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Winter Garden

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  66,131 Ratings  ·  8,118 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
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2009)
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Olivia Trass I am thirteen and have just finished reading it. It depends what you're interested in, but I personally loved it :)
Fredericka Deberry I could not put it down. I read it so fast that I am re-reading now to better absorb what I might have missed the first time. It has piqued my…moreI could not put it down. I read it so fast that I am re-reading now to better absorb what I might have missed the first time. It has piqued my interest in the Siege of Leningrad and I will most likely look for material on that horrible event when I finish re-reading.

I got my copy for one cent + $3.99 postage through Amazon. I originally bought it because a friend living half way across the country from me was having to do a review of the book and wanted my take on it. I'm glad she asked me to read it.(less)

Community Reviews

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Aestas Book Blog
Nov 28, 2015 Aestas Book Blog rated it it was amazing


Winter Gardenwasone of the most breathtaking books that I have everread in my entire life. And I do not say that lightly. I cried so hard I couldn't even see the pages. The emotions were overpowering and all-consuming. It alsohas THE. MOST. BEAUTIFUL. EPILOGUE. of all-time. The only other books that hasmade me cry this hard before has been The Bronze Horsemanwhich is my favorite book in the world... My God, THE FEELS!!!! What began as a family mys
Gloria Bernal
Oct 03, 2011 Gloria Bernal rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Mar 01, 2012 Carol rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Oct 05, 2010 Janelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, favorites
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
Emotionally-charged, epic story by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Have a box of tissues handy if you are planning to read! I picked this book up at a Used Book Sale this year -- after loving The Nightingale. Today, I just needed something different to read -- so I pulled it off the shelf. I almost couldn't put it down until it was complete! I was a bit late in picking my son up from swim practice (but traffic happens!!)...

This is a story about love, surviv
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
Jul 21, 2016 Lizzy rated it really liked it
There are themes that are close to me, specially stories that deal with mothers and daughters or families in general. That is a theme also dear to Kristin Hannah, from what I read of her books and specially in Winter Garden:
"They would always be a family, but if she 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
Dec 14, 2012 Ns rated it it was amazing
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
Dale Harcombe
Three and a half stars. Hard to write a review about this one as I had a few different thoughts. But here goes.
Parts of this story about two sisters and their Russian immigrant mother were very interesting. Sometimes I had to put it aside for a while because I couldn’t bear to read too much of the 1940s Leningrad stories at once. Some of the images, about a time I knew little about, were harrowing. It made me so thankful I have never lived through a world war and the tragedies that result. Other
Aug 23, 2013 Brooke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
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
Ellen Black
May 04, 2011 Ellen Black rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 22, 2011 Irene rated it it was ok
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
Kristin Hannah never fails to bring a story together full of history and wonderful characters. The Winter Garden is no exception. The historical facts behind this book are ones I was not familiar with...the siege of Leningrad at the end of WW2. There were so many areas of destruction with this war and I have been introduced to so many aspects of it through several novels of late.

Nina and Merideth are sisters who adored the father that was their whole world. They return home as he becomes ill a
Feb 06, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: traded, chick-lit
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
I picked this book for two reasons, one- I recently read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and after it being one of the best books I read lately, I was eager for more!
The other reason I picked this book out of her many best sellers was the WWII subject (yea, no surprise here, if you know me a little bit).
So, what went wrong FOR ME was, that it wasn't like the blurb suggested- a story about two sisters learning their mother's story about what happened to her in Leningrad during the blockage, it
Julie Markham
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. ...more
Aug 07, 2010 M rated it did not like it
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
Oct 01, 2016 Hildy rated it it was amazing
I want to slap myself for not reading this sooner. It was so emotional and very reminiscent of The Bronze Horseman. I loved it!
Apr 30, 2010 Cheryl rated it liked it
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
Nov 28, 2012 Tracy rated it it was ok
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
Mar 12, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sweeter-reads
5 big stars!!! I haven't cried this much since I finished Gone With The Wind!

Going into this book, I really had no idea what it was going to be about; I'm not a huge synopsis reader. All I knew was that Kristin Hannah wrote it and most everybody in my book club loves her. Now I know why she is so popular. Through her brilliantly, flawless writing, is a story that hits directly at your heart... and keeps tugging and twisting at it until the very end.

The beginning of the book was on the slower si
Mandy Jo
Oct 20, 2012 Mandy Jo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 10, 2012 jen rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 27, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-read
Meredith and Nina are like chalk and cheese when it comes to being sisters. But the one thing they do have in common is the love of their father, so when he falls sick and is dying they are both at his bedside. Neither Meredith or Nina ever shared the same love for their mother, but they promise their father that they will take care of her once he is gone.

After their father passes away Meredith and Nina find the following few months rather difficult and soon realize that caring for their mother
Nov 23, 2011 Almeta rated it really liked it
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
Aug 18, 2016 Laura rated it it was ok
Shelves: two-star
One of the major issues with reading a brilliant novel by an author is that you anticipate every other novel of hers will live up to your high expectations. Having been utterly in love with The Nightingale - and pleasantly surprised with Firefly Lane - that, alongside this books high GoodReads rating, gave a positive indicator that this would be just my cup of tea. Unfortunately, I found it tedious and ended up skim-reading the last several pages. By that point, I had completely lost interest in ...more
Dec 23, 2009 Deanna rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2014 Penny rated it liked it
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
Feb 24, 2015 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Kristin Hannah; Beautifully written drama
There’s something to be said when an author is able to bring to life a certain era of human history in which there were so much pain and suffering without making it sound trite. When said author can do so with such beautiful storytelling, it is simply amazing.

It was amazing how Kristin Hannah managed to tell the story of Leningrad during WWII in Winter Garden. It was beautiful how she blended historical fiction with a contemporary family drama. Much credit goes to her wonderful writing. She has
Sep 22, 2011 Nelly rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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Play Book Tag: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah 2.5 stars 4 16 Oct 21, 2016 06:41AM  
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Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels, including the blockbuster Firefly Lane and #1 bestsellers Night Road and Home Front. 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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“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.” 69 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.” 37 likes
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