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Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

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Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Mary Elle

Confession time! I was somewhat late to the party because Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is the very first book of hers that I’ve read.

I’m not sure exactly how I missed this author.

Well, OK. I didn’t miss her. I’ve certainly known about her for a long time, however, I neglected to read her. What can I say? I messed up:)

The question is, what was the book like?

My review of Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah will certainly answer that question for you! In fact, I’ll share my total thoughts on Winter Garden, what I liked and disliked, and then let you know if you should read it, reread it, or completely reconsider reading it.

So let’s get going.

A snowy garden scene with a picture of the book cover for winter garden by kristin hannah along with the words book review in blue boxes with white letters

Who Is Kristin Hannah?

Before I get to the actual review of Winter Garden, are you already familiar with Kristin Hannah?

She is the award-winning American author of more than 24 books at this point, a number of which have become international bestsellers.

Kristin Hannah lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. She was actually a lawyer before she became a novelist. She’s not the only lawyer turned novelist out there. I find that to be an interesting move, going from a legal career to a literary one.

Kristin Hannah is well-known for writing historical fiction but also writes what she refers to as women’s fiction that heavily features female bonding, motherhood, and the emotional strength of women.

Publisher’s Synopsis of Winter Garden By Kristin Hannah

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.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – What I Liked

There are so many things I loved about this book, that I don’t even know where to start.

The thing that first attracted me to the book was the idea that somehow, there would be a retelling of a fairy tale at some point in the book. Much to my surprise, the fairy tale was woven into the book in such a unique way, and it was really a central part of the entire book.

I also liked the way the story was told in a dual timeframe, with the earlier part of the timeframe told via the fairy tale itself.

Winter Garden is rich in Russian history, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book quite a bit.

There was a heartbreaking aspect to some of the characters, but I liked them all immensely, especially the daughters Meredith and Nina.

I thought Winter Garden explored the relationship between mothers and daughters and sisters. And this made me reflect on my own relationships with my mother and my sister.

And finally, along with the Russian history woven throughout Winter Garden, I learned about the siege of Leningrad which is really the piece of Russian history that is central to the book. I really didn’t know anything about this before I read Winter Garden, and I always like to learn something new when I read historical fiction.

This book made me Google stuff. I love it when that happens!

Honestly, this book is not short, at somewhere around 400 pages, but for me it was a fast read because I couldn’t wait to get to the next section of the fairy tale to find out what happens next.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – What I Didn’t Like

I can’t say there is anything in Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah that I didn’t like. Although I cannot give you any spoilers here, I have noticed in a few other reviews that some say the ending was sad, bad, or heartwrenching, but I cannot agree.

In one way, I guess there is a heartwrenching aspect to the ending. But for me, I would describe it as heartwarming and uplifting.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah – Read, ReRead or Reconsider?

And now, for my 3 Rs of book reviews.

Should you read, reread or reconsider reading Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah?

A Definite Read!

If you like historical fiction, especially books that take place in somewhat of a dual timeframe, you may absolutely love Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah as much as I did.

I thought this book was unique in the way that the author wove the fairytale in as part of the earlier timeframe portrayed in the book. I found this book heartwarming, uplifting, and a wonderful opportunity to consider mother, daughter, and sister relationships in any family.

This book is a treasure! And I’m going to have to delve further into reading more Kristin Hannah books as soon as possible.


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