Gloria Bernal's Reviews > Winter Garden

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
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's review
Jan 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 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 becomes an intimate look at war-torn Leningrad and the atrocity of war. One cannot fathom the pain, hunger, starvation and death all around the survivors, the terror of small children being taken by train away from their parents, starving, cold and afraid. Very moving, and well written.

In the present-day story the description of Sitka, in Alaska and its history was very interesting. One can easily imagine it. The characters are flawed but believable, the novel hard to forget and the ending entirely satisfying to this reader. Definitely recommended.

Gloria Bernal - Murrieta, CA.
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Reading Progress

January 5, 2010 – Shelved
January 5, 2010 –
page 58
Started Reading
January 13, 2010 – Finished Reading
November 8, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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Laura thanks for the "be patient" comment. I was pretty close to giving up on this book, but am encouraged to know that the story picks up. I am just now at the part where Anya agrees to tell her story.

Gloria Bernal I loved this part, it is very emotional.

Kathryn Grow I agree...I almost gave up in the

Kathryn Grow first half when at times I felt like I was reading a soap opera...the second half more than compensates.

♥ Marlene♥ Thanks for saying we have to have patience cause I was on the verge of quitting. I am where she for the first time tells more of the fairy tale. I will give it a bit more. Just checked to find out I have read 40% already!

Gloria Bernal Come back & tell me what you thought after you've finished it.

message 7: by ♥ Marlene♥ (last edited Oct 25, 2012 03:08AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

♥ Marlene♥ I had not read your last comment but I wanted to come back because you were so right. I think 3 pages after I replied to you I started to really get into the book. Loved the Russian part of it. She tried to mingle Contemporary with Historical Fiction but to me The latter was so much better. (Hey that rhymes?)lol. It was so good that at the end I was on the verge of tears, she got me good. Glad to see your review had 24 likes. Thanks to it I kept reading.

message 8: by Gloria (last edited Aug 26, 2012 03:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gloria Bernal You're welcome. Hannah usually doesn't disappoint me. This is definitely one of my favorites. I just got back from Alaska and was disappointed we didn't get to Sitka. Next time. I do want to go back. Glad you enjoyed it, Marlene.

message 9: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim Unfortunately I returned it to the library before I read this comment. I hated the first half so I'm not sure I would have liked the 2nd.

♥ Marlene♥ Well for me the change happened in 3 pages! So funny really. Maybe I will try some other books by her.

Estelle Acerno I, too, felt the first half to be a bit tedious, but could not put I'd down during second half of book. Excellent!

message 12: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Craft I'm so glad I read this review and all the comments. I'm having a hard time in the beginning too, but have been trying to hold on and will continue to do so!

Gloria Bernal Amy, let us know if you do finish it and what you thought. The 2nd half is the best part.

♥ Marlene♥ Yes I hope you will agree with us and enjoy the second part.

Nancy Mac I agree with you here. I was very turned off at the beginning of the book but it slowly got better. I'm glad I stuck through it as I did enjoy it.

message 16: by Deb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Deb Interesting... I didn't have any trouble getting into the book from beginning, but agree that the second half is the best part.

Terri I loved this book! This is the 6th book from Hannah I have read. It was very moving and with the story I wanted more! One part I wish was different but the ending of the epilogue made up for it! Excellent book in my opinion.

Gloria Bernal She knows how to string those words together, doesn't she? ;)

Chris Notionless great review! spot on. I agree

message 20: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Great review! I felt the same way

Jody Harralson Exactly how I felt about the book, Gloria Bernal. I thought I might have to start taking antidepressants before I got through the first hundred pages, but very glad I hung in there. I know Russian history and have been to Russia twice, but it bugs me that I can't remember that specific bridge. St. Petersburg is a city of beautiful ironwork bridges, each in a different design. I'm definitely ready for an Alaskan cruise!

Gloria Bernal Judy Harralson: since I wrote this review, over 6 years ago, I still vividly remember this novel and have visited Russia, including St Petersburg. I was in awe of the opulence of yesteryear, and in dismay for the common people who had so little back then, and the tumultuous history of it all. I'm happy to have read this before my trip and would love to go back and spend more time there. A cruise excursion just doesn't allow enough time. I loved Estonia too. Thanks for posting your comments. It pleased me that other readers are still finding my review helpful.

Jessica McGahan I couldn't agree more! At page 150, I was ready to quit. So glad I didn't! This book and The Nightingale are my favorite books of all time! Kristin Hannah is amazing!

Gloria Bernal Jessica McGahan - those two are my faves also. Loved The Nightingale. Winter Garden was exasperating in the first part what- with the sisters bickering, but redeemed itself in the last half. Very touching and well done.

April I agree! Beginning was a little slow but oh my gosh how it took off. This & the Nightingale have become my favorite books. Thank you Kristin Hannah!

Gloria Bernal Can't wait for a new one, seems like a long time since Nightingale.

Maria Thank you. I am in “first half” and so far am rating it two stars only due to Repetitive sentences, repetitive descriptions, & characters who are remarkably un-self aware. Bur Because of your review, I’ll stay with it!

Sybille Vought yes! so glad i didn’t quit reading!

Linda Silhan I'm so glad to see others feel the same way I did... seemed like the Russia story could have started at least 50 pages sooner! I too almost put it down!

message 30: by Gina (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gina I stopped reading. I usually give it about 100 pgs. This book was not great in the first half, kept waiting for her to get to it. oh well.

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