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Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden (2010)

by Kristin Hannah

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1,334935,813 (3.96)53
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    Ugly Ways by Tina McElroy Ansa (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both books feature a mother who pays more attention to her garden than she does to her adult children.

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Meredith and Nina are as different as two sisters can be. Meredith stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family's orchard business, while Nina followed her dream of traveling the world and becoming a photojournalist. When their father falls ill, they find themselves together again, along with their cold, disapproving mother Anya. The one connection the daughters had with their mother was the Russian fairly tale she told them sometimes at night. On his deathbed, their father makes Anya promise to tell the tale one more time, all the way to the end.

The fairy tale turns out to be the true of Anya's life in Leningrad from World War II, and the sisters finally learn the terrible and terrifying secrets their mother has been hiding all these years.

The first half of this book feels like it drags in spots, but if you stick with it, it's worth it; the second half of the story is very gripping and emotional, and a real page-turner. I have read a lot of historical fiction taking place during World War II, in various parts of the world, but this is the first time I've read something set in Russia, and how the war affected its ordinary citizens, and the terrible hardships they had to endure. It's also a well written story about mother-daughter relationships, which I believe, among all the relationships you can have, is often one of the most complicated ones. ( )
  mom2acat | Aug 12, 2015 |
rabck from love2cook; disappointing. Book was good, but could have been better. Mom lived through the siege on Leningrad during WWII, a location that I didn't know about. She's always been cold to her two daughters, who struggle with relationship problems of their own. Mom finally tells them the story of her time in Leningrad through a series of fairy tales. Ending was way too trite - author could have done better by leaving some loose ends. ( )
  nancynova | May 27, 2015 |
Winter Garden tells the story of the Whitson family, mother Anya and her adult daughters Nina and Meredith. Anya has always been a cold, distant mother and a lack of maternal affection has impacted many aspects of her daughters' lives. The only way Anya ever really connected with her children was by telling them a special fairy tale, but that tradition ended when the girls were young. Due to Anya's distance, Nina and Meredith relied on their father for guidance and affection. When their father suddenly dies, the family is thrown into turmoil. Meredith retreats into routine, Nina runs away and Anya begins exhibiting troubling signs of memory loss and disorientation. Meredith attempts to put Anya in a retirement home, Nina demands that they first fulfill their father's dying wish and listen to Anya's fairy tale all the way through. As the fairy tale progresses it becomes clear that it is not just a story set in a mythical kingdom, it is the story of Anya's life as a young woman. The tale reveals that Anya, whose past was always a secret, survived the Siege of Leningrad during World War II. As Nina and Meredith hear more of the story, the women grow closer and Anya's daughters begin to understand how the tragedy and privation of her youth caused her to become the distant mother they know. Soon the women are forging new bonds and working to rebuild their damaged relationships. This book tells a story of the complex relationships between mothers and daughters and shows the ways in which history and past experiences can have a visceral impact on the present. Most of all, Winter Garden is the story of Anya, a complicated, fierce and deeply damaged woman who dominated this book. Her story is well worth reading. This book should appeal to those who like stories about families and/or World War II.

  redwoodpsa | May 8, 2015 |
I'm a sucker for stories about the Russian Revolution and the subsequent years, so it's no surprise that I love this book. Hannah creates some truly moving characters in this novel - none perfect, but all human. ( )
  jwarbler | Jan 31, 2015 |
An emotionally gripping, heart tugging and powerful story with multiple relationships about love and the choices we make. I cried a few times throughout. Meredith and Nina. at their fathers death bed. promise to listen to their estranged mothers 'fairy tale' about war-torn Leningrad under Stalin's rule. ( )
  Dawn772 | Jan 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Resisting the urge to skip ahead so I could find out what happens was a serious problem with this novel. Even though there are a number of stories told in this novel; Meredith's struggles with her marriage, Nina's struggles with love and family, Anya's struggles with her past, and Veronika's story in Russia, everything flows so smoothly.

What starts out as a story of three struggling women turns into a beautiful story... one that literally brough tears to my eyes. I found that this book allowed me to laugh, cry, yell and hurt and a book that does that is a very powerful book.

Overall, this book needs to be read... it deserves a place on anyone's bookshelf! Well done Kristin Hannah, I will be reading many more of your books in the future!
For this reader, it doesn't work.
The Whitson family is rocked by the sudden death of patriarch Evan, a warm, loving man who doted on his two adult daughters, Meredith and Nina, and his reserved Russian wife, Anya. Meredith, who runs the family business, and Nina, a photojournalist whose job takes her to war zones around the world, have never been able to connect with their cold, forbidding mother. When Anya begins to act strangely, Meredith thinks she belongs in a nursing home, but Nina decides to try to fulfill her father's dying wish and get her mother to tell her and Meredith the elaborate fairy tales she used to share with them. Anya is initially reluctant, but once she begins, Nina realizes these tales are actually the story of Anya's life in Stalinist Leningrad. Meredith and Nina decide to attempt to uncover the truth about their mother's tragic past in the hope of understanding her, and themselves.
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Prologue: 1972
To my husband Benjamin: As Always. To my Mother: I wish I had listened to more of your light stories when I had the chance. To my dad and Debbie: Thanks for the trip of a lifetime and memories that will last even longer. And to my beloved Tucker: I am so proud of you; your journey is just beginning.
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On the banks of the mighty Columbia River, in this icy season, when every breath became visable, the orchard called Bele Nochi, was quiet. Dormant apple trees stretched as far as the eye could see.
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The dying wish of a loving father ignites a family drama that brings two sisters and their acid-tongued, Russian-born mother together in a story that reaches back to WWII Leningrad.

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