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Winter Garden Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reissue edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312663153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312663155
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (690 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Female bonding is always good for a good cry, as Hannah (True Colors ) proves in her latest. Pacific Northwest apple country provides a beautiful, chilly setting for this family drama ignited by the death of a loving father whose two daughters have grown apart from each other and from their acid-tongued, Russian-born mother. After assuming responsibility for the family business, 40-year-old empty-nester Meredith finds it difficult to carry out her father's dying wish that she take care of her mother; Meredith's troubled marriage, her troubled relationship with her mother and her mother's increasingly troubled mind get in the way. Nina, Meredith's younger sister, takes a break from her globe-trotting photojournalism career to return home to do her share for their mother. How these three women find each other and themselves with the help of vodka and a trip to Alaska competes for emotional attention with the story within a story of WWII Leningrad. Readers will find it hard not to laugh a little and cry a little more as mother and daughters reach out to each other just in the nick of time. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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. Though the novel starts off fairly maudlin, it evolves into a gripping read, although it’s a tearjerker. Hannah’s previous books, including Firefly Lane (2008) and True Colors (2009), are tailor-made for book clubs, and her audience should find plenty to discuss in this equally enthralling entry. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Kristin Hannah was born in September 1960 in Southern California and grew up at the beach, making sand castles and playing in the surf. When she was eight years old, her father drove the family to Western Washington which they called home.

After working in a trendy advertising agency, Kristin decided to go to law school. "But you're going to be a writer" are the prophetic words she would never forget from her mother. Kristin was in her third-and final-year of law school and her mom was in the hospital, facing the end of her long battle with cancer. Kristin was shocked to discover that her mother believed she would become a writer. For the next few months, they collaborated on the worst, most clichéd historical romance ever written.

After her mom's death, she packed up all those bits and pieces of paper they'd collected and put them in a box in the back of her closet. Kristin got married and continued practicing law.

Then Kristin found out she was pregnant and was on bed rest for five months. By the time she'd read every book in the house and started asking her husband for cereal boxes to read, she knew she was a goner. That's when her husband reminded her of the book she'd started with her mom. Kristin pulled out the boxes of research material, dusted them off and began writing. By the time their son was born, she'd finished a first draft and found an obsession.

The rejections came, of course, and they stung for a while, but each one really just spurred her to try harder, work more. In 1990, Kristin got "the call," and in that moment, she went from a young mother with a cooler-than-average hobby to a professional writer, and has never looked back. In all the years between then and now, she have never lost her love of, or her enthusiasm for, telling stories. Kristin feels truly blessed to be a wife, a mother, and a writer.

Customer Reviews

Very well written and nice twist in the end.
Jean Munro
I agree that there wasn't enough character development in the main plot.
susannah
I loved this book and could not put it down when I started reading it.
krzysztof czaja

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

174 of 188 people found the following review helpful By Barb Caffrey VINE VOICE on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Winter Garden," by Kristin Hannah, is a surprising book. I say this as someone who has been deeply impressed by Ms. Hannah's writing before -- her "When Lightning Strikes" is on my short list of favorite novels to re-read often, and whenever I pick that book up, I always find something new to appreciate. So I was well aware of how vividly Ms. Hannah envisions history ("When Lightning Strikes" is a paranormal set, for the most part, in 1896), and of how fine her use of language, culture, mores, tone, and description. All of those are again on display in "Winter Garden," a more traditional straight-up family history and memoir, along with the themes of sacrifice, sisterhood, families, and secrets.

At the start of "Winter Garden," we meet two pre-teen sisters, Meredith and Nina Whitson. We see them briefly act in a play, a story their mother has told them that seems to be of a worthy, yet poor, young woman, her sister, and the prince who rescues her. But the play angers and upsets their mother, Anya, who cannot tell them why; this makes them vow never to try to please their mother again.

Then we see them as full-fledged adults -- Meredith, the nurturer, someone who takes on difficult jobs around the house and at her job without praise or fanfare and is running herself into the ground, and Nina, the prize-winning and world-renowned photojournalist, who takes on difficult jobs in various countries photographing people (mostly in war zones) and is running herself into the ground in a wholly different way. Meredith is married, with two children in college, but her marriage is in trouble because she can't communicate; Nina is in a long-term relationship but can't admit she loves her boyfriend because she isn't able to communicate.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By mzglorybe VINE VOICE on January 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...but don't give up on it. I'm glad I listened to that advice from another reviewer as I might have put it down myself. The first half lays the groundwork of the familial relationships between the main characters. Sometimes the reader will get impatient with the flawed characters, as it seems drawn out at times, therefore 4-1/2 stars from me. It is not a happy or feel good type of read. It is sad, heartbreaking, and captivating.

There have been many novels lately that flip back and forth between the past and the present, many revolving around wartime. Personally I like that, it is like reading two novels in one. We have seen this in Shanghai Girls, on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Whiskey Island, and countless others. This one gives us an intimate look at Leningrad survivors in the Russian/German war. It varies in the fact that the past is presented as a fairy tale by the Russian mother of two American born daughters. All three are strong-willed and feeling incomplete and do not relate well to each other. As adults, grief unites them and a death-bed promise forces them to face and come to know each other as well as themselves.

It starts as the two young daughters Meredith and Nina fail time and again in seeking affection from their cold, distant mother. When they were young their mother would tell them this fairy tale at night, practically the only communication they had between them at the time. It mesmerized them, leaving them wanting more, but the story telling stopped suddenly and does not continue until their adulthood when circumstances brings about the completion of the tale. In actuality the "fairy tale" is the story of their mother's young life in Russia.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Very Merry Shakespeare on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was honored to "discover" the fantastic writing of Kristin Hannah when I read Firefly Lane and True Colors. So I can not express to you how happy I was to receive this newest offering in the mail.

In this superb book, we are brought into the lives of three fantastic women. On the banks of the Columbia River, we find ourselves in a huge house that looks like something out of a fairytale, sitting in an ice-covered apple orchard named Belye Nochi. Inside the four walls of the amazing home we meet a twelve-year-old girl named Meredith Whitson. Meredith wants only one thing in life, just as her sister Nina does, to make their mother show some type 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. One of their mother's favorite tales is the story of a young peasant girl who falls in love with a prince. Meredith decides to stage a play one Christmas Eve where she, her friend, and her sister will become the characters of the fairy-tale Mom loves so much. As they take the "living-room stage" to begin, their mother turns pale and begins to scream at them. This is the last straw. That night, as Meredith and Nina are filled with anger and defeat, they realize they'll never be close to their mother no matter how hard they try; and their mother's distant - seemingly, uncaring - relationship with them is the driving force in what they both will become.

Meredith marries her friend from the play - Jeff - and they have two children. Meredith works super-hard at the apple orchard for her beloved father, making it into the greatest place on earth. She is the responsible one, standing by her father's side and taking care of everyone she knows. But she is constantly sad.
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