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Winter Garden: A Novel | [Kristin Hannah]

Winter Garden: A Novel

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 other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father fails ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters
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Audible Editor Reviews

in Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden, we find three women — a mother and two daughters by blood, but strangers in their hearts — reeling from the loss of the man who held their fragile family together. Emptiness pervades this story — hollowing out what is left of the Whitson family and creeping into the space between narrator Susan Erickson’s words.

Anya and her daughters Meredith and Nina have already lost their husband and father to death — and risk losing each other to pride. Evan Whitson knew of this risk, and on his deathbed asked his wife to tell their daughters her “fairy tale” from start to finish. And so we find the Whitson women gathered in the dark at their family home, Belye Nochi, night after night.

Meredith is the older daughter who stayed home to take care of the family business, and her marriage is falling apart. Younger sister Nina, meanwhile, has traveled the globe as a renowned photographer, but refuses to marry the love of her life. Neither sister has much of a relationship with the other — much less with their cold and distant mother, Anya, whose mysterious past in Russia haunts them all.

Erickson’s Anya is resolute, her Nina bold, and her Meredith lost. Effortlessly, it seems, Erickson captures in one moment the decades of sorrow in Anya’s voice and in the next the ready spirit in Nina’s. Always we hear the sheer exhaustion in Meredith’s. Erickson’s voice is at times empty and full, icy and warm, sharp and soft. Throughout the book all three women are alternately devastated with loss, isolated by bitterness, and joyous for the love of family, and Erickson lets us hear it all with her honest and gentle delivery.

Winter Garden is a story best listened to — it is after all a testament to the power of storytelling. What Meredith and Nina hear in their mother’s story will cause them to face their grief head on and just might make them a family once again. —Sarah Evans Hogeboom

Publisher's Summary

From the author of the smash-hit best-seller 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 other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father fails ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago.

Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

©2010 Kristin Hannah; (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (695 )
5 star
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4.0 (428 )
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Story
4.1 (433 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    canary yellow 06-25-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    129
    7
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Winter Garden"

    It was a little slow to start, and then it became a 'can't put it down book'. I really enjoyed this book. I have recommended it to my family and friends.
    Kristin Hannah is a great author!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lane 05-16-11
    Lane 05-16-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "Boring language, weak interpersonal relationships"

    I was encouraged to read this book by the synopsis. However, I was thoroughly disappointed by the lack of interesting use of the language and by the relentless disfunctional sisters, couples and parents/children who repeated their behavior over and over. I lost patience and did not finish the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Felicity Busselton, Australia 04-26-11
    Felicity Busselton, Australia 04-26-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    4
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Powerful, moving, strong characters"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this listen. I connected with many of the characters, and found the insight into the siege of Leningrad very powerful and meaningful. It had me sobbing in bed at 2am in the morning, and I would highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Silvia Ventura, CA, United States 04-25-11
    Silvia Ventura, CA, United States 04-25-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    "Wonderful!"

    The reading/performance was wonderful! The presentation of the individual characters was almost flawless. I'm not certain I would have enjoyed reading this book as much as I totally enjoyed having it read to me. Thank you thank you Susan Ericksen!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Rangel Edmond, OK United States 04-11-11
    Helen Rangel Edmond, OK United States 04-11-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    256
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Overall
    "Slow and depressing"

    This is one of the most depressing novels I've listened to. Couldn't finish it. The same theme reappeared consistently throughout the first half. The narrator was great...that is why I could give it 2 stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jennifer Albany, NY, United States 02-21-11
    jennifer Albany, NY, United States 02-21-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "so much more than the description"

    This was a great book. I didn't think much of it by the description but thought I would try it (it was book three of a buy 2 get one free deal). I LOVED it. It was really a wonderful story of love, family, struggle and the ability of the human spirit to survive. It was read really well also.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donita Ascheman 07-29-10 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    1
    Overall
    "Winter Garden"

    Very touching and well told story of mothers and daughters including a painful history from Russia!!!!!!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Alice USA 03-18-13
    Mary Alice USA 03-18-13 Member Since 2010

    LitWit

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Many better books with the same theme"
    Would you try another book from Kristin Hannah and/or Susan Ericksen?

    No


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Kitchen Help


    What three words best describe Susan Ericksen’s performance?

    Just OK


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Winter Garden?

    Too much information a lot of times. Sometimes less is more. The fairy tale analogy was the best part. The ending was ridiculous.


    Any additional comments?

    The "Madonnas of Leningrad" was a far superior read with almost the same themes

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Kaneohe, HI, United States 02-03-13
    Catherine Kaneohe, HI, United States 02-03-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "On Chapter 4 Not Sure I can finish"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Better characters.


    What was most disappointing about Kristin Hannah’s story?

    It was slow and repetitive. They don't get along, we get it, move on with the story. It starts becoming a blah blah blah story. Seems unrealistic that real adults would be fixated like this on fairytales while someone is dying.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Not her fault.


    What character would you cut from Winter Garden?

    Meredith.


    Any additional comments?

    Disappointed.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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