On My Bookshelf: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

August 20, 2018

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is an incredibly powerful book featuring strong female characters just like her bestseller, The Nightingale. Both books alternate between the past and present, but Winter Garden spends much more time in the present and the past is at first presented as a story rather than fact. My heart ached for Meredith and Nina who struggle to cope with the death of their beloved father, their distant mother, and their inability to be close with their significant others. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden is one woman’s sweeping, heartbreaking story of love, loss, and redemption. At once an epic love story set in World War II Russia and an intimate portrait of contemporary mothers and daughters poised at the crossroads of their lives, it explores the heartbreak of war, the cost of survival and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. It is a novel that will haunt the reader long after the last page is turned.

1941. Leningrad, a once magical city besieged by war, cut off from aid, buried in snow. A city full of women desperate to save their children and themselves…

2000. Loss and old age have taken a terrible toll on Anya Whitson. At last, she will reach out to her estranged daughters. In a halting, uncertain voice, she begins to weave a fable about a beautiful Russian girl who lived in Leningrad a lifetime ago…

Nina and Meredith sit spellbound at their mother’s bedside, listening to a story that spans more than sixty years and moves from the terrors of war-torn Leningrad under siege to modern-day Alaska.

In a quest to uncover the truth behind the story, Nina and Meredith discover a secret so shocking, so impossible to believe, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is an incredibly powerful book featuring strong female characters just like her bestseller, The Nightingale. Both books alternate between the past and present, but Winter Garden spends much more time in the present and the past is at first presented as a story rather than fact. My heart ached for Meredith and Nina who struggle to cope with the death of their beloved father, their distant mother, and their inability to be close with their significant others. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: The Nightingale, the first of Kristin Hannah's novels I've read, is an incredibly powerful book featuring strong female characters and Winter Garden is much the same. Both books alternate between the past and present, but Winter Garden spends much more time in the present and the past is at first presented as a story rather than fact. My heart ached for Meredith and Nina who struggle to cope with the death of their beloved father, their distant mother, and their inability to be close with their significant others. Their mother Anya's tale of her past is incredibly painful, but the novel ends with a surprisingly happy twist.

Classroom application: The novel in its entirety would only be appropriate for (and likely interesting to) upper class students in high school. However, excerpts of it could be used in connection with a World War II unit to give students an understanding of what life was like in Russia during that time period. Students could also examine how at first the mother's stories about her past are presented as a fairy tale, almost like an allegory. Students could select a historical event and write an allegory conveying the message to be learned from that historical event.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Winter Garden for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is an incredibly powerful book featuring strong female characters just like her bestseller, The Nightingale. Both books alternate between the past and present, but Winter Garden spends much more time in the present and the past is at first presented as a story rather than fact. My heart ached for Meredith and Nina who struggle to cope with the death of their beloved father, their distant mother, and their inability to be close with their significant others. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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