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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 (1837 )
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  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 01-27-17
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 01-27-17 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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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
  •  
    Georgia Little Rock, AR, United States 11-25-16
    Georgia Little Rock, AR, United States 11-25-16 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader (listener). I work in dog rescue in Arkansas, am married and am 62 years old.

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    "Stayed Up Late Night After Night Listening!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Anyone who has an interest in historical fiction would enjoy this book. It's set in modern day, however, the mother tells a story throughout the entire book about her life in Russia during WWII. It's basically two stories in one. The author is masterful!


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

    Ken Follett is one of my favorite authors, and Kristin Hannah is right up there with him! I so happy to have found her! Many of Follett's books are historical fiction and although the characters are fiction ... the history is not. It was the same with this book. The plight of the world during WWII is unimaginable in today's world ... this author wove a tale you could see clearly in your mind's eye and feel the struggles as if you were right there in the room with the characters ... or trudging through snow in subzero temps.


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

    The narrator is absolutely brilliant. There was not one character or one accent that could have been improved upon. I've listened to her before, but she is right up there in my top five narrators! Perfect for this book.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I rarely have an "extreme" reaction to any book. But this time, I did. If you truly pay attention to the story and put yourself in the room with the characters, it would be impossible to not have an extreme reaction. I did smile some in the book, but more of my reaction was, "Oh, my God! The Suffering!!!" (at the hands of the Germans.} How could anyone be so evil to so many? No one who went through WWII got away unscathed, whether they were on the battle grounds or just trying to survive without freezing to death or starving to death. It just made me want to help and continue to ask, "Why is this happening? How can he (Hitler) get away with this?" It's so hard for me to understand how millions upon millions were following him ... he was pure evil.


    Any additional comments?

    It's a history lesson that you will enjoy. Although there is a lot of suffering in this book, there is no doubt this is an accurate account of exactly how it was in Russia during WWII. It was truly an amazing book. The ending was perfect.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda United States 11-12-13
    Amanda United States 11-12-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Mediocre Literature"
    What would have made Winter Garden better?

    The Winter Garden plot is predictable from the first chapter.


    What was most disappointing about Kristin Hannah’s story?

    It is just not a compelling story. Also, I am not that interested in working through the problems encountered by the death of a family member.


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

    My reaction was such boredom, I could not finish the book.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is written on the same level as a romance novel...but it's about death. The prose, the characters, the plot - nothing resonated. It was boring because it was written to about a 9th grade audience level.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 05-30-11
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 05-30-11 Member Since 2017
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    "Hannah Does It Again"

    Kristin Hannah has fast become one of my favorite authors. She knows how to tell a woman's story. They have so far (I have read this and Firefly Lane) been a bit dramatic and extreme, but believeable. In this case, it was a bit tiresome as the two sisters squabbled back and forth over the same issues, but that is reality in a family (I have three sisters). And the mother was a bit extreme in her hesitancy (refusal) to connect emotionally with these two daughters. But the mother's tale was riveting. This was delightful to listen to (if you can call the struggles Anya went through delightful). I will get more books by Hannah to listen to and recommend others do the same.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah 01-03-11
    Deborah 01-03-11
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    "Could not turn the book off!!"

    The characters are well-defined. The storyline absorbs you! The ending a shocker! A book that is well worth your money and your time!

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gini Sims 07-16-10
    Gini Sims 07-16-10 Member Since 2012
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    "Winter Garden"

    Awesome! It was an interesting way of introducing the story line over generations. The story was never finished until the last page. How could you not feel the joy and the pain of the mother as a child and her daughters struggle to understand her. It just gets better and better. I loved this book. I will listen again and again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Saginaw, TX, USA 06-29-10
    Jane Saginaw, TX, USA 06-29-10 Member Since 2017
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    "sad but very interesting"

    Russian history very good, but there are some very sad moments, worth reading

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R 03-27-10
    R 03-27-10 Member Since 2016
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    "Great book"

    Great book. I couldn't put it down! A compelling story of one's life and how it affects others.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Branchville, NJ, United States 03-11-10
    Kathy Branchville, NJ, United States 03-11-10
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    "Excellent"

    This is the first book of K Hannah that I have read. I didn't want it to end.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta Tecumseh, MI, USA 03-09-10
    Roberta Tecumseh, MI, USA 03-09-10 Member Since 2017
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    "Beautiful book!"

    This is one of the most beautiful stories I have 'read' in a long time. I was moved to tears by the ending. It combines a family saga with WWII history in a most engaging way. Not to be missed, and definitely the best of Kristin Hannah.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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