#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · historical fiction · United States

New Release Book Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Title: The Four Winds

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published: January 27th 2021

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 400

Genres:  Fiction, Historical

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Four Winds is a deeply moving, powerful story about the strength and resilience of women and the bond between mother and daughter, by the multi-million copy number one bestselling author Kristin Hannah.

She will discover the best of herself in the worst of times . . .

Texas, 1934. Elsa Martinelli had finally found the life she’d yearned for. A family, a home and a livelihood on a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens all she and her community hold dear, Elsa’s world is shattered to the winds.

Fearful of the future, when Elsa wakes to find her husband has fled, she is forced to make the most agonizing decision of her life. Fight for the land she loves or take her beloved children, Loreda and Ant, west to California in search of a better life. Will it be the land of milk and honey? Or will their experience challenge every ounce of strength they possess?

From the overriding love of a mother for her child, the value of female friendship, and the ability to love again – against all odds, Elsa’s incredible journey is a story of survival, hope and what we do for the ones we love.


‘The four winds have blown us here, people from all across the country, to the very edge of this great land, and now, at last, we make our stand, fight for what we know to be right.’

Returning in 2021 with a major blockbuster release, The Four Winds is the latest composition from Kirstin Hannah. A rich family study and an accessible tale that offers a strong commentary on the ails of America’s past, The Four Winds is a life changing read from global bestseller Kristin Hannah.

A story that charts a difficult period in America’s history, The Four Winds travels to Depression era United States and unveils the hardships experienced by one typical farming family.  Elsa Martinelli is Kristin Hannah’s endearing lead and this hardworking soul endures a lifetime of hardship. Cast off by her own family and joined in marriage to man who never truly loved her, Elsa works hard on her husband’s farm. Bringing up her children and caring for her husband as best she can, Elsa is faced with further despair when a long drought and the Dust Bowl situation threatens to bury her beloved family farm to the ground. In utter despair, the combination of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl sees Elsa’s husband Rafe walk away from it all. Rafe begs not to be found and so Elsa must continue the fight. Eventually, Elsa comes to a hard choice, she must leave the farm and make a life for her family elsewhere, before they all perish. California beckons, but life on the west coast is much harder than Elsa could have imagined. The Four Winds is a story of survival, protection, nurture and love.

Kristin Hannah has shown us over the years that she can pen a saga of epic proportions. Previous novels such as The Nightingale and The Great Alone are a testament to this skilled writer’s ability to engage her reader in a powerful and all-encompassing story. The Four Winds represents a chronicle of a very difficult and transitional time in America’s not too distant past. In The Four Winds, we have the convergence of two equally harsh historical events – the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Both made their mark on the people of America. Kristin Hannah aims to bring this tenuous time in history alive for the reader in a fictional format. I developed a great level of respect for the author’s intentions in The Four Winds.

Closely following a typical or model family unit experiencing both the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, The Four Winds tracks the financial, social and emotional impact of this time for a very standard family set. We meet Elsa and her husband Rafe, along with his family. We also link in with Elsa and Rafe’s children as the story progresses. I think Kristin Hannah presented her cast very well, although two characters did get under my skin for their selfish actions. However, without these aspects of the characters in question, this story would not have been quite so interesting. Elsa, the engaging lead of The Four Winds, is just magnificent and I’m sure it will impossible to forget Elsa in a hurry. I admired Elsa’s stiff resolve, determination, work ethic and general outlook on life. Elsa is matched by a set of intriguing side protagonists that help to add drama, conflict and interest to the overarching story.

I remarked to a friend while reading this book just how desperately sad the whole story appeared to be. The Four Winds is no walk in the park, but it is an accessible narrative, despite the melancholy and dire set of circumstances faced by the characters. Although it did emotionally hurt to be in this place of such great despair with the lead and the support cast, The Four Winds is a story that does need to be told. For those who are not well versed in US historical events, The Four Winds is a go-to piece. I felt much more aware of what happened during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era after reading Hannah’s book. I also came away feeling much more in tune to issues such as climate problems, drought, dust pneumonia and locational prejudice during this segment in time. Hannah’s narrative is informative but also engaging, working to raise the reader’s awareness of important historical experiences.

Moving from America’s Great Plains region to the coastal area of California with ease, The Four Winds is a far-reaching tale that takes the audience on a heroic journey. This breathtaking yarn will work its way into your heart and mind, leaving you in floods of tears as the sad but expectant ending appears. The Four Winds is an explementary novel and an excellent asset to the Kristin Hannah collection.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah was published on 27th January 2021 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Four Winds, Kristin Hannah, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

3 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

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