The Four Winds
Author: Kristin Hannah
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published: February 2, 2021
Audiobook: 15 hours 2 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 2- 8, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”
Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.
By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.
In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.
The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.
This was a book club selection and most likely one I would have never picked up otherwise. It was my first novel by Kristin Hannah and it will not be my last!
I never really learned about The Dust Bowl in school and never had to read The Grapes of Wrath in school, but now I think I need to. Not knowing about The Dust Bowl, when I read the book description I wasn’t interested in this one, and it was quite the surprise for me!
Hannah is so descriptive and fully brings you into the story and you feel like you are there experiencing everything with these characters! I could picture so much of what was going on while listening to it! And Julia Whelan is the narrator and she is one of my ‘will listen to’ narrators so I enjoyed this novel 1000%!
This is not an easy novel to read/listen to because life was extreme during this time. And Hannah didn’t hold anything back either! The reader sees all aspects of life on the farm and what the farmers go through. We also see Elsa’s growth as a woman and her life experiences. She’s a character that you won’t easily forget. I became so attached to Elsa as she matured into the woman she became. And she has a mother-in-law to just fall in love with!
After The Four Winds became such an unexpected ‘enjoyable’ read (it’s hard to say enjoyable with the harshness of life the characters experienced) I will be looking into Hannah’s large backlog of novels to choose from. After listening to this one, you really see how hard it was back then with the depression first and then the dust bowl, we really do have it easy these days! Women were so much tougher back then and underestimated by the men of the time! The Four Winds makes you appreciate what you have.