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The Winter Guest

(The Winter Guest #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,463 ratings  ·  363 reviews
A stirring novel of first love in a time of war and the unbearable choices that could tear sisters apart, from the celebrated author of The Kommandant's Girl.

Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA (first published 2014)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,463 ratings  ·  363 reviews

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Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, netgally, wwii
The book is written in a way that doesn't make it exciting or interesting, thing are just happening, slowly.

Helena and Ruth are twin sister from a small village in Poland during the WWII. With their mother hospitalized they had to start taking care of their three younger siblings. The war is getting closer and supplies are scarce. Things are very dangerous and people are disappearing everyday. As the sisters struggle in their daily life, the rivalry and jealousy between them affects some of thei
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set during the Nazi occupation of Poland during WWII, eighteen-year-old Nowak twins, Helena and Ruth, are living in a small village in Poland. They are struggling to keep their family, which includes their three younger siblings, together. We get to know both sisters throughout the story and see how each one faces important decisions and challenges that are put before them, choices which will eventually draw them apart. An interesting WWII setting and a bit of romance too, make this a very enjoy ...more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in 1940, The Winter Guest is a hauntingly evocative tale of two sisters – twins – who are struggling to care for their three younger siblings in rural Poland at a time of great upheaval and uncertainty. Their father is dead, and their mother is ill in a hospital in Krakow, and the two girls, Helena and Ruth, are trying to fulfil their mother’s last wish by keeping the family together and keeping them all safe. But with severe food shortages, and the ever-present threat of the encroaching Ger ...more
Tara Chevrestt
I rarely waste too much time on books I don't like, but I was curious enough about what was going to happen to Sam and Helena in this book, that even though I disliked it already at 17%, I kept chugging along, only to come to regret that decision.

Having read and enjoyed for the most part Ms. Jenoff's work before (see my review of the Ambassador's Daughter), I am surprised to be saying this, but I hated this book. Been a while since I disliked a book as much as I dislike this one, especially one
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pam Jenoff has built a strong reputation writing about World War II and its lingering effects on ordinary people. In THE WINTER GUEST, she returns to Poland in 1940, site of her bestseller, The Kommandant’s Girl, to tell the story of Helena and Ruth, twin sisters living with their younger siblings in a village near Krakow, as the Nazis seize control.

The setting is key. Isolated from the rest of the country, like many rural Poles, Helena and Ruth struggle for daily survival among food rationing,
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review, netgalley
Two eighteen year old twin sisters-Helena and Ruth-are living in the mist of war and the Nazi occupation in Poland. Their father dead and their mother in the hospital, they struggle to take care of their younger siblings. Food is sparse and they are in fear of the constant threat of the Nazi’s arresting them or worse. Helena and Ruth couldn’t be more different in personalities. Helena has a daring, and courageous spirit-ventures out to the local village almost every day, to buy food. (A village ...more
Nicole Overmoyer
Aug 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
I just can't with this book. I wanted to love it, I really did. Historical fiction is my thing and I'll try anything centered around World War II. I also received a copy of this through the Goodreads FirstReads program so I really wanted to be able to like it and leave a review saying so.

But I can't.

I can say that the story could have been absolutely amazing.

But it wasn't.

To begin with, the first chapter (after the introduction) sets the story in 1940. And then Sam Rosen shows up. Sam is a downe
Riddikulus. Despite the assurances and serious name-dropping in the bio and acknowledgments that Jenoff received a history master’s at Cambridge, worked in the Pentagon, and witnessed the most senior levels of government, The Winter Guest is astonishingly inaccurate, far-fetched, fanciful and implausible.

I'm frequently disgusted by the contemporary novels that romanticize or sentimentalize this time period. Cloying romances masquerading as gritty historical fiction where the war functions prima
Mary Kubica
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful story of two sisters in World War II Poland. Jenoff is a wonderful storyteller, painting vivid images of life during the war. I learned quite a bit from THE WINTER GUEST and was touched time and again by the plight of the characters and the atrocities of war. Can't wait to read many, many more novels by Pam Jenoff.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-star
Eighteen year old twins Helena and Ruth are struggling. It is Poland, 1940. With their father dead and their mother institutionalised, they are left to jointly raise their younger siblings while desperately trying to ward off starvation and the harsh winters. When Helena comes across a young soldier stranded when his plane crashes, they begin a clandestine relationship and she gradually falls in love with the handsome American.

I loved this story because it features two equally strong women as i
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

WOW!!! I literally just finished this book and have tears in my eyes!!! This is one of the best love stories I have EVER read! And I have read thousands of love stories!!! This is such an unique and beautifully written story! If you love and enjoy a good love war story this is the book for you! Its based in Poland during WWII and it gives you some idea as to what these families went through, and its absolutely heart wrenching! The brav
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
This should have been a really wonderful read but it fell just a little bit flat for me.

Ruth and Helena are 18 years old, twin sisters, who have taken on the role of caring for their homestead and younger siblings in rural occupied Poland.

Their lives are harsh. Due to the shortages of food they are constantly starving, they struggle to clothe themselves and their growing siblings. Ruth is the homemaker, caring for everyone whilst Helena has taken on a more “hunter gatherer” role, providing for e
Sue Seligman
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an engrossing Holocaust novel set in the rural part of Poland during the Nazi Occupation. Eighteen year old twins Ruth and Helena are raising their younger brother and two younger sisters after the death of their father and the hospitalization of their mother. In fact their mother is in a Jewish hospital in Krakow, and Helena frequently walks there to check up on her as well as foraging for food and supplies at the markets. Life is bleak and hard under the Nazi rule, and neighbors are su ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this book from the Goodreads giveaway and even though we have the same last name we are not related(although I wouldn't mind as she is an excellent author) I read the first 7chapters the day the book arrived because I couldn't put it down! I don't know why but I have always been fascinated by WWII stories and the perseverance of the Jewish people and others who were persecuted by the Nazis. The fact that the story was set in Poland and I am of Polish descent added to my interest especially ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-library
Many thanks to Good Reads for letting me win the book that I really wanted to read. Beautiful written story that takes you to Poland during World War II.Family broken up by death,barely surviving 5 children during terrible holocaust times. We must never forget what happened to people during this terrible war, and fiction like this helps to remind us.Very sad at times....Characters are like real people...There is a love story in it....Pam Jenoff books never disappoints and I always highly recomme ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

WWII was still going on, and Poland was suffering along with all the European countries as families struggled to survive.

Helena and Ruth were left in charge of their three younger siblings since their father was killed by a runaway wagon and their mother was put in the hospital. Both girls were hard workers but had different views about the war and safety as well as being jealous of each other for everything.​

As the book continued, something unforgivable happened between the two sisters that le
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
I do love a good Pam Jenoff story and "The Winter Guest" is no exception. I have previously read The Ambassador , The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff and The Kommandant . Jenoff really knows how to keep her pulse on the events of the world wars especially WW2. The setting is Poland in the Second World War and concentrates on twin sisters, Helena and Ruth. The girls are trying to keep care of their two little sisters and one brother, while also tending to a sick mother who has recently been hospitalized. One day, Helena is in the nearby forest when ...more
Megan Readinginthesunshine
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having read a few novels by Pam Jenoff before, I was very pleased to be able to read her latest novel, The Winter Guest.

Helena and Ruth Nowak are twins and have always been very close. They are dedicated to the struggle of protecting their impoverished family during the brutal war in Poland. But then Helena discovers an Allied paratrooper who is alive, but wounded. She decides to hide Sam, who is a Jew, risking the safety of herself and her family. Now her loyalties are torn…

I enjoyed this. The
Actual rating 3.75
This novel is equal parts interesting historical fiction and ridiculous love story.

Helena and Ruth are raising their younger siblings in the midst of World War II in a small Polish village. Dads deceased and moms terminally ill in a hospital. They are scraping by on ration coupons oblivious to the horrors occurring right outside there isolated cabin near the woods.

Everything changes when Helena discovers a wounded American soldier and instead of reporting him, hides him in a c
I won a copy of this book through the goodreads giveaway.

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, but was a little reluctant to enter the draw for this one because the publisher is Harlequin. I decided to enter anyhow and give it a chance if I won it. I'm glad that I did. The story takes place in Poland just at the start of the German occupation of WWII. It is a well developed and researched story giving the reader a strong sense of the daily hardships that were endured by the local people. At time
If the author was trying to evoke feelings in her readers then she succeeded. The Winter Guest pissed me off so much I almost rage quit the damn book. I don't understand why so many authors insist on pitting sisters against each other. I hate it and it's so far out of my comprehension, as it is nothing like the relationship I have with my own sister. Ruth's actions were inexcusable and I felt personally betrayed on Helena's behalf. Once that happened I knew what else would transpire and of cours ...more
Priscille Sibley
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I've thoroughly enjoyed a few of Jenoff's other novels, but I would say that this one is my favorite so far. Every bit as intense, if not more so, as The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, this book takes you into the ordinary people behind the lines in a World War II country. It felt credible and tender and devastating. I highly recommend it.
I'm Not
Overall story would be 2 stars but one extremely mean thing which elicited a strong emotional reaction from me earned the book an extra star.
Twin sisters, Helena and Ruth, are left to care for their three younger siblings after their father has died and their mother, who has cancer, is forced to stay in a Jewish hospital during the war. Helena makes the long trip to the hospital in Krakow on foot every week while Ruth stays with the children. When returning from one of those visits, Helena comes upon a wounded American soldier who she helps to a crumbling chapel in the woods. This chance encounter will change all their lives.
This was
I'm a huge fan of Pam Jenoff but I was NOT a huge fan of this book and that makes me sad!

I found it a bit too long and I lost interest several times. I also didn't really like any of the characters.

The plot was interesting and had potential to be exciting but damn, it was not at all.

And... the whole American soldier in 1940 confused me. I know that some American's signed up with the British or Canadian forces but that wasn't conveyed, it was just like he was sent to spy... was that a thing? Th
Jacqueline Evans
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
While I quickly fell in love with some of Jenoff’s other novels, this one upset me deeply. This may be because of some personal values and fears, but I just hated parts of this and was simply not satisfied with the ending. I suggest reading The Kommandment’s Girl books or The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach. I’ll definitely read the rest of her novels in hopes that this one was just a bust for me.
Diana Grace
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3.75 stars
I really did enjoy this book though there were some dry parts and I didn't really get through the whoooole book. I'm also in a reading slump and just getting out of it so that could be why I didn't enjoy it as much.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is SO GOOD! If you love romance and historical fiction - this one is for you! There is a horrible twist in the story that will leave you mad as fire, but wanting to read more.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read various books by Pam Jenoff and really enjoy her style of writing. I could not believe what Ruth did, it made me not like her character.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 3 2 Sep 11, 2015 06:35AM  

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Pam is the author of several novels, including her most recent The Lost Girls of Paris and The Orphan's Tale, both instant New York Times bestsellers. Pam was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Speci ...more

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The Winter Guest (2 books)
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