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The Winter Garden (Clara Vine 2) Hardcover – 13 Feb 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (13 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849839875
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849839877
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 3.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The perfect fusion of history, suspense and high romance' (The Times on Black Roses)

'A thoughtful but fast-moving novel' (Reader's Digest on Black Roses)

'This well-researched story unfolds with utterly knuckle-whitening suspense, and it was my favourite escapist read of the year' (Saga Magazine on Black Roses)

'Terrific' (Elizabeth Buchan The Sunday Times on Black Roses)

'Jane Thynne's smooth writing, sensitive understanding of the era and sharp observations combine into an excellent historical thriller' (Jessica Mann Literary Review on Black Roses)

'Fast-paced and gripping' (The Sunday Times on The Winter Garden)

'A thoroughly enjoyable read: fast-paced, atmospheric and genuinely suspenseful' (Mail on Sunday on The Winter Garden)

'Both historically fascinating and a proper thriller' (Reader's Digest on The Winter Garden)

'An absolute cracker of a read...Thynne expertly maintains the suspense, while evoking the tension of Berlin as the city gathers its strength for war' (The Times on The Winter Garden)

'A thumpingly good read with a strong denouement' (Mail on Sunday on The Winter Garden)

'So convincing one forgets that it is a piece of fiction' (The Lady on The Winter Garden)

'Pre-war Germany's atmosphere of reprehension, terror and Nazi hubris is vividly evoked in a gripping but sad tale' (Jessica Mann Literary Review on The Winter Garden)

'A tale of suspense and intrigue...Thynne's grasp of the period is first-class, and she has woven in a tender wartime love story' (Mail on Sunday on A War of Flowers)

'Darkly brooding horror hangs overGermany; an irresistible page-turner packed with historical detail and toldfrom a most unusual perspective' (Kirkus Reviews on Faith and Beauty)

‘This is the fourth of the addictive ‘Clara Vine’ novels, set in Berlin on the eve of war. Clara is a half-German British agent with access to the inner circle of Nazi wives. Portraits of women such as Magda Goebbels and Eva Braun are ruthlessly truthful, but drawn with compassion. It is early 1939, and Clara is drawn into investigating the murder of a girl at the League of Faith and Beauty finishing school. Brilliant’ (Saga magazine on Faith and Beauty)

About the Author

Jane Thynne was born in Venezuela and educated in London. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English and joined the BBC as a journalist. She has also worked at The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, as well as for numerous British magazines. She appears as a broadcaster on Radio 4. Jane is married to the writer Philip Kerr. They have three children and live in London. Find out more at connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @janethynne

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second novel featuring actress/spy Clara Vine, who first appeared in “Black Roses.” The first novel was set in 1933, but it is now 1937 and Clara, daughter of British politician and Nazi sympathiser, Sir Ronald Vine, whose mother was German and whose grandmother was Jewish, has now made a life for herself in Berlin. Clara’s Jewish ancestry is almost a great a secret as her work for British Intelligence and both must be guarded closely, for Berlin has changed for the worse since our heroine first arrived and Clara walks a delicate tightrope. She not only passes information about the Nazi elite to Archie Dyson, attaché at the British Embassy, but she also informs Joseph Goebbels of gossip which might be useful to him.

The book begins with the murder of Anna Hansen, who Clara knew previously as a dancer and an artist’s model, but who was about to marry an SS officer and was attending one of the government’s Reich Bride Schools. When Clara’s friend, journalist Mary Harker, returns from covering the Spanish Civil War, she is interested in the crime. At first, it seems the regime is covering it up as an embarrassment, but then the Gestapo become involved. What did Anna know, or do, that got her killed and why is Clara suddenly under suspicion?

This is an exciting and, I found, a much more enjoyable read than the first book – with Clara a much more rounded character.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Winter Garden is every bit as scintillating as the previous Cara Vine story Black Roses, which I devoured at a similar speed and with the same admiration and enjoyment. Thynne has clearly done a huge amount of research but it's worn lightly, and the atmosphere of pre-war Berlin is captured so well I almost believed I was there. Clara, an Anglo-German actress, is recruited as a British spy and her work in the film industry means she mixes with high-ranking Nazis including Goebbels and the Fuhrer himself. The Mitford sisters and Edward and Wallace Simpson make nasty, glittering cameo appearances which remind one of the extent to which Hitler attracted much of the the British upper class - including Clara's own father. Her endeavour - involving untangling a muder at a Nazi Bride School - is hugely risky, and my heart was in my mouth - especially in the moments when Clara lets her heart rule her head, and nearly exposes herself. An excellent, gripping read. I can't wait for the next one.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Although this is the second book in the series this reader read it as a stand-alone but will definitely be going back to read the first one.

The beginning was rather a surprise and the exactly right setting for this novel. The idea of having the female lead (Clara Vine) as an undercover spy who is for all intense and purposes a German actress was inspired and shows some of the glamour of the time. Throughout the course of the novel the author mixes real life people, or rather the Nazi elite, with the female lead and her world. In her role as cinema star she is expected to attend some parties held by these elite and even encounters the two Mitford sisters and the honeymooning Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson. These parties allow Clara to glean information for the British by listening in on the elite’s conversations.

The supposed main focus of the book took ages to come to the fore. And Clara did very little of the investigating apart from being given the victims last possession. It seemed to this reader that the author was more concerned with the historical aspects than the investigating aspects. Even when we are suddenly introduced to Mary there is still little investigation done.

Who exactly is Mary and what is her relation to Clara? She just suddenly appears. It is highly possible that this character was introduced in the previous book as there was very little told about her in this particular novel. Another person show suddenly appears without any formal introduction was Clara’s godson/son who she constantly tells us she loves. I found that he had few redeeming qualities and was more a puppet showing the effects of the Hitler Youth movement more than anything else.
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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thynne's research is clearly thorough but she can't resist over-using it: every cafe or bar a character enters is given paragraphs on its history, its clientele, the beers and pastries it was famous for and so on. The foreground, as a result, remains quite thin, most notably in the case of Clara, the greatest non-personality of the series: it feels like a cop-out to say she's an actress and always pretending as a way of masking the fact she's not fleshed out by the author.

The plot itself is unsubtle and written from our perspective with our hindsight: the Nazis are all monsters, not necessarily the dominant view of the time as is shown via the Mitfords and Wallis and Edward VIII.

Despite lots of niggles, though, I still found this an engrossing read: it could just be better than it manages to be - 3.5 stars.
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