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.
It took me a few chapters to warm up to this one but Kristin Hannah never lets me down! And Susan Ericksen was fabulous!
Soggy, soppy, sloppy writing. Some (very small) good sections, but overall uncompelling and a waste of time listening to this dribble.
Demand better writing. Return this book.
Everyday is a New day!
I have recommended this book to many friends and family. Its a must listen!
The journey this book takes you on is Amazing.
The story telling and change of language thru the book.
Not yet but I will
Do you know your family?
If you think about stopping the audio like I did...DONT
Wonderful story filled with surprises, complex human interactions and a healthy smattering of seldom heard history. The performance of the narrator was outstanding in presenting the variety of characters unique voices and dialects.
The way the author carefully unfolded the story.
Too many to pick one favorite.
Never laughter...tears yes and toward the end relief and joy.
I recently read Kristin Hannah's Night Road and enjoyed it so much that I decided to read this book. While it is a good story, I found it tended to be too long and drawn out, thus making it a little boring in patches. And, as with all books that are drawn out, it rushed to end the story.
I will be happy to read another of this author's books in the hope that the promise of the first book, Night Road, will again be fulfilled.
Too many to name.
I haven't listened to others by this narrator, but I'm on my way to find more now. A good narrator makes all the difference. An excellent one, such as Ms Ericksen, could probably raise even a mediocre story to another level. A poor one can destroy a book (as I'm in a position to know).
This was a hard book to listen to for long periods because of the pain detailed in both stories, but I'm so glad I persevered. Excellent character development and tension, well paced. The author's depiction of war-time Leningrad made me ache for the sufferers.
The accents and voices are great for immersing me in the stories.
This book's first half is almost painful. The characters are annoying at best - spoiled, selfish, and I had no love. But the second half makes up for it. Wow. the story had me in tears more than once, and I could not stop listening. I know this story will stay with me a long time. It makes me want to seek out more stories from that time and place.
Love listening to audiobooks. I have been with audible since 2008, either here or with another account! I love audible!
I really loved the story and the characters! It is very heart wrenching though! I would definately recommend this book to others.!
Where ever it is, whatever the reason, who ever is there - war savages humanity. Why is it women are more victims of the brutality than men!
This story is well told and heart wrenching. The vividness of the horror is something that will stay with me especially as I know it to be an accurate portrayal of the circumstance even if the characters are fictional. Hopefully it will help me see more beauty and be more grateful for the peace that surrounds me.
From a personal viewpoint - as the offspring of a World War II veteran and having lost loved ones to Vietnam I can attest as to how war continues its horrific embrace on all members of a family. Thankyou Kristin for helping me to release some of my own demons.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.