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Editorial 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 Ratings

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Story

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This audio book at the top of my favorites list!

I loved and shall savor this remarkable story for a very long time! Men, women both young & old will learn, grow and enjoy this stunning story!

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Fantastic! So great!

The story unfolds in a way that is hard to describe! But I was hooked from the start! Somewhat different than what I usually listen to but it truly opened my eyes to a new form of storytelling! I’m floating from this book like none before! Thank you for the opportunity!

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Amazing story

I don’t normally choose this type if story but couldn’t stop listening.

Quite the story, a little hard to live through at times, but just about when I was tired of the sadness it would shift

Very glad I listened to it. Amazing journey of family, hardship, misunderstandings and strength

Great character development and you truly feel like you are living through the experiences. I think I would have been cold even if I read it in 90 degree weather.

Great performance. A little drawn out at times, but well worth sticking through to the end.

Definitely recommend.

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Big downer.

if i had known it was so depressing i would have. skipped it at Christmas time

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Great premise

Did not engage in the “present” story line at all. Too predictable, and i feel part of that was tu

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  • RoseMarie
  • Robinson, IL, United States
  • 12-22-17

Beautifully Amazing

Touches the heart in so many ways. Patience in life is a blessing. Amazing story.

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Ok

It was a daily deal so not concerned with using a credit. The performance was good but it took me a long time to finish it just didn’t grab me.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J.
  • 12-20-17

I'd like to give it 6 Stars!

If you are looking for complex family drama, a variety of emotions and a great history lesson with geography details and characters that you start out disliking and in the end come to love then this is your book. I really did not like the 3 female leads at first getting very frustrated but as the story unfolds I grow to like them and root for a good outcome. I could never have anticipated how the story would grow and end. No spoiler here. My only complaint is the language. The story could have been told completely without the vulgar language.

I would highly recommend this as well worth the money.

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Beautifully written and performed

Should be required reading for all young adults, embracing a time that can all too easily be forgotten. Bravo!!

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Addictive

I could not resist this story. I wasn't sure if it was my style in the beginning and yet by the end I was shivering with the power of emotions coursing through my being.