Title: The Four Winds
Author: Kristin Hannah
Length: 464 pages
Synopsis: Texas, 1934. Elsa Martinelli has finally found the life she’d yearned for: a family, a home and a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens all that she and her community hold dear, Elsa’s world is shattered to the winds. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. 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. Fearful of the future, when Elsa wakes to find her husband has fled, she is forced to make the most agonising decision of her life. Fight for the land she loves or take her beloved children, Lorena and Ant, west to California in search of a better life.
Kristin Hannah has done it again. I know we all love The Nightingale, but I think The Four Winds might surpass it.
Here’s the first thing that struck me about this novel, was its characters. You instantly care for Elsa. And I mean instantly. By the second page you feel for her, you hate how her family treats her and you want her to succeed in life. As you go on her journey with her, you only go onto care for her more. And I loved how she grew, she was such a complex, strong and vulnerable woman and it was just fantastic to read. I also really loved Loreda. She felt like the modern voice in this novel. But you also cared for her as well. Kristin just writes fantastic characters, and the connection she creates between them is brilliant. There’s lot of connections in this book that are so well done.
We all know that Kristin is a master at historical fiction, and this book has an epic feel to it. While the connections are intimate, the story is a sweeping novel that takes you back in time to 1921 when this novel begins. This book includes piece of American history I’ve never read about before and Kristin describes them in terrific detail. You can tell this novel has been meticulously researched and it just makes it all the more immersive. The farming, the dust storms, the droughts. It’s all dealt with brilliantly. Then when the family move to California for work in the Great Depression, it shows the harshness, the poverty and the horrible conditions of the camps. These are things I had no idea about. They make for a fantastic read.
There was a romance in this book that I didn’t see coming but I found totally believable and heartwarming. It works because the depth of character Kristin creates. Obviously its a sad book, and it needed this love story to give the book a bit of lightness.
Now lets talk about the ending shall we? I thought I knew how this book was going to end, I’d maybe decided halfway through that I knew. But boy, how wrong was I! Even when something happened (no spoilers here) I thought it would still end differently but i was still wrong. The ending had me sobbing. I didn’t see it coming and it was so sad. I think it was brave ending and the right one. But it definitely had me reaching for the tissues. It was so sad.
I said it earlier in the blog and I’ll say it again, Kristin has done it again. The Four Winds is a brilliant, moving novel that captures nearly two decades of American history with characters that will capture your heart. I couldn’t recommend this book more. I have a feeling a lot of you will be picking this one up.
Thank you so much to Macmillan for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out on February 2nd.
Until the next review