Winter Garden: A Novel

Winter Garden: A Novel

by Kristin Hannah


$14.44 $16.99 Save 15% Current price is $14.44, Original price is $16.99. You Save 15%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, January 24

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312663155
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 954
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.34(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

Kristin Hannah is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the The Nightingale, a major motion picture directed by Michelle MacLaren, and The Great Alone, set in Alaska. Hannah is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Firefly Lane, Winter Garden, Night Road, Fly Away, and Home Front, which has been optioned for film by 1492 Films (producers of the Oscar-nominated film The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to write, produce, and direct. She is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.

Read an Excerpt


2000Was this what forty looked like? Really? In the past year Meredith had gone from Miss to Ma’am. Just like that, with no transition. Even worse, her skin had begun to lose its elasticity. There were tiny pleats in places that used to be smooth. Her neck was fuller, there was no doubt about it. She hadn’t gone gray yet; that was the one saving grace. Her chestnut-colored hair, cut in a no-nonsense shoulder-length bob, was still full and shiny. But her eyes gave her away. She looked tired. And not only at six in the morning.She turned away from the mirror and stripped out of her old T-shirt and into a pair of black sweats, anklet socks, and a long-sleeved black shirt. Pulling her hair into a stumpy ponytail, she left the bathroom and walked into her darkened bedroom, where the soft strains of her husband’s snoring made her almost want to crawl back into bed. In the old days, she would have done just that, would have snuggled up against him.Leaving the room, she clicked the door shut behind her and headed down the hallway toward the stairs.In the pale glow of a pair of long-outdated night-lights, she passed the closed doors of her children’s bedrooms. Not that they were children anymore. Jillian was nineteen now, a sophomore at UCLA who dreamed of being a doctor, and Maddy—Meredith’s baby—was eighteen and a freshman at Vanderbilt. Without them, this house—and Meredith’s life—felt emptier and quieter than she’d expected. For nearly twenty years, she had devoted herself to being the kind of mother she hadn’t had, and it had worked. She and her daughters had become the best of friends. Their absence left her feeling adrift , a little purposeless. She knew it was silly. It wasn’t as if she didn’t have plenty to do. She just missed the girls; that was all.She kept moving. Lately that seemed to be the best way to handle things.Downstairs, she stopped in the living room just long enough to plug in the Christmas tree lights. In the mudroom, the dogs leaped up at her, yapping and wagging their tails.“Luke, Leia, no jumping,” she scolded the huskies, scratching their ears as she led them to the back door. When she opened it, cold air rushed in. Snow had fallen again last night, and though it was still dark on this mid-December morning, she could make out the pale pearlescence of road and field. Her breath turned into vapory plumes.By the time they were all outside and on their way, it was 6:10 and the sky was a deep purplish gray.Right on time.Meredith ran slowly at first, acclimating herself to the cold. As she did every weekday morning, she ran along the gravel road that led from her house, down past her parents’ house, and out to the old single-lane road that ended about a mile up the hill. From there, she followed the loop out to the golf course and back. Four miles exactly. It was a routine she rarely missed; she had no choice, really. Everything about Meredith was big by nature. She was tall, with broad shoulders, curvy hips, and big feet. Even her features seemed just a little too much for her pale, oval face—she had a big Julia Roberts– type mouth, huge brown eyes, full eyebrows, and thick hair. Only constant exercise, a vigilant diet, good hair products, and an industrial-sized pair of tweezers could keep her looking good.As she turned back onto her road, the rising sun illuminated the mountains, turned their snowcapped peaks lavender and pink.On either side of her, thousands of bare, spindly apple trees showed through the snow like brown stitches on white fabric. This fertile cleft of land had belonged to their family for fifty years, and there, in the center of it all, tall and proud, was the home in which she’d grown up. Belye Nochi. Even in the half-light it looked ridiculously out of place and ostentatious.Meredith kept running up the hill, faster and faster, until she could barely breathe and there was a stitch in her side.She came to a stop at her own front porch as the valley filled with bright golden light. She fed the dogs and then hurried upstairs. She was just going into the bathroom as Jeff was coming out. Wearing only a towel, with his graying blond hair still dripping wet, he turned sideways to let her pass, and she did the same. Neither one of them spoke.By 7:20, she was drying her hair, and by 7:30—right on time—she was dressed for work in a pair of black jeans and a fitted green blouse. A little eyeliner, some blush and mascara, a coat of lipstick, and she was ready to go.Downstairs, she found Jeff at the kitchen table, sitting in his regular chair, reading The New York Times. The dogs were asleep at his feet.She went to the coffeepot and poured herself a cup. “You need a refill?”“I’m good,” he said without looking up.Meredith stirred soy milk into her coffee, watching the color change. It occurred to her that she and Jeff only talked at a distance lately, like strangers—or disillusioned partners—and only about work or the kids. She tried idly to remember the last time they’d made love, and couldn’t.Maybe that was normal. Certainly it was. When you’d been married as long as they had, there were bound to be quiet times. Still, it saddened her sometimes to remember how passionate they used to be. She’d been fourteen on their first date (they’d gone to see Young Frankenstein; it was still one of their favorites), and to be honest, that was the last time she’d ever really looked at another guy. It was strange when she thought about that now; she didn’t consider herself a romantic woman, but she’d fallen in love practically at first sight. He’d been a part of her for as long as she could remember.They’d married early—too early, really—and she’d followed him to college in Seattle, working nights and weekends in smoky bars to pay tuition. She’d been happy in their cramped, tiny U District apartment. Then, when they were seniors, she’d gotten pregnant. It had terrified her at first. She’d worried that she was like her mother, and that parenthood wouldn’t be a good thing. But she discovered, to her profound relief, that she was the complete opposite of her own mother. Perhaps her youth had helped in that. God knew Mom had not been young when Meredith was born.Jeff shook his head. It was a minute gesture, barely even a movement, but she saw it. She had always been attuned to him, and lately their mutual disappointments seemed to create sound, like a high-pitched whistle that only she could hear.“What?” she said.“Nothing.”“You didn’t shake your head over nothing. What’s the matter?”“I just asked you something.”“I didn’t hear you. Ask me again.”“It doesn’t matter.”“Fine.” She took her coffee and headed toward the dining room.It was something she’d done a hundred times, and yet just then, as she passed under the old-fashioned ceiling light with its useless bit of plastic mistletoe, her view changed.She saw herself as if from a distance: a forty-year-old woman, holding a cup of coffee, looking at two empty places at the table, and at the husband who was still here, and for a split second she wondered what other life that woman could have lived. What if she hadn’t come home to run the orchard and raise her children? What if she hadn’t gotten married so young? What kind of woman could she have become? And then it was gone like a soap bubble, and she was back where she belonged.“Will you be home for dinner?”“Aren’t I always?”“Seven o’clock,” she said.“By all means,” he said, turning the page. “Let’s set a time.”Meredith was at her desk by eight o’clock. As usual, she was the first to arrive and went about the cubicle-divided space on the ware house’s second floor flipping on lights. She passed by her dad’s office—empty now—pausing only long enough to glance at the plaques by his door. Thirteen times he’d been voted Grower of the Year and his advice was still sought out by competitors on a regular basis. It didn’t matter that he only occasionally came into the office, or that he’d been semi-retired for ten years. He was still the face of the Belye Nochi orchard, the man who had pioneered Golden Delicious apples in the early sixties, Granny Smiths in the seventies, and championed the Braeburn and Fuji in the nineties. His designs for cold storage had revolutionized the business and helped make it possible to export the very best apples to world markets.She had had a part to play in the company’s growth and success, to be sure. Under her leadership, the cold storage ware house had been expanded and a big part of their business was now storing fruit for other growers. She’d turned the old roadside apple stand into a gift shop that sold hundreds of locally made craft items, specialty foods, and Belye Nochi memorabilia. At this time of year—the holidays—when train-loads of tourists arrived in Leavenworth for the world-famous tree-lighting ceremony, more than a few found their way to the gift shop.The first thing she did was pick up the phone to call her youngest daughter. It was just past ten in Tennessee.“Hello?” Maddy grumbled.“Good morning,” Meredith said brightly. “It sounds like someone slept in.”“Oh. Mom. Hi. I was up late last night. Studying.”“Madison Elizabeth,” was all Meredith had to say to make her point.Maddy sighed. “Okay. So it was a Lambda Chi party.”“I know how fun it all is, and how much you want to experience every moment of college, but your first final is next week. Tuesday morning, right?”“Right.”“You have to learn to balance schoolwork and fun. So get your lily-white ass out of bed and get to class. It’s a life skill—partying all night and still getting up on time.”“The world won’t end if I miss one Spanish class.”“Madison.”Maddy laughed. “Okay, okay. I’m getting up. Spanish 101, here I come. Hasta la vista . . . ba-by.”Meredith smiled. “I’ll call on Thursday and find out how your speech went. And call your sister. She’s stressed out about her organic chemistry test.”“Okay, Mom. I love you.”“Love you, too, princess.”Meredith hung up the phone feeling better. For the next three hours, she threw herself into work. She was rereading the latest crop report when her intercom buzzed.“Meredith? Your dad is on line one.”“Thanks, Daisy.” She picked up the call. “Hi, Dad.”“Mom and I were wondering if you could come to the house for lunch today.”“I’m swamped here, Dad—”“Please?”Meredith had never been able to deny her father. “Okay. But I have to be back by one.”“Excellent,” he said, and she could hear the smile in his voice.She hung up and went back to work. Lately, with production up and demand down, and costs for both export and transportation skyrocketing, she oft en spent her days putting out one fire after another, and today was no exception. By noon, a low-grade stress headache had crawled into the space at the base of her skull and begun to growl. Still, she smiled at her employees as she left her office and walked through the cold warehouse.In less than ten minutes, she pulled up in front of her parents’ garage.The house was like something out of a Russian fairy tale, with its turretlike two-story veranda and elaborate fretwork trim, especially this time of year, when the eaves and railings glittered with Christmas lights. The hammered copper roof was dulled today by the gray winter weather, but on a bright day it shone like liquid gold. Surrounded by tall, elegant poplar trees and situated on a gentle rise that overlooked their valley, this house was so famous that tourists oft en stopped to photograph it.Leave it to her mother to build something so absurdly out of place. A Russian dacha, or summer house, in Western Washington State. Even the orchard’s name was absurd. Belye Nochi.White Nights indeed. The nights here were as dark as new asphalt.Not that Mom cared about what was around her. She got her way, that was all. Whatever Anya Whitson wanted, her husband gave to her, and apparently she’d wanted a fairy-tale castle and an orchard with an unpronounceable Russian name.Meredith knocked and went inside. The kitchen was empty; a big pot of soup simmered on the stove.In the living room, light spilled through the two-story rounded wall of windows at the north end of the room—the famous Belye Nochi turret. Wood floors gleamed with the golden beeswax that Mom insisted on using, even though it turned the floors into a skating rink if you dared to walk in stockinged feet. A huge stone fireplace dominated the center wall; clustered around it was a grouping of richly upholstered antique sofas and chairs. Above the fireplace hung an oil painting of a Russian troika—a romantic-looking carriage drawn by matching horses—sailing through a field of snow. Pure Doctor Zhivago. To her left were dozens of pictures of Russian churches, and below them was her mother’s “Holy Corner,” where a table held a display of antique icons and a single candle that burned year-round.She found her father in the back of the room, alongside the heavily decorated Christmas tree, in his favorite spot. He lay stretched out on the burgundy mohair cushions of the ottoman bed, reading. His hair, what he had left of it at eighty-five, stuck out from his pink scalp in white tuft s. Too many de cades in the sun had blotched and pleated his skin and he had a basset-hound look even when he was smiling, but the sad countenance fooled no one. Everyone loved Evan Whitson. It was impossible not to.At her entrance, his face lit up. He reached out and squeezed her hand tightly, then let go. “Your mom will be so glad to see you.”Meredith smiled. It was the game they’d played for years. Dad pretended that Mom loved Meredith and Meredith pretended to believe him. “Great. Is she upstairs?”“I couldn’t keep her out of the garden this morning.”Meredith wasn’t surprised. “I’ll get her.”She left her father in the living room and walked through the kitchen to the formal dining room. Through the French doors, she saw an expanse of snow-covered ground, with acres of dormant apple trees in the distance. Closer, beneath the icicle-draped branches of a fifty-year-old magnolia tree, was a small rectangular garden defined by antique wrought-iron fencing. Its ornate gate was twined with brown vines; come summer, that gate would be a profusion of green leaves and white flowers. Now it glittered with frost.And there she was: her eighty-something-year-old mother, bundled up in blankets, sitting on the black bench in her so-called winter garden. A light snow began to fall; tiny flakes blurred the scene into an impressionistic painting where nothing looked solid enough to touch. Sculpted bushes and a single birdbath were covered in snow, giving the garden a strange, otherworldly look. Not surprisingly, her mother sat in the middle of it all, motionless, her hands clasped in her lap.As a child it had scared Meredith—all that solitude in her mother—but as she got older it had begun to embarrass, then irritate her. A woman of her mother’s age had no business sitting alone in the cold. Her mother claimed it was because of her ruined vision, but Meredith didn’t believe that. It was true that her mother’s eyes didn’t process color—she saw only white and black and shades of gray—but that had never struck Meredith, even as a girl, as a reason for staring at nothing.She opened the door and went out into the cold. Her boots sank in the ankle-deep snow; here and there, crusty patches crunched underneath and more than once she almost slipped. “You shouldn’t be out here, Mom,” she said, coming up beside her. “You’ll catch pneumonia.”“It takes more cold than this to give me pneumonia. This is barely below freezing.”Meredith rolled her eyes. It was the sort of ridiculous comment her mother always made. “I’ve only got an hour for lunch, so you’d better come in now.” Her voice sounded sharp in the soft ness of the falling snow, and she winced, wishing she had rounded her vowels more, tempered her voice. What was it about her mother that brought out the worst in her? “Did you know he invited me for lunch?”“Of course,” her mother said, but Meredith heard the lie in it.Her mother rose from the bench in a single fluid motion, like some ancient goddess used to being revered and adored. Her face was remarkably smooth and wrinkle-free, her skin flawless and almost translucent. She had the kind of bone structure that made other women envious. But it was her eyes that defined her beauty. Deep-set and fringed by thick lashes, they were a remarkable shade of aqua flecked with bits of gold. Meredith was sure that no one who had seen those eyes ever forgot them. How ironic it was that eyes of such remarkable hue were unable to see color.Meredith took her mother’s elbow and led her away from the bench; only then, when they were walking, did she notice that her mother’s hands were bare, and turning blue.“Good God. Your hands are blue. You should have on gloves in this cold—”“You do not know cold.”“Whatever, Mom.” Meredith bustled her mother up the back steps and into the warmth of the house. “Maybe you should take a bath to warm up.”“I do not want to be warm, thank you. It is December fourteenth.”“Fine,” Meredith said, watching her shivering mother go to the stove to stir the soup. The ragged gray wool blanket fell to the floor in a heap around her.Meredith set the table, and for a few precious moments there was noise in the room, an approximation of a relationship, at least.“My girls,” Dad said, coming into the kitchen. He looked pale and slight, his once-wide shoulders whittled down to nothing by weight loss. Moving forward, he put a hand on each woman’s shoulder, bringing Meredith and Mom in close. “I love it when we’re together for lunch.”Mom smiled tightly. “As do I,” she said in that clipped, accented voice of hers.“And me,” Meredith said.“Good. Good.” Dad nodded and went to the table.Mom brought a tray of still-warm feta cheese corn bread slices, drizzled with butter, put a piece on each plate, and then brought over bowls of soup.“I walked the orchard this morning,” Dad said.Meredith nodded and took a seat beside him. “I guess you noticed the back of Field A?”“Yep. That hillside’s been giving us some trouble.”“I’ve got Ed and Amanda on it. Don’t worry about the harvest.”“I wasn’t, actually. I was thinking of something else.”She sipped her soup; it was rich and delicious. Homemade lamb meatballs in a savory saffron broth with silken egg noodles. If she didn’t exercise extreme caution, she’d eat it all and have to run another mile this afternoon. “Oh, yeah?”“I want to change that field to grapes.”Meredith slowly lowered her spoon. “Grapes?” Excerpted from Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.

Copyright © 2010 by Kristin Hannah.

Published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Reading Group Guide

Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn't know her mother?

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller 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 falls 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.

Reading Group Questions for WINTER GARDEN by Kristin Hannah

1. This novel explores a complicated and strained relationship between two sisters. Do you think Meredith is justified in being so angry with Nina? In what ways are the sisters different and in what ways are they alike?

2. Meredith and Nina are both reluctant to let the men in their lives help them through a difficult time, yet both are suffering from the grief caused by the death of their father. Do you think this is something they've inherited from their mother? In what other ways are they similar to their mother? Do you think it's impossible to avoid becoming like the people who raised you?

3. Anya Whitson is color blind and cannot see the colors in her winter garden. Why do you think the author gave the character this particular trait? In what ways is it a metaphor for what Anya has gone through in her life? Do you believe it is a physiological blindness or a psychological one?

4. One of the themes in this book is female solidarity and strength during hard times. Nina witnesses women in Namibia, Africa holding hands and laughing, even though their country has been ravaged by famine and warfare. Their bond impenetrable. Why do you think she's so interested in this theme? How else does this theme play out throughout the novel? How does understanding her mother's life inform Nina's view of her work?

5. Memory is an important theme in Winter Garden. Meredith often regrets--when looking at old family photos taken without her--that she was often off organizing or obsessing over details, while everyone else was living in the moment, creating memories. How common is this for women and mothers? What memories keep your family together?

6. As a child in Leningrad, Anya learned that it was dangerous to express emotions. That in doing so she would be putting what was left of her family at risk with the secret police. But now, with Meredith and Nina, her inability to express emotion is driving them apart, destroying the family she has now. How has Anya passed down this legacy to her daughters? How has it harmed their own relationships?

7. Food is an important element in this novel. Obviously, Anya loves to cook. Why doesn't she teach this to her daughters?

8. Jeff tells Meredith that "words matter." What are some examples of this throughout the story? How have words saved and harmed each of these characters' lives? How has silence saved and harmed each of these characters' lives? How do words—the telling of the fairy tale—change their individual and collective perceptions of who they are?

9. When Anya, Meredith and Nina watch the man carving the totem pole in Alaska in memory of his deceased son, Meredith realizes that Anya's fairytale has served the same function as this man's sculpture. It is a symbol of loss, a way to sublimate the pain of grief, to heal. In what other ways did Anya heal by telling her daughters the fairy tale? In what ways did Meredith and Anya heal?

10. Anya is an unsympathetic character throughout much of the book. How did your perception of her change as the fairy tale unfolded? Did you end up sympathizing with her, or even liking her? Or do you feel that her treatment of her daughters was inexcusable, regardless of the hardships she had faced in her life? How do you think you would have fared in Leningrad under the siege? Was Anya heroic in Leningrad, or a failure?

11. It isn't until Nina and Meredith discover who their mother is that they are able to discover who they are. What do they find out about themselves? How do you think their perception of their own childhoods will change now that they know the truth behind their mother's story?

12. Winter Garden teaches us that it is never too late to say "I love you." Meredith and Nina waited all of their lives to hear it from their mother. Sasha waited until his death for Anya to return. What has this novel taught us about the bonds of family and the strength of love?

13. How did you feel about the ending?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Winter Garden 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1310 reviews.
GrannnyJude More than 1 year ago
This was my first time reading Kristen Hannah and I was absolutely mesmerized by this story and the way she portrayed the characters. It was a heartwrenching story of a time in history that changed so many lives and gave us a picture of how it changed a family forever. I was not able to put the book down once I started it and was drawn into the intrigue of what the secret of Anya's life was and what had turned her so cold. Kristen Hannah's storytelling in this novel give us a close decription of the connection between families and how love can prevail. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great story and has time to curl up and enjoy this book.
Leah-books More than 1 year ago
Great story with great likeable characters. The winter garden is Kristin Hannah's best book.
retromom More than 1 year ago
Great book about two sisters who grow up thinking their mother hates them. When their father passes they promise him that they will take care of their mother and make her tell them a childhood fairy tale that she has kept to herself for many years. In doing so they learn who their mother is and much about the women they have become. A very heartwarming read. Kleenex necessary! I love Kristin Hannah's stories. They are always touching!
poosie More than 1 year ago
In this beautiful book, the reader is brought into the lives of three women. On the bank of the Columbia River, there is a huge house that gives the reader the feel of a fairytale,that is sitting in an ice-covered apple orchard. Living inside are twelve-year-old girl named Meredith Whitson and her sister, Nina. Meredith wants only one thing in life, just as her sister does, to make their mother show some semblance of love and affection toward them. The only kindness their mother shows them is when she tells them fairy tales in the evening before they go to sleep. Meredith grows up and marries Jeff and they have two children. Meredith works hard at the apple orchard for her beloved father. She is the responsible one, standing by her father's side and taking care of everyone she knows. But she is constantly sad. She's tried very hard to be the best wife and mother, but the solitude she feels in her heart is breaking her marriage apart. Nina becomes a little wild. Her life is spent as a photo-journalist for magazines like The National Geographic. Wherever there is war,or strife, Nina runs to that place and snaps her photos of human atrocities. Nina, unlike her sister, is constantly running from love, from life, throwing herself into harm's way in order to avoid the past. When their father grows old, he begs his two beloved daughters to get to know their mother, to give her a chance. The daughter's make a solemn vow to try and then find themselves back in the house in the apple orchard, coercing their cold-hearted mother into revealing who she really is and why she has hated them all their lives. Anya, their mother, is a woman who spends all her time sitting in her small, cold winter garden, on a frost-covered bench full of icicles. She is suffering from a heartbreaking past that she doesn't know how to talk about. She has blamed herself for years for the life she left behind in Russia when she married their father and moved to the States, finding peace in the arms of the man who loved her. Together, the three women sit and begin to open up about their lives. Kristin Hannah reveals the full story of one of the fairytales Anya had told the girls as children, centering around a peasant and a prince,unveiliing what she holds deep inside her. This is a woman who has lived in a constant state of regret and remorse, unable to share her secrets to her daughters. This is truly captivating and will hold your compete attention until you read the last page!
CHEFFYBEARY More than 1 year ago
I have read every book that Kristin has written. This may be one of the most touching and emotion provoking books that I have recently read. Don't won't be surprised if this one becomes a film. For daughters and mothers without a doubt!
wheeze More than 1 year ago
I have read almost every book Kristin Hannah wrote, and Winter Garden was a disappointment to me. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the historical background work on Anya's life, it was very interesting to see what she went though, and why she was the way she is now. yet the book seem to drag to me, it took about 11 chapters too long to get to the point. The end completely ruined it for me. Way too cheesy!! Reminded me of bad romance novel. Life definately isn't a fairy tale. I also had a hard time figuring out why they had to do to that certain house in Alaska. I had to read that section three times to figure it out. I hope the next book Hannah writes, she goes back to her normal style of writing.
_paige_ More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was a nice escape from everyday life. I learned a lot about what the poor people of Russia really went through during this very difficult time period. The characters were strong and really endured things I can't imagine having to go through. I would recommend this book to everyone! Enjoy~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first time reading Kristin Hannah's books. I fell in love with this book. It is the type of book when you read the last page you wish there is more and not the ending. I cried, laughed, said the "I can't believe it" out loud. I was reading on the plane on a trip and started crying on the plane, but not for sorrow, but happy tears. When you start to read this book, make sure you have time to finish, because you will not want to put it down! I had to a couple times and couldn't wait till I got back to the book. She is so decriptive with her characters. From beginning to end you will be surprised. How does one think of such a story to write will always amaze me, because this story was more than just fiction. This story could have actually happened, which is just one of the reasons it was an excellent book. It actually had me researching my history on Lenningrad during the war. I am definately going to read her other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first time reading a book by Kristin Hannah and i must say i absolutely loved WINRER GARDEN. I was on vacation and decided not to go away. So i picked up WINTER GARDEN @ the supermarket spontaneously and did not put down the book for two days. I may have not went away physically but mentally and emotionally i was lost in WINTER GARDEN.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say that I think this book was amazing. I have read several of Kristin Hannah's books. I have really enjoyed the last few. Winter Garden is the kind of book that takes you somewhere completely different than you expect. I highly recommend this book for a read that is unique, detailed, touching...the kind of book you just can't put down.
ambrize More than 1 year ago
WOW. I just finished this book in tears. What an amazing story, weaving history and present times with fluidity. I definitely recommend reading Winter Garden.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned so much about the unspeakable terror and poverty that the Russians endured . The author shows clearly how this early experience continues to destroy lives, even after they are clearly out of danger. What a creative way to show charecter development, history , and family relationships ! I highly recommend this book .
librarygirlCG More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've ever of my top five favorites! I picked it up last Saturday and could not put it down. There are two stories within the of the present day, estranged family and one of the mother's trials, tribulations, loves and family as a young girl in war-torn Russia. As the present day family struggles to come together, the telling of the mother's story in Russia brings them all together as a family with a surprise and heart-wrenching ending. You must have the kleenex nearby at the end. The story of the mother's life in Russia is very interesting and heartbreaking at the same time. The 'mother' character is someone I would like to know. This is the first Kristin Hannah book I've read and now I want to read her others. I just hope they are as good.
3MP More than 1 year ago
Kristin Hannah did a great job in telling this story. Taking a real life historical event and turing it in to a story that bleeds joy, heartache and strength. Russia's history has always been a violent one up until recentally, the fact that she could tell bring historical issues to light in such an uplifing book is remarable. The storry of two daughter learning about their mother's past to explain so much about not only her but also themselves. A woman who can endure so much loss in ones life and still have the strength go on is truely inspiring. To loss one child would be hard enough, but to think that you had lost the other one and the love of your life also in a matter of days would be unbareable, and Hannah really showed the pain she went through. Then wrapping the story up with happiness, love and warmth was the best way to end the story. I will be recommending this to all of my friends.
MBFF More than 1 year ago
I finished WINTER GARDEN last night and it was AWESOME!!! We are having our BOOK CLUB over this book tonight and I can't wait to discuss it! I know I will be thinking of the characters in this book often. It was an emotional journey and makes you think of your own life and how fortunate we are to live in the times that we do. It also makes you this of how you would react if you were put in Vera's position.
JUSTINBIEBERLOVER More than 1 year ago
This book is...moving. It is a beautiful story of love and loss, but with a unique twist. It's something I didn't expect, especially from Kristin Hannah whom I have read a few times before. The ending really pulled at my heart strings with Vera and Sasha, but I won't give it away. It's really a story inside of a story, inside of a story. I really do reccomend this book to someone looking for a good read. Be careful though and stick it all the way through, it kind of drags until it really picks up and is a page turner. Well done! IT really is a must-read, especially if you've read Kristin Hannah before, it's much different than her usual style.
terrylazar More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't have read this book if a neighbor hadn't lent it to me. Crime and Mystery usually end up on my shopping list. This is the first book I have read by the author and it certainly won't be the last. I have never cried while reading a book, but this one tugged at the heart strings. I read it in one night, staying up until I was finished. I found both sisters to be self centered in their own way, but due to their childhood, how could they not be? Their mother's story was so heartbreaking. I'm not sure I could have survived the loss of 2 children, a husband, then go on in the harsh life she was handed. A very powerful and heartwrenching story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Winter Garden is a slow moving book, that at it's heart is about a misunderstood 'cold' mother, and two daughters who are sorely missing their father. The father was the one who had made the family work, and when he dies, it seems there is little left. Predictably, there is more to the story, and when all is uncovered, the story really is amazing. All the characters were pretty well developed and I enjoyed their progression. The only character who left me confused was the 'loving' father who somehow left all these connections undone. How could he have loved everyone so long and so much but never have done anything other than let it sit. That seemed suspect to me. I recommend this for a rainy day.
mytwocents310 More than 1 year ago
In July of 2008 I read my first Kristin Hannah Book. - "Firefly Lane". I absolutely loved it and was hooked on Hannah from that day forward. I have since read twelve of her books and couldn't believe that she would find a way to top "Firefly". "Mystic Lake" ranked second for me and "True Colors", a fast third, but I have to say "Winter Garden was not only the best Kristin Hannah, but one of the best books to come along in a a long time. It was slow initially but once it took off, I was mesmerized by Anya's fairy tale. The book within the book. I can hardly wait to read another one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED THIS BOOK! It was a beautiful story, I could not put it down. The characters, the setting, the romance, the sorrow, all put together so well. I would highly recommend this to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure when I started reading, but found out quickly that I couldn't put it down. The whole story is a journey of understanding, grief, love, and coping. One of the best books I've ever read, and I've read thousands. What a great writer!! It doesn't feel like fiction at all. My tissue box is empty but I am full of enrichment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just another amazing kristin hannah book. She manages to make me cry every time. Highly reccomend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how she captures the pain and heartaches of motherhood then takes it to a whole other level. I was totally shock at the end.
Laura Corrigan More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book - beginning to end. I have recommended it numerous times. This story made me laugh and cry; popped into my thoughts for days after it was finished; opened my eyes to historical events that I had not given much thought to. I have read hundreds of books - but this one has stayed with me.... Beautifully written.