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Winter Garden Audiobook

Winter Garden: A Novel

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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

4.3 (2374 )
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  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 01-27-17
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 01-27-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    484
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    "Historical, Heartbreaking, Healing WAIT FOR IT"

    Deeply moving and heart wrenching . . . one of the very best books I have ever listened to . . . and you won't learn that in the first hour or two that you listen . . . so if you are too impatient to wait for the story to unfold, then you just need to pick another book . . . but you will be making a big mistake . . . this tale is a treasure, deeply buried, under years of pain and sheer survival . . . yet within it also lingers the beauty of a very old country, full of tradition, turreted castles, and exquisite fairy tales . . . passed down from one generation to another . . . and the long ago memory of a time when a young girl allowed herself to dream . . . before the darkness came and stole it all away . . . give yourself permission to listen . . . to not judge . . . to HEAR between the lines the sad, yet beautiful story of a broken family that very much wants to find one another . . . and never has learned how . . . and travel the road with them . . . you will be amazed at where it leads . . .

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Stewart 10-21-17
    Ray Stewart 10-21-17
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    "Siege of Leningrad"

    I listened to this book by Kristin Hannah because I read her more recent book, "The Nightingale" and liked it a lot. At first it was difficult for me to like the women in "Winter Garden," but towards the end of the book they started to seem more like people that I could relate to. The Russian mother tells fairy tales to her daughters that turn out to be her younger, real life, including the Siege of Leningrad.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Towe 10-21-17
    Paula Towe 10-21-17 Member Since 2015
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    "The 2nd half is worth the wait"

    I really was not crazy about the first half of the book but the 2nd half was lovely

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Vinelli de Rivera 10-21-17
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    "Enlightening!"

    All too often in historical fiction of WWII you read about France and England, rarely is there anything on the plight of the Russian people. This novel tells a beautiful story of what happen to them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Lou Skowronski Newport Beach, CA, United States 10-19-17
    Mary Lou Skowronski Newport Beach, CA, United States 10-19-17 Member Since 2012
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    "A Beautiful Story of Strength and Love"

    Whether you are a Russian survivor or not, you will thoroughly enjoy listening to the Winter Garden and feel the true power of hope and love.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    sue 10-17-17
    sue 10-17-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Great plot, marginal writing"

    Uses the same phrases over and over again. The two daughters were winers. The plot was great but the writing was pretty amateurish

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    NorthofBoston 10-14-17 Member Since 2010
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    "Not up to her usual"

    The book just goes on and on. I kept waiting for the story and finally gave up. It's boring and upsetting. I usually enjoy Kristin Hannah's books but not this time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jay Anders 10-12-17
    Jay Anders 10-12-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Heart wrenching and beautiful "

    This is not my usual type of book. I'm not even sure what made me chose it. I am so glad that I did. Do you have books that stick with you for a long time? This will be one of those books for me. It is so many things...History, romance, drama, heartache, adventure. This is a beautifully written amazing story of a family. I feel that I could not give a description that will give this book justice. My humble opinion is that it is incredible and it has made its way on to my top 10 favorite books ever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Diane Mora 10-11-17
    Diane Mora 10-11-17
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    "Wonderful performance!"

    I found the plot ending a bit contrived, but the story-within-the-story was mesmerizing. An incredible performance!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Ronald 10-10-17
    Ronald 10-10-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Exquisite "

    What an awesome read. I felt like I was there with them. I felt every heartache every joy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Susanna
    12/27/11
    Overall
    "Winter Garden"

    I chose this audibook after reading many good reviews about the novel. It tells the story about the relationship between two sisters and their mother who has always been very cold and distant to them. When the father (who was the strengh of the family) dies, following a promise that the 3 women made to him, the mother explains to her daughers the truth of her earlier life in Leningrad during the war. This story helps the daughters understand their mother better and changes completety their relationship. For me the story is an example of how important it is to talk about emotions and feelings to the people you love, and how misunderstandings can spoil relationships. I would recommend this book as I really enjoyed it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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