Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Book Review: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Pages: 464
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 2, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Fly Away,
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, " From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.  Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.   In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. 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."



The year is 1921 and Hannah brings us to Dalhart, Texas.  We meet Elsa Wolcott, your average young woman living for the time period, except her family shuns her for various reasons. She isn't pretty enough, she is too tall, she's too lanky, and too sickly due to her bout with a fever as a child.  Her parents really keep her to room and limit her activities due to her weak heart, but Elsa is just bursting at the seams to break free.  After making herself a scandalous homemade outfit, she goes out one night without her parents knowing and meets Rafe.  After spending the night with him, she finds herself pregnant and her parents force her to marry him and join his family. His family is a bunch of Italian immigrant farmers (cue the horror!) and Elsa's family looks down upon them.  However, Rafe's family takes her under their wings and she finds herself happily working at the family's farm. She learns the ins and outs of not only farming, but about love, family, and loyalty. It's here that Elsa finally feels accepted and can start repairing her wounds from childhood.  However, Rafe and Elsa didn't exactly share a real love, so their marriage is strained at times. Rafe always dreamed of going away to college, but marrying Elsa changed that and now he is stuck on his parents' farm where is constantly brooding.  Once 1930 comes, disaster strikes.  Farmers are really put to the test because not only do they have to deal with The Great Depression, there's also the debilitating Dust Bowl, which changes their lives forever.  Kristin Hannah's The Four Winds tugged on my heartstrings and is actually a very timely novel about the powers of motherhood and the strength of women during difficult times.

Elsa was a character that my heart immediately went out to as her parents treated her like garbage. She was so very sheltered and just so desperate for love that she put herself in a compromising situation.  However, this night with Rafe set her life down a different path and not necessarily a bad one as she finally finds acceptance with her new family.  She forms a bond with Rafe's mother, Rose, whom never had a daughter of her own. Through Rose, Elsa learns about love, Italian culture, family, loyalty, teamwork, how to cook, grit, and more.  Meanwhile, Rafe is a bit of a downer. He can't let go of the fact that he is now stuck at home on the farm and is miserable.  Even once they have children, he still only cares about his dreams; whereas, everything Elsa did was for her kids.  I kept hoping Rafe would see the amazing person he has in front of him, but in the end, he was too self-absorbed.  

Hannah describes the time period of the Depression and the Dust Bowl very well; she makes it so very memorable and haunting in The Four Winds.  I felt like I was living the nightmare right alongside Elsa and quite honestly, it made the pandemic we are currently living through feel like child's play. The dust storms, the starvation, the lack of water, the lack of government assistance, and the desperation all really moved me. I read an amazing novel about the Dust Bowl before (Hesse's Out of the Dust), and The Four Winds was just as moving. It really makes you appreciate the little things in your life and to be grateful for fresh water and food on your table.  I was somewhat familiar with the migrant situation and the amount of people traveling to California to find work and escape the dust; however, The Four Winds really brought it to life for me. I had no idea the conditions were as bad as Hannah depicted and the way that the big business treated fellow American is disgraceful.  Even though this book takes place many years ago, I felt that the themes are still strangely relevant to some of today's issues.

While a few moments in the novel were a bit melodramatic and cliched, I didn't let that stop me from enjoying The Four Winds.  I think Hannah's fans won't be disappointed and Elsa isn't a character I will easily forget.  With that said, The Four Winds will definitely end up on my "Best of 2021" list at the end of this year. Just remember if you pick up a copy of the book make sure you have tissues handy! 

Are you a fan of Kristin Hannah? Did you read The Four Winds yet or is it on your TBR pile? Let me know in the comments below.



  1. I haven't read any books by her, but I know I need to! I've been wanting to pick up The Nightingale.

    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

    1. The Nightingale is one of my favorites! So good! I hope you can check it out. Thanks for visiting!

  2. I can't wait to read my copy. Elsa sounds like a fierce character that despite all odds, fought through hardships. I can't wait to meet her! Also hoping, there's an HEA in store for her. :D

    1. She is a really great character. I think you'll like her. Thanks for visiting, Joy!

  3. This is such an interesting time in American history that I've never really come across. I can't wait to read it!

    1. It is such a captivating and heartbreaking time. I look forward to your thoughts on this book! Thanks for dropping by, Angela!


I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

Design by: Designer Blogs