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.
The horrible language
Every cus word in it
Couldn't enjoy the story because of the awful language
Even though I love a good exploration of the inner person, I agree with other reviewers. The entire first third or so of this story is like fighting through impenetrable undergrowth to reach the fine journey.
The fine journey, however, is very fine. Use your skimming talents and hit at bits and pieces of the daughters' irritating, damaged personality quirks described at the beginning of the story. All you need to know from that section is that the daughters are stilted, there is an emotional void because of their mother's non-mothering, and the father has left them to flail around towards recovery.
Once the mother's story unfolds, it is poetic, tragic and astonishing. The healing at the end is the reward. If you are interested in hidden history and the real people-events in its midst, you will add a pearl to your treasury in hearing this story.
The reader is a treasure as well. She rides the waves of the narrative and takes you along with her. This is the fine music of words and inflection.
Family dynamics. Oops that's only two
yes, i have read several of her books and enjoyed each one.
I was surprised with the actual background of the parents. What an impact it had on the family as a whole and on each individual.
This was a good book, but pretty sad until the "water clears". I will continue to read books from this author.
One of my favorite listens!
When Anya tells her story to the Historian.
Nina, describing the farm on her first trip back in the early morning.
Nina, she's a spitfire.
Loved the narrator and have actually listened to others by this same narrator! She really tells the story well. The books storyline is very heartwarming and real and can so relate to the sisters relationship! Love stories about old family secrets and will recommend this book to many people!
I choose this book based on the fact that it is a story a least partially about Russian history from a female prospective. When the author finally got to this aspect of the story (the last third of the book), it did make it actually worth the first two-thirds. Tragically poignant like all good Russian literature should be. And told from the point of few of the wife and mother who was left behind during the struggle. Beautiful. Unfortunately, the book started out painfully slow, so bad that on numerous occasions I considered quitting and cutting my losses. The initial main characters lead repetitive lives, and the only way the author seems to know how to express the depth of their emotions is to repeat herself. In the book "One Day" David Nicholls tells of the tediousness of a section of Emma's life in such a wonderfully personal way without constantly repeating the same thing over and over it's beautiful literature. With Kristen Hannah the first two-thirds were horrible with repetitions. I kept thinking, " Yes, yes this character is sad and doesn't know how to express her feelings, yes, yes, we have already heard this twenty times!" Personally, if I were Hannah I would fire her editor. I could have given this book a solid 4 stars if the first two-thirds would have been condensed down to about three chapters. So, my personal recommendation, if you have time, credits, and patience, the ending is insightful, well written, and very poignant. But beware, the first part is annoyingly repetitive and tedious.
Sad and inspiring.
It was a little hard to get into at first but a truley compelling story.
one of the best storys I have read lately, could not stop listening
The russian life
I don't know, I didn't read the print version.
The revelation that Vera's daughter was alive.
Her voice was just right, not overacted. Very easy to listen to.
Lost and Found
The narrating of this book was irritating to listen to, so I just couldn't listen to it. Perhaps a teen would enjoy it.
I didn't care for the 'over-acting' tones. It seemed juvenile to me.
Don't know, as I didn't finish it.
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