Publication Date: 2nd Feb 2010
Time/Pages: 14hrs 43mins/394
Book Source: Own Audio
Narrator: Susan Erickson
Synopsis: 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.
My Thoughts:Winter Garden is one of the most beautiful, mesmerising, heartbreaking books I've read in years. Much like the unfurling of a flower, it begins with intriguing promise and blooms into full captivating beauty.
Some reviewers have made mention of a slow start but I was enthralled from the beginning but then I do have a thing for dysfunctional family stories. When their beloved father becomes ill and dies estranged sisters Meredith and Nina and their cold, critical mother Anya are drawn together in grief but then in a journey of discovery.
Sometimes when you open the door to your mother's past you find your own future.
Winter Garden is an exquisite blend; harrowing historical fiction, love story and family saga, Kristin Hannah explores complex relationships with intimate knowledge and ties the whole package together with haunting, breathtaking intricacy.
Susan Erickson's narration was phenomenal, her Russian accents brought the story to life, I was completely spellbound, and often overwhelmed with emotion (keep the tissue box handy.)
From current day to war torn Leningrad during WWII, the dual time frame is seamlessly woven into the fabric of a Russian fairytale. I was moved beyond words at the starvation, horror and death of so many during the Seige of Leningrad. This is truly a story I won't forget.
Recommend: An emphatic yes!! What are you waiting for??
Want to know more about Kristin Hannah and her work? ... check out her website