Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (The audio that caused my meltdown in the kitchen)

Sisters Meredith and Nina have grown apart once they reached adulthood.  Meredith took over the family business and raised a family, while Nina followed her dreams to traveling the world as a photojournalist.  When their doting father suddenly becomes ill and dies the sisters world is rocked to the core.  As a dying wish, their father had made the girls promise to spend time with their Russian mother, who has never been the warm motherly type.

As the girls try to come together on a decision of what to do, their mother, Anya, starts to act oddly – leaving burners on in the house and even pealing the wallpaper off the walls.  Anya starts to share fairy tales that she used to tell when the girls were little and through these tales, the girls discover the stories are not stories at all but the facts of Anya’s life growing up in war-torn Russ.  In amazement of this new discovery, Meredith and Nina decide to help their mother uncover the truth of her tragic past, in the hopes of understanding more about her as well as themselves. 

I wonder what a winter garden would look like...

Kristen Hannah is one of those author’s whose book covers draw me in and I always plan to read … and then rarely do.  In fact out of all of her attractive looking books, the only other one I have read in Firefly Lane with my book club a few years back.  (I remember I was in Honduras on a bus when that book came to its rocky ending that left me in tears)

SO here I am again with Kristen Hannah with probably the least likely choice of all her books – Winter Garden.  Why?  Because winter is my absolute least favorite time of year…. (however… I do like gardens?)  But of course none of this random ramblings has anything to do with the book….

Winter Garden started slow for me.  The two sisters thing and dysfunctional family synopsis has been done and done and done again.  I listened halfheartedly taking in all the facts but not really engaged. 

Then the audio suddenly took a turn to the “holy wah” when Anya started detailing her story of growing up in Russia…. suddenly I was glued to my kitchen, unwilling to shut the audio off, or leave the room I was folding laundry on my kitchen table and cleaning kitchen counters, and straightening seasonings in the cupboards – all to keep on listening. 

It all came to a tearful fully engaged version of me as the story unfolded into what I could only refer to as Kristen Hannah working her magic of story telling. I literally had tears rolling down my face as I heard the story pour out of Anya.

In recap… the first half of the book was meh…. the second half…. a rollercoaster of emotions that has left me wondering what I should choose next of Kristen Hannah’s books.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Winter Garden

I purchased this audio from Amazon

34 thoughts on “Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah (The audio that caused my meltdown in the kitchen)

  1. I have always wanted to read her books, mostly because of the covers.

    This one is at the top of my tbr pile (but just because its at the top, doesn’t mean it is next, lol)

  2. I’ve only read Firefly Lane but this one sounds good despite the rocky start. Every once in a while you need a book that will reduce you to a puddle in your kitchen 🙂

  3. I don’t find family dysfunction overdone…in fact, there are so many ways to show twists and turns in family drama, that I’m constantly surprised and captivated.

    Now…vampires are overdone. LOL

    But as far as this book is concerned, I agreed with your assessment about the first half. I found the story from Russia had me turning pages…rapidly.

  4. I haven’t read Winter Garden, but I read a few of Hannah’s books last summer and was practically inconsolable after each of them! Holy cow, she knows how to make her readers cry! I agree with you, though, that she takes plots that seem to be overdone but she puts a twist on them that makes them stand out. I’ll have to check this one out for my newer, longer commute. 😉

  5. I love Kristin Hannah’s books but I almost stopped reading this halfway through because I could not get into it. But wow, the second half was so good. I completely agree with you!!

  6. That cover is great as is the picture of the beautiful winter garden.

    For personal reasons i love winter – and i think i might have to read this book!

    Thanks for another great review 😀

  7. The first was very tedious for me to get through, but I flew through the second part! The story was so much more poignant and touching, and I imagine it was even more so in audio format. Ultimately, though, I was too mad at the sisters and their stereotypical roles from the first part, so I didn’t really enjoy the book overall. Glad you did, though!

  8. I have some of her books but have never even opened them. They do look pretty, but I never quite feel enough of a push to actually pick one up to read. Do you think they all lead to tears at some point?

  9. Wow, I haven’t been in to audio books because I have to find something to do with just one hand and I would get distracted by my grandson running around but am adding the printed version to my wish list today!!!

  10. Sounds like an intriguing premise. I also read Firefly Lane a couple of summers ago…and bawled my eyes out three different times! I loved your description of yourself unwilling to leave the kitchen and finding tasks to do so you could keep listening! I listen to audios in my kitchen, too, though that has taken a backseat this summer with my kids and their friends around most of the time.

    Thanks for the review!


  11. I love it when a book can really hook you in like that so that all you want to do is continue one. I also love the cover of this one. It has been on my list for a while — I have seen quite a few rather positive reviews out there for this one.

  12. After I read her Night Road this year, I determined to get more of her titles on my shelf .. this is the one that’s there, and I haven’t gotten to it yet, but plan to soon. Emotional reads are great; and her writing in Night Road just pulled me right in. Thanks for the review!

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