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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 (801 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Patricia Las Vegas, NV, United States 08-23-12
    Patricia Las Vegas, NV, United States 08-23-12 Member Since 2010

    Mother of 3, grandmother of 6, retired nurse and substance abuse counselor. Thrilled to have the time to read or listen to books again.

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    "an extremely good book"

    When i purchased this book i had no idea what it was about, i read the preview but it could not and did not give a clue as to the depth of this story nor the brutality the people endured trying to survive the hardships of war. It is my opinion that the author could not have done a better job in telling the story of the lives of this family and the unimaginable strength of the main character Vera. This is a book that will stay with me for the rest of my life, i will never forget this family. Like the unforgettable characters in Dr.Zhavigo so will these people live on in my mind.
    The narrator also did an excellent job in the telling of this story, every thing about it from the words written by a gifted author to the narration by an equally gifted narrator held me captive until the very end where many many tears were shed by me at its conclusion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather SPOKANE, WA, United States 08-21-12
    Heather SPOKANE, WA, United States 08-21-12
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    "Loved It!"
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this story. I was sorry when it was over. It's one I would definitely recommend, it's a great read/listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Clio, MI, United States 08-16-12
    Diane Clio, MI, United States 08-16-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Slow to start, then....WHAM! Mesmerizing."
    Where does Winter Garden rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's one of the most unique stories, woven in an extremely creative way. And there's so much history to be learned from it also. I've read so many crime dramas, courtrooms, etc. This is family, war, emotions, reality, heart wrenching issues and I just would listen and was so glad I picked it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Oh, that's easy....it's the storyteller...Ania. So strong of a woman, I don't think I could be that strong and then to tell her story with such grace. I hated her in the beginning, I thought 'What a cold woman'. But into the second part she became so strong and loving to her family and I could see what brought her to make the choices that she made. It was a hard time in 1941 Leningrad, I'm certain.


    What does Susan Ericksen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    That's one of the best parts! The language! Ania is Russian-American but a lot of it takes place in Russia during the Siege with Germany. Her use of the language, the names and towns was so beautiful it was like music. You can't get that from any book, no matter how pretty the cover is!!


    If you could take any character from Winter Garden out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Maybe Stacie....She had thought her mother (Vera, to her) was dead, even had a headstone for her. And Stacie had become Americanized. And who walks into her home?
    I would love to spend time with Stacie and find out what her life had been like from age 5 till now.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is very much worth the read. I thought the two daughters bickering in the beginning was getting on my nerves, but into the second part I could see how that all played into the story. A very creative book. I just may listen to it again this winter....in front of my fire.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Jordan 08-15-12

    oma

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    "I will be thinking of this story for a long time.."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Winter Garden to be better than the print version?

    Yes. Susan Ericksen did an excellent job on the Russian accents.


    Any additional comments?

    This story was heartwrenching for me. Maybe it is because my mother was 13yrs old in Frankfurt, Germany and experienced the rationing of food, constant hunger, and having her house bombed out. It makes me so grateful to live freely and not have to watch my children starve.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Whatmorecanyousay Sea Isle, NJ, USA 08-08-12
    Whatmorecanyousay Sea Isle, NJ, USA 08-08-12 Member Since 2010

    Bob

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    "I said to my wife lets sink this chick book"
    Would you listen to Winter Garden again? Why?

    She made me persist and although the chick talk did not impress for the first 2 hrs the entire story and WW2 history based story was intriguing with a surprise ending even for the guys.


    What other book might you compare Winter Garden to and why?

    None


    What does Susan Ericksen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    No opinion


    If you could take any character from Winter Garden out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Das Mother


    Any additional comments?

    story with twists

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Los Olivos, United States Minor Outlying Islands 04-21-12
    Laura Los Olivos, United States Minor Outlying Islands 04-21-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Narrator Susan Ericksen ruins every book she reads"

    This narrator makes every word sound hokey. Her accents are terrible, her enunciation so overdone that it makes me feel like I'm listening to a high school play. I don't know if this book is any good. It was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust, who read the physical book, but this narrator is so grating I can't get past her reading. I'm annoyed I even bought it, because Susan Ericksen read another book that I purchased many months ago, and I couldn't stand her narration in that one either!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen 03-02-12
    Jen 03-02-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Heartwrenching"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Winter Garden to be better than the print version?

    I would prefer the audio version because of the richness brought into the story by hearing the words spoken out loud. Susan Ericksen brings the story told by Anna to life with her Russian accent and correct pronunciation of the Soviet terms.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character was Vera. The descriptions of her life from her point of view were explicit enough to feel that you were there with her. The historical accuracy made it easy to identify with her and the situation that she was in.


    Any additional comments?

    This tale literally made my heart hurt when the last line was spoken. That last line echoed in my head for days afterward. The first half of the book seemed slow and hard to lose myself in, but once the mother began the

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nancy TOPTON, PA, United States 12-08-11
    nancy TOPTON, PA, United States 12-08-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "boring"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    the plot was mundane...the narration was flat except for good russian and scottish accents.
    i didn't even finish reading it. i didn't care what happened.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    as i said...boredom


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Regina Round Lake Beach, IL, United States 12-05-11
    Regina Round Lake Beach, IL, United States 12-05-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Even on a second listen, I couldn't stop !"

    I was already a Kristin Hannah fan, but this is my favorite of all. The relationships were so
    touching. The unfolding of the tale was spellbinding. I am going to buy it for my daughters for Christmas. I really loved this book !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy McHenry, IL, United States 11-28-11
    Nancy McHenry, IL, United States 11-28-11 Member Since 2011
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    "I Recommend this book to everyone!"

    This book is wonderful! I have recommended it to anyone who asks for a good read. I loved the story and all of the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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