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Winter Garden    by Kristin Hannah order for
Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2011 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Winter Garden is the story of the Whitson family who live in the Pacific Northwest, in the state of Washington. Evan and Anya own and operate a very successful apple orchard. Their eldest daughter Meredith works in the family business. With her two daughters away from home attending college, Meredith immerses herself in work to try and forget about her troubled marriage. Nina, the couple's younger daughter, is a single photojournalist who travels the world and avoids making personal commitments.

When Evan falls ill, he insists that his daughters ask Anya to tell her story to them in its entirety. When the girls were growing up they had a close, loving bond with their father, but felt unloved by their mother. Anya, born in Russia, was very cold and distant to her girls, except when she told them fairy tales. Now that they are grown, they are beginning to realize that the fairy tales were actually accounts of Anya growing up in war torn Leningrad during the second World War.

The story unfolds in parallels between past and the present. Nina has returned home to help Meredith care for Anya after Evan's death. Anya has lost her will to live and her mind is beginning to wander. Meredith and Nina try to rebuild the relationship they had when they were young, while Meredith deals with a husband who has had enough. Prompted by her daughters, Anya begins to tell of her life in Russia. The sisters hear of the atrocities of war, starvation, death, and the terror of small children being taken from their parents. Death and grief are beginning to bring three strong, independent women together.

In Winter Garden these weaves of past and present come to a dramatic conclusion. Only after hearing Anya's story can all three women begin to accept and heal. It is a story that is hard to forget.

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