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
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.
I loved this book, it was a fabulous story about love, loss, forgiveness, and redemption.
My only complaint was the inappropriate language that was used in the first half of the book. I think it could have been avoided and would have made the story more enjoyable for me. I probably wouldn't recommend this book because of the harsh language.
I loved how the story unfolded. I loved that these three women who were broken were able to find love and forgiveness.
this is a powerful story that highlights a very important time in our history, especially during these difficult times. The twists and turns in the story line made it hard to put the book down.
Non Stop Action
When they go to Alaska meet with the profession and then go to the Russian lady's house. I was holding my breath as Vera looked at the pictures.
I believe she was the best narrator I've listened too. I would like to listen to other books she has narrated.
Never stop looking for love!
I agree with some other reviewers that said the first half of the book was slow. I was still interested in the characters, and the second half of the book was wonderful. Well worth the wait! I highly recommend!
I loved it. At one point it seemed a little drawn out but well worth the listen. Hated to have it end.
It was hard to stop listening and I finished it in just few days. The story unfolds in parallel in the present and about 60 years in the past. And as the two move forward you can't help but feel hopeful for the present and at the same time expect something horrible to happen in the past. This is a book about the family relationships, finding one's identity, the endurance of the human spirit and that it is never too late to fix mistakes.
A story within a story. This book unravels and delves into the mystery of a fairy tale. After this book the importance of love, forgiveness and life rings true. Cannot finish this book without crying.
I loved Anya's story set in the past ( the fairy tale)....I really didnt like the two daughters. If the story could have been only about Anya's past, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. I found myself only really interested in Anya's tale. Dont want to give anything away, but I wish the author would have eliminated Anya's present life...lol....A surprise ending though....not necessarily a good one....Enjoyable enough that I didnt return it...but again, only because of the fairy tale....
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