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Winter Garden

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  145,679 ratings  ·  15,564 reviews
Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn’t know her mother?

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
Hardcover, 454 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by St. Martin's Press
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Carolyn After reading the Nightingale and the Great Alone, both I loved! I found this book boring. She repeated feelings of Meredith soooo much. Repeated so m…moreAfter reading the Nightingale and the Great Alone, both I loved! I found this book boring. She repeated feelings of Meredith soooo much. Repeated so much about how cold emotionally the mother was. I should have counted. I did not care about the loooooong fairytale. What other of her books is as good as the two I mentioned?(less)
Olivia Trass I am thirteen and have just finished reading it. It depends what you're interested in, but I personally loved it :)…moreI am thirteen and have just finished reading it. It depends what you're interested in, but I personally loved it :)(less)

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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  145,679 ratings  ·  15,564 reviews

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Aestas Book Blog
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing


Winter Garden was one of the most breathtaking  books that I have ever read 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 also has THE. MOST. BEAUTIFUL. EPILOGUE. of all-time. The only other books that has made me cry this hard before has been The Bronze Horseman which is my favorite book in the world... My God, THE FEELS!!!! What began as a
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing

One of the best books I've ever read. Period.


The five star rating that this book deserves - no, demands - makes me question all of my other books that I had given a five star rating. A five star rating should really be elusive, hard to achieve. But sometimes, when you are in the grip of a good book, you get a little fast and loose with your ratings. Well, I'm guilty of it from time to time. I am officially admitting that, "My Name is Crumb, and I'm a Five Star Rating Junkie." This book has
Once again, I find myself in awe of the power and beauty of Kristin Hannah’s words. She gives her readers the ability to crawl inside the story and see the world through the eyes of her characters. It’s her stunning gift for capturing the heart wrenching and emotional aspect of every connection that left me completely enamored with this family. Every single one of them. By the time I reached the end of the story, I was nowhere near ready to let them go.

There are people everywhere that find them
Mar 01, 2012 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 d ...more
Gloria ~ mzglorybe
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
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book starts off slow. It is a story of relationships--mother and two daughters, Meredith and Nina, and the two daughters who have a strained relationship. Their father, Evan has held the family together, making up for his wife not being able to show affection for her two daughters. But he has had a severe heart attack and is dying. In one last attempt to heal the emotional gulf between his wife and children, he asks his wife to tell them the fairy tale of the peasant girl and the prince.
Always Pouting
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meredith and Nina spent their whole lives without really knowing their mother Anya. Any attempts they tried to make to get close to her were rebuffed, so they gave up trying and began to believe that maybe their mother just didn't really care about them very much. When their father dies though he makes them promise to try to get to know their mother, and says that now that he will be gone their mother needs them. The story follows Meredith, Nina, and Anya as they get to know one another and grow ...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
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
I read Winter Garden in our Traveling Sisters reading good and made for a great discussion. It is a well-layered, intriguing and powerful family saga that explores the complicated relationships between a mother and her daughters and the two sisters. The story is told from the past through a fairy tale told by distant, cold and interesting Anya who is layered with mystery and the present as we see how the fairy tale begins to bond these women together.

Kristin Hannah cleverly and skillfully weave
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent heartfelt story about the troubled dynamics of the mother/daughter bond and the relationship between two sisters. Sisters Meredith and Nina couldn't be more different from one another, and have difficulty bridging the gap to find common ground. Their Russian-born mother, Anya, however, has always been cold and distant and the girls have felt unloved, affecting each of them in different ways. Their fragile bond is further threatened after the death of their father, who was the glue that ...more
Aug 22, 2011 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
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is the second novel I have read from Kristin Hannah in the past week....... What can I say another engrossing read. Kristen is a brilliant story teller, she masterfully draws you in with her vivid description of the surroundings and her characters, you feel like you are there experiencing all the ups and downs.

The first half of the book was a bit slow and took me a while to get into it, it really takes of half way through the book and I read the remainder of the book in one sitting. Such a
Aug 07, 2010 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
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some themes are close to me notably 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 especially 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 deadly. T
Apr 30, 2010 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
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonetta by: Stephanie Douglas
Meredith Cooper and her sister, Nina Whitson, were raised by an adoring father and a pretty dispassionate and cold mother. The absence of that maternal love impacted the sisters differently, one striving for perfection, leading an orderly and pleasing life and the other living a nomadic existence. Both were considered highly successful but also seeming to seek something that was just beyond their grasp. When their father died, both women were left to developed a relationship with their mother, w ...more
Dana Ilie
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a story of mothers and daughters and sisters and the strength of love. I'll admit, I'd had several friends recommend this book to me and for the first part of the book I wasn't truly certain why it was so talked about. That completely changed by the end. I've read the end wiping tears from my eyes, imagining myself in the place of these characters in such impossible circumstances, wondering if I could have lived through what they did. Next day I try to talk about the book wit my mother a ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hamad by: Leslie
I am reading this while it is freezing and raining outside! PERFECT weather for this book.

Jun 03, 2010 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
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-borrowed
Another 2018 re-read

Would you believe that this was actually my firstKristin Hannah novel? Even after all these years( first read was before Goodreads lifetime), it's probably the Hannah novel that I recommend the most and still holds those five golden stars. Winter Garden has that perfect blend of mother/daughter strife that makes for a very emotional experience while relating the very real historical event of the seige of Leningrad.
Nikki Joyce
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 to 4.5 stars!

I finished this book about three weeks ago, and it’s one that still pops into my mind (especially after yesterday’s mid-March snow!). As noted in my review of The Great Alone, I read Winter Garden during the same time, making both books my first experience with Kristin Hannah. And I was so pleased.

Winter Garden is the story of family dynamics and family dysfunction. It explores the lives of adult sisters Meredith and Nina, and their mother, Anya. Meredith and Nina, who are night
Apr 07, 2013 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
Karen Ng
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
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
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Color me surprised! I didn't have the best hopes for this book -- even though I loved The Nightingale. I thought that the rest of Kristin Hannah's books simply wouldn't measure up. While this one was not as good as Nightingale, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed (and was moved) by it.

Like Nightingale, Winter Garden includes a historical and modern day story (a two-fer, as my GR friend Cathrine calls it!). The historical tale is by far the better story here, and thankfully takes up the majorit
Nov 28, 2012 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
Apr 21, 2010 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
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
As Meredith and Nina's father lies dying he extracts a promise from his grown daughters that they will get to know and take care of their frail mother Vera (Anya) and that in return she will tell them the ending of a tale that they have never completely heard. This is harder than expected as Vera has been a cold distant mother and her daughters have always felt loved only by their father. However as the harrowing story of her previous life in war-torn Leningrad unfolds the past begins to mingle ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amazing read, very well formatted and loved all the characters!📚
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Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People's Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and Th ...more

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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.” 95 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.” 48 likes
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