Winter Garden
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Winter Garden

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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  43,131 ratings  ·  6,092 reviews
From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

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 oth...more
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published February 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Gloria Bernal
Be patient during the first half, it gets very good and emotional the second half. This is written in the past and present tense, which is a common scenario in many novels, but one that I enjoy. It's like reading two different novels.

What starts as a dysfunctional domestic situation between 2 sisters (American born) and their Russian-born mother ends up being so much more. Grief and a deathbed promise brings these unhappy women reluctantly together, and what seemed like a familial dysfunction be...more
Janelle
This is one of those books that reminds me how much I truly love historical fiction!

Anya Whitson is a Russian immigrant who moves to the United States after marrying her American husband. Anya is very hard woman who shows no love to her two daughters, Meredith and Nina, throughout their lives. Nina is an unsettled world traveling photographer and Meredith is a workaholic wife and mother who remains home to run the family orchard and never does anything for herself, it's always for others.

When Ev...more
Karen
Kristin Hannah's books have been recommended to me by a lot of friends, and I love the cover arts! (Who said we can't judge a book by a cover?) Unfortunately, I read The Night Road as my first book, and did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed works by other similar authors, namely, Picoult and Chamberlain.

However, at the persuasion of more friends, I decided to give her another chance, so I chose Winter Garden as my fluff read at the end of last year to balance the stress. I was so wrong.

The story...more
Ns
Winter Garden is a mesmerizing and enchanting novel about survival, enduring love, family, and the choices that can forever haunt you.

With the death of the patriarch comes the further disintegration of an already fragile bond between a distant, secretive mother and her daughters who are as different as can be. With the loss of their father, Meredith and Nina Whitson find themselves no closer to their mother at a time when they should have found comfort in one another. Instead their mother retre...more
Ellen Black
My daughter recommended Kristin Hannah's book, Winter Garden, to me. As my daughter said, "Mom, I don't think you would have liked Kristin's other books, because they're light reading for housewives. But I think you might like this book, because it's complex and has a historical bent to it."

So, I decided to read Winter Garden, and I'm very glad that I did. The story tells of two sisters, who lead very disparate lives, but are forced to deal with each other and their mother, who had always been v...more
Sarah
Not my usual type of read, but I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway and started on it right away. To be honest, I almost put it down at the beginning because I didn't like many of the characters, especially Meredith who pretty much turned me off instantly. Though I did eventually find myself caught up in Meredith and Jeff's story, the floundering relationship between two people who were childhood sweethearts - could their cold marriage turn warm again? But at the heart of the book...more
Brooke
I have just turned the last page,cleared my throat from holding back tears, and set this beautiful novel on my night stand. Let my review begin...

At the beginning I thought some of the dialogue was cheesy, but I could see a story developing. I didn't know until about half way through what an amazing, haunting, mesmerizing story awaited. The way Hannah wrote Vera's story was so vivid I felt I played the character of Vera's shadow and felt every emotion and saw the world through her eyes.

It was i...more
Irene
I may be unfairly harsh on this book because it is not my preferred reading. This is a recycled story. A woman endures overwhelming trauma as a young adult and emotionally shuts down in order to survive. But, the pain carried in secret, crushes her relationship with daughters. It is only when the adult daughter can learn the mother’s story that empathy can grow and affection can flow between the generations. This is The Bone Setter’s Daughter with the substitution of Russia for China. Only, this...more
Carol
Just finished this stinker and I have a headache from rolling my eyes. It is disappointingly formulaic and borrows heavily from "Sophie's Choice", an infinitely superior novel. The writing is pedestrian. The characters are cardboard cut outs and insufferable to boot. I hate novels in which all the characters have to be beautiful. We are told over and over and over about the mother's "astonishing eyes" and the eldest daughter's "curvy hips", big eyes and "Julia Robert's type mouth". The younger d...more
M
BLECH.
My sister got my hopes up, oddly, when she said this was chick lit disguised as intellectual - but I couldn't even find the disguise!
This book fell into the category of those home spin wonders of Eileen Gouge and other women who either watch too much of the wrong TV or read the wrong books or something. This had all the things I could hate about a book - writing like, - she worked hard to be the mother her mother wasn't. And she succeeded. She was best friends with her daughters.
Or, bette...more
W
Evan Whitson has always been the one to hold his family together. Upon his deathbed, he makes his wife, Anya, promise to tell their grown daughters, Meredith and Nina, the rest of a Russian fairy tale she once had started telling them when they were children, a request which befuddles them and turns her -- normally cold and distant from them anyways -- even more on the defense. With their lives a series of one mess after another, the daughters begin to look for answers to their mother's apathy,...more
jen
I cried buckets reading this story. The mother's story is revealed and is heart wrenching. I was disappointed by the ending because it seemed too much like a fairy tale. I highly recommend the book anyway. It gets 5 stars because I cried so much. I even woke the baby one night while I was sobbing. I would give it 4 stars for the writing style and the disappointing schmaltz at the end.
Almeta
This book was actually abandoned in our apartment complex library. (Something that is done by the residents, once they are finished with a book and wish to pass it on.) I seriously doubt that I would have made a decision to read it otherwise. It is quite a departure from my chosen reading genres.

And c'mon, its cover was just crying to fit a Winter challenge somewhere!

Still it was a very good book, and I am glad that I decided to read it. Just reminds me that I need to stretch my legs occasiona...more
Mandy Jo
This week’s headline? mom and daughters

Why this book? recommended by mom

Which book format? kindle enhanced version

Primary reading environment? vacation with mom

Any preconceived notions? high-strung, emotional

Identify most with? urge to run

Three little words? “Mom turned slowly”

Goes well with? meal at Veselka

Recommend this to? boyfriend (for recipes)

Two weeks ago, I sent my mom a copy of an application essay, and her response was enthusiastically supportive, something along the lines of "Why do y...more
Cheryl
If I could, I would give the first half of this book 1 star, from about the middle until the final chapter 5 stars, and the final chapter 3 stars - - - so I guess that, all in all, the 3 star rating is probably the most accurate.

This is the second Kristin Hannah book I have read where I have actively DISLIKED the main characters throughout the first half of the book (the other was "True Colors"). Nina and Meredith are the daughters, Anya is the mother - - -and as someone said in an earlier revi...more
Julie
I was saddened to read some of the reviews calling this story trash. I think having read The Bronze Horseman series about this very tragic time in Russia's history gave me a better understanding and appreciation of what the mother went through, how it haunted her her entire life and made her so hardened and cold and how that affected her daughters and their lives. I loved the fairytale element that was woven throughout and the journey of all of the characters finding themselves and each other. I...more
Tracy
Nov 28, 2012 Tracy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: bocd
More like 2.5 stars. I listened to this on CD. The first half gets too bogged down in mundane details. There are too many chapters when we are told that Meredith goes for a run, Meredith sits on the porch with her coffee, Meredith feeds the dogs, Meredith treats her husband coldly, Meredith is frustrated and hurt by her mother. Yes, we get the point already. Meredith's life is mundane and not what she dreamed it would be. Get on with the story!

The story within the story, the so-called Fairy Tale...more
Deanna
I won this on a Goodreads give away.

First off, I LOVED THIS BOOK! Second, it well written and engaging. Third, this book could have gone 100 different ways and she went with it with a direction I could live with. And finally, I cried, twice. I don't cry over books.

This book is about two sisters who were raised by a very loving American father and a very hateful Russian mother. They never felt like their mother loved or cared about them. As adults their father, who is dying, begs them to get to k...more
Penny
This is another book using the idea of a family in modern times and then flashbacks to an earlier time for one of the characters. This technique seems to be very dominant in many books at the moment.

This is about an American family of 2 daughters Meredith and Nina and their distant and cold Russian immigrant mother, Vera. The American/modern side of the story dragged and at times became repetitous for me, yet the Russian story of the seige of Leningrad was inspiring and beautiful. I kept wanting...more
Nelly
Ugh, I hated this book for so much of it and if it wasn't for the very end it would probably have only gotten two stars from me. I'm a sucker, I know, but it really was a touching ending. WWII fiction, especially set in Russia, is probably my most favorite genre and I had high hopes for this book. Really, the plot saved it. Not that it's all that original nor well executed, but is still one to tug at your heartstrings and make you go peek in on your sleeping child and feel his little belly risin...more
Limau Nipis
I cried buckets toward the end of the story.

My first Kristin Hannah's book, it was highly recommended if you are an ardent fan of Jodi Picoult. This is a heavy book, but unlike Jodi Picoult, it veers toward the lightness of the writing to bring up the heavy issue.

This book was a slow start, but it got interesting in the middle towards the end.

At first, it started as a small story, on why Anya Whitson, even as a mother to Meredith and Nina, seemed to not love her daughters. The daughters feel unw...more
Bobbi
A story within a story. Anya lives with her husband in Washington State on an apple farm. She is originally from Russia and married her husband when he was a soldier in Europe during WWII. They have two grown daughters, one who is running the orchard and the other who travels the world as a photographer.

Anya's beloved husband, Evan, is not well and is dying. Both daughters come home for his death and funeral. Before he dies, Evan makes his wife promise to finish one of the fairy tales she has to...more
Cindy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marnie
Family secrets have a way of screwing up everyone they touch and until the truth comes out love and understanding cannot exist.This is a story about two grown women who think their mother doesn't love them. They make a deathbed promise to their father to get to know their mother. Nightly retellings of a Russian fairy tale and plenty of vodka help things along.

The good: the Russian Fairy Tale. Reading about Leningrad during the war was compelling. Vera's story was heartbreaking and I liked that t...more
Alicia (is beyond tired of your *ish)
Four stars, five stars, I'm not sure what to rate this. I think it's four and a half stars.

Winter Garden is basically broken into two stories. The "present day" story (that's really 2000/2001) is filled with some seriously frustrating people. It's hard to understand why Meredith responds (or doesn't) to her husband, Jeff, the way she does. It is frustrating to watch her continually hurt him and him continually try to love her. Her younger sister, Nina, is a selfish brat and a journalist. She ha...more
Tiffany Cooke
Jun 02, 2012 Tiffany Cooke rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History lovers, Women
Shelves: 2011, great-heroines
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is an amazing book. It truly changed me as a woman and mother.
By living through the Siege of Leningrad as a young wife and mother, Vera is forced to make decisions that no woman should ever have to make. She faces devastating losses and manages to keep living because that is what the women in her life have taught her to do. Guilt and heartbreak close her heart to a relationship with her daughters. Her husband's dying wish is for her to tell their daughters a fa...more
Corey
I have read quite a few of Kristin's books in the past and while I usually enjoyed the story, there was always some element that was lacking that prevented me from fully immersing myself in the story. Winter Garden, to my surprise, was unlike the other books and I was completely captivated by this story.

The story focuses on Miranda and Nina, two sisters that spent much of their childhood trying to envoke warm smiles and love from their mother but always came up short. As adults, the lack of lov...more
Suzanne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kevin
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Dem
May 14, 2011 Dem rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes histoical fiction
Recommended to Dem by: No One
I bought this Novel while on holiday in New York, Just after finishing two novels which I disliked I was on the lookout for something relaxing and easy to read and this book really surprised me as I enjoyed it so much. It is about a two sisters who are very different and when their father dies the sisters finds themselves together again along with their strange and icy mother, On his deathbed their father asks his daughters to get their mother to tell them a story a fairytale she began years ago...more
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Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the blockbuster Firefly Lane and Night Road. She is a former lawyer turned writer and is the mother of one son. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii with her husband.
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Firefly Lane (Firefly Lane, #1) Night Road Home Front True Colors Magic Hour

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“We women make choices for others, not for ourselves, and when we are mothers, we...bear what we must for our children. You will protect them. It will hurt you; it will hurt them. Your job is to hide that your heart is breaking and do what they need you to do.” 55 likes
“They would always be a family, but if she'd learned anything in the past few weeks it was that a family wasn't a static thing. There were always changes going on. Like with continents, sometimes the changes were invisible and underground, and sometimes they were explosive and deadly. The trick was to keep your balance. You couldn't control the direction of your family any more than you could stop the continental shelf from breaking apart. All you could do was hold on for the ride.” 28 likes
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