a war crimes investigation, she finds herself at the centre of a bitter struggle in a community that has been divided by a grim
Paperback, 496 pages
Expected publication: January 24th 2017 by 4th Estate (first published February 22nd 2006)
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Finding the Rainbow by Rachel McGrathWith Angel's Wings by Stephanie A. CollinsThe Cinderella Princess by Melissa McCloneThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
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74th out of 190 books — 19 voters
Poland by James A. MichenerPan Wołodyjowski by Henryk SienkiewiczThe Teutonic Knights by Henryk SienkiewiczSchindler's List by Thomas KeneallyThe Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff
Historical Fiction: Poland
23rd out of 53 books — 35 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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☼♄Jülie 
Feb 27, 2016 ☼♄Jülie  rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
Recommended to ☼♄Jülie  by: Self

This book was brilliant on every level!

Gee I love historical fiction! And this book is a classic example of why.
Here we have a good dose of actual historical events seamlessly blended with a fictitious scenario that gives it such an authentic feel as to make it sound credible...even the incredible becomes plausible.
At the same time edifying us to the shocking realities that are woven within.

This is such an impressive construction of a story within a story.
Although much of it is quite confront
Halina Shore is a forensic dentist, whose mother emigrated with her from Poland to Australia after WWII. Apart from the fact that she was born in Poland in 1939, Halina knows little of her background as her mother refuses to talk about Halina's father or relatives. Now living in Sydney (around the late 1990s), Halina is invited to be part of a forensic team investigating the site of a Jewish massacre. Although the Poles want to believe that the Germans killed the Jews after the Russians left ...more
Apr 30, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as a book in 2006 and have now listened to it on audio, which I enjoyed more.
This is a powerful story about truth, justice and reconciliation, as well as coming-to-terms with an unpalatable past. Partly a detective story, partly an historical novel and partly a story about an older woman's 'coming-of-age', it's the story of Polish-born Halina Shore, a forensic dentist, who – discontented with an unsatisfactory affair with a married man, and rootless since her mother’s death - takes o
The premise of this novel of an Australian forensic dentist being invited to Poland to examine the remains of a massacre committed 60 years before. The dentist was born in Poland and brought to Australia as a girl by her mother. The timelines in the story were often unclear and the disadvantage of an audiobook is that the reader can't go back to recheck details. The story of working to uncover the truth behind the death of the entire Jewish population of a Polish village in 1941 is compelling. ...more
Amanda Markham
Feb 11, 2010 Amanda Markham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a moving and powerful book that will stay with you long after you've finished reading.

In July 1941, the inhabitants of the rural village of Novacalvaria, Poland, murdered their own Jewish population. Around 1000 of Novacalvaria’s Jews were herded into a large barn by the village’s non-Jewish populace and burned alive. Only two children escaped the brutal inferno brought upon them by their former friends, neighbours and villagers.

Sixty years later, forensic odontologist (dentist), Halina
Nov 27, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This journey of discovery could easily serve as a lesson for our contemporary situation. An illustration of how easily fear and hatred can cause humanity to do unspeakable things and also how others can open their hearts to great good. This is a book I could not put down. Layer upon layer peeled away to reveal the secret. Makes you search your own motives.
Diane Challenor
Abandoned! I abandoned this book because I couldn't cope with the sadness at the beginning. I listened to it last thing at night and just knew it wasn't for me. Man's inhumanity to man never ceases to appall me. I couldn't read The Book Thief either, for the same reason. My abandonment is not a reflection on the quality of the writing.
This historical novel tells an important story about how the Christian citizens of a Polish town, after the Russians leave and as the Germans arrive early in WWII burn and bury their Jewish neighbors. This is based on an event that actually occurred and the author did substantial research on the historical event and on forensic science used to identify the victims.

But, at least for this reader, the way the story was told was often offputting. First, there is the "strong woman" narrator having a
Sep 20, 2016 Vickie rated it really liked it
Another WWII book for me. This one had a different twist & I really liked it. This book is historical fiction. It's hard to imagine people really committing the atrocities in this book. Sad!
Jan 06, 2016 Kellitak rated it liked it
This was a difficult read for me. I picked this book up because it deals with World War II era, and I am very interested in this time period. The story takes place in current times, but the main character is piecing together events that took place in a small village in Poland during WWII. I am especially interested in WWII from a perspective other than Germany's. It was slow to get moving and I actually abandoned it for a while, but eventually came back to it. The story picked up about a third ...more
Vanessa Couchman
Feb 19, 2016 Vanessa Couchman rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
This book had potential: a Polish village has to come to terms with its past when a mass grave containing the remains of Jewish villagers killed in 1941 is exhumed. The main character, an Australian forensic dentist with Polish ancestry, finds herself drawn deeply and personally into the history.

The tensions raised in the village by the exhumation and the very disparate attitudes to Jewish people (both during World War II and in the present) are well conveyed. But in the end, I remained unconvi
This book certainly exceeded my expectations! I didn't quite know what to expect, I just picked it up at the local library, having read something about Australia, Poland and WWII on the back cover.

I found myself captivated by the story - inspired by a true event - almost immediately. It starts off in Sydney but most of the story actually takes place in Poland, in a small village where there is to be an excavation of a mass grave. Armstrong manages to weave modern forensic science beautifully int
Kathleen Hagen
Winter Journey, by Diane Armstrong, narrated by Deidre Rubinstein, produced by Bolinda Audio, downloaded from

This is a novel based in part on a true incident in Poland in 1941, where the town citizens killed their Jewish neighbors and tried to blame it on the Germans. In the novel, a dental ferensics expert, now living in Australia but previously from Poland, comes to Poland to aid in an exhumation of Jews who were burned to death in a barn where they were trapped. The Polish citize
Jun 14, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audio book version. I almost gave this 5 stars. It was pretty amazing in parts. I am an avid reader of historical fiction,and this did not disappoint. Although a work of fiction, it was fact-based. Not for the faint of heart, as it told about a period in 1941 in Poland when a village of Jews were herded into a barn and the barn set on fire. Two people escaped, and this is the story of the woman who would go there 50 years later as a forensic odontologist to excavate the site. Very emotional, ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Coincidently I went to the Holocaust Museum while reading it and I felt the story and events taking place in Poland even more deeply because of this. Every time I read one of these books I wonder what I would have done in those times. Such horror and depravity; yet the beauty and redemption of a few make it possible to bear.
Rita Kelley
May 10, 2016 Rita Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winter Journey

Although this is a novel, the story was based on truth an actual incident that happened in Poland in 1941. How easy it is to turn someone's mind against their neighbor. Hitler accomplished this and millions of Jews died as a result. A complex but very good read..
Probably worth three and a half. There were some parts of this books that were excellent and fascinating, but other parts felt contrived and/or romanticised. I did enjoy the writing so am looking forward to reading more of her work.
MaryAnn D Roddy
Jan 02, 2016 MaryAnn D Roddy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was very moved by this book which is not a common occurrence for me. The interweaving of history was well done. The science sprinkled in was enjoyable.
Jan 16, 2016 Conchita rated it it was amazing
Hard me to get into but the finish made up for it. I just hate to give up on a book so I kept going & enjoyed most of the book
Jan 15, 2015 Gaysel rated it really liked it
Audible version. A haunting story, fiction but very real as some events based on fact. A little drawn out in parts but still very good and the reader was excellent.
Jul 21, 2016 Tif rated it really liked it
An eye opening story of hate and forgiveness.
Aug 13, 2016 Janine rated it really liked it
A fascinating story but very sad.
Larry Bassett
Oct 26, 2016 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
This is a relatively long and detailed book that covers a lot of territory both in history and in personal development. In 1941 in a small village in Poland the catholic residents murdered their Jewish neighbors. The local history tried to blame it on the Nazis. But the people who live there at the time knew what had really happened. 50 years later a Polish organization came to town to dig up the mass grave and determine the truth. One of the people who came to participate was a woman from ...more
Nov 15, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
Halina Shore is a forensic odontologist (studies the teeth of the dead) who is asked to go to Poland to study the bodies found in a mass grave from WWII. It is believed that the Russians came in and slaughtered a large number of people from the community of Nowa Kalwaria. While people can not be identified the researchers would like to know how many people are buried at the sight.

Little does Halina know that her heart will be torn from her chest several times as she experiences true love, loss a
Nov 25, 2016 Patricia rated it really liked it
Genealogy has been my hobby for years and unrevealing family secrets can be fun and frustrating when new information is found from census records, birth/death/marriage certificates, DNA results challenging long held "facts". When forensic dentist Halina Shore travels from Australia to her native Poland to study a World War II era mass grave she encounters both local opposition to the project and personal revelations about her past.

Well researched with interesting characters based on real life pe
Nov 17, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it
In "Winter Journey" author Diane Armstrong writes a historically based novel telling the story of an Australian pathologist who travels to her original birthplace, a small village in Poland, to try and uncover the truth surrounding the 1941 mass killing of the village's entire Jewish population. Full of emotional encounters, lies and deceit and a 50 year old cover up, the story gradually lays bare the truth behind this gruesome WWII atrocity. Worth reading but prepare yourself for a look back at ...more
Davis Stamford
Nov 09, 2016 Davis Stamford rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this book five stars, but there was something missing. I've read three really great books recently:
Exile on Bridge Street
Walk Into Silence
And Winter Journey.
Jeez, the books being put out these days are top quality.
Highly recommend all three.
Grim journeys that lead characters into self-discovery.

Nov 25, 2016 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good

The main focus of this book is on WWII era atrocities in Poland, even though the main character is in modern times. Interesting premise, some unexpected twists that make it even better. One completely unnecessary graphic sex scene (so incongruent with the rest of the book that I really have no idea why it's in there).

It does have some lines that are definitely food for thought. This one was well worth the time spent reading it.
Nov 10, 2016 Rebecca rated it liked it
Ok story of a forensic dentist exhuming a mass grave in Poland where Jews were killed in a barn fire in WWII. It was promising in the beginning but I ended up not being crazy about it. The big twist was pretty predictable but I did like the piecing together of the story of the fire and its preceding events.
Richard Howiler
Nov 23, 2016 Richard Howiler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It Take s a While

Once the book starts to tie up the loose ends, it moves right along. It is horrific to know that events like these actually took place. It is extremely disturbing how low mankind can go. This book is not a quick but one to be mulled over and absorbed.
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Goodreads Librari...: add ebook/Nook version 3 15 Aug 10, 2016 05:37AM  
Play Book Tag: Winter Journey - Diane Armstrong (★★★½) 1 5 Apr 28, 2016 04:37PM  
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Diane was born in Poland and arrived in Australia in 1948.

At the age of seven she decided to become a writer. Her first article, about teaching at a Blackboard Jungle school in London, was published in The Australian Women's Weekly in 1965. Diane subsequently became a freelance journalist, and over three thousand of her investigative articles, personal experience stories, profiles and travel stori
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“Poland 1941 The madness began around the time of the summer solstice, as soon as the Bolshevik trucks roared away behind clouds of dust. At first everyone went crazy with joy. Barefoot children chased the departing trucks, poking out their tongues, yelling, and mimicking Cossack dances until they flopped down in the dirt. After the suspicion and fear of the past two years, the arrests and accusations and deportations, everyone was smiling once more. Even grumpy old Antos, who had sworn never to play his harmonica again, struck up a mazurka and hopped around on his wooden leg. It seemed to Piotr Marczewski as though a sorcerer’s spell had been lifted and his dead village had come to life. And” 1 likes
“trickled the hot water over her neck and shoulders” 0 likes
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