Throwback Thursday: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah #travelingsistersread

Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee, Its Book Talk to share some of our old favorites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago.

Today we would like to share another favorite Traveling Sisters Group read.

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Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

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.

Web_L367-4_brunette_green-eyesBrenda’s Traveling Sisters review

Winter Garden is a well layered, intriguing and powerful family saga that explores the complicated relationships between a Mother and her daughters and the two sisters. The story is told from the past through a fairy tale told by distant, cold and interesting Anya who is layered with mystery and the present as we see how the fairy tale begins to bond these women together.

Kristin Hannah cleverly and skillfully weaves an emotional fairy tale into the storyline that becomes the core of this story and we begin to see how it shaped the relationship between Anya and her daughters. We were drawn into the story through the fairy tale and it became a favorite part of the story for some of us. The imagery in the tale came to life for us and became very real. We felt many emotions as our hearts broke for the characters. Through the fairy tale, we come to know who the characters are. Brilliant!

We all really loved the discussion we had for this one and we really dug deep into the emotional depth of this story and how it made us feel. We used some discussion questions that really enhanced our discussion. It’s stories and discussions like this that really bring out the best reading experiences for me.

The ending pushed this non-crier to choke up and fighting back the tears. I will leave you all with this quote from the story and we all highly recommend reading Kristin Hannah at her best with this one.

“Joy and sadness were part of the package, the trick, perhaps was to not let yourself feel all of it but to hold on to the joy just a little more tightly because you never knew when a strong heart could just give out.”

Web_L323-2_brunette_green eyesFrom Jan’s review

These three women slowly reconnect with one another during a trip to Alaska and the telling of their mother’s story. There’s a lot of universal truths contained within the pages of this book. So much of the personality quirks of each of the women is explained by delving into the dynamics of the family relationships. Lies and secrets can destroy relationships, but understanding a person’s story gives clarity into their seemingly inconceivable ways of behaving in the present, bringing empathy and understanding.

I confess that I felt differently about some of the characters by the end of the novel than I did at the beginning. And Anya’s story demonstrates that we can be sad for the lost years but it is never too late to right wrongs and mend broken relationships. The ending had me sobbing, even though it was tied up a little too predictable and neatly with a couple of unlikely coincidences. But I didn’t care. I needed that ending.

Web_L301-3_brunette_brown eyesFrom Nikki’s review

Alternating between past and present, this story reminds us that we can’t jump to assumptions. It reminds us that there is always way more happening than what’s presented on the surface. It reminds us about the importance of communication and the difficulties of bearing those pieces of ourselves that we just don’t want others to see. The story is beautifully written, and the journey is one of love, heartbreak, and pain. But in taking that ride, the sisters and their mother not only discover more about one another, they find themselves along the way too.


Have you read this one?  Want to read it? Drop us a comment!!  We would love to hear from you!!

21 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah #travelingsistersread”

    1. I have yet to read this one, Jonetta and think I should very soon as it looks like this was an enjoyable read for all! I’m happy to hear it was one of your favourites too!

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    1. I really liked the Great Alone and loved Nighingale! You should read Nighingale. I also want to read Firefly Lane. We have been meaning to do that one as a group read but it keeps getting pushed aside. Lol. We should read it!

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    2. Rose – you are in for a treat if that’s the only KH book you have read so far! Winter Garden, The Nightingale, and the list goes on! Hope you get a chance to read those beautiful books!! 😊💜

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    1. Thank you, Diane! I loved Nighingale! I have a few more I want to read. I love how emotional there are. Night Road was my first one I read by Hannah. I loved that one to and was an emotional mess after that one.

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  1. I read Winter Garden earlier this year and loved it. I thought the way Kristin Hannah wove the story of Anya’s early life through a fairy tale was truly inspired. My feelings about the characters changed as the story progressed and I grew to understand them better. It shows how easy it is to judge people inaccurately. As in real life, everyone is carrying a burden that no one else knows about but that impacts their lives, behavior and relationships.

    I agree that the ending was slightly contrived, but I still loved it.

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    1. I am so glad you loved this one too! It’s so great when we can see characters develope and we change the way we feel about them. I really thought Hannah showed that too in this story.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

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  2. This is one that I have had on my bookshelf for several years. I bought it at a booksale and have not gotten to it. Your reviews are amazing, there seems to be a lot to learn from this one.

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