Elsa is an outsider, even in her own family. Though her grandfather would tell her to be brave, her biggest adventures are experienced through the characters in her books. Flashforward and the Dust Bowl and Great Depression combine to threaten the family Elsa has cobbled together with her unlikely husband. Once her husband leaves, it’s up to Elsa to take who’s left out West in search of the salvation they need from their dying farm. Is California the “land of milk and honey” as advertised or are they just trading in the problems they know for new ones? Whatever winds blow you into the path of this novel, trust that you’re meant to read this story of a mother’s love in one of the US’s most challenging times.
-Clare— From Clare's Recs
February 2021 Indie Next List
“A brilliantly woven narrative set during the Dust Bowl years on the High Plains of Texas, The Four Winds is a story of survival that inspires us to persist. Hannah extensively researched the devastation of this climatic and agricultural phenomenon and its toll on communities, which seamlessly informs the deftly woven narrative of the life of Elsa, a woman who finds that she has more tenacity and resourcefulness than she had been raised to believe — and then some.”
— Claudia Maceo, The Twig Book Shop, San Antonio, TX
From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.
“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.
About the Author
KRISTIN HANNAH is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and The Four Winds. A former lawyer turned writer, she lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.
Praise for The Four Winds:
Book of the Month Club's Best Book of 2021
One of Amazon's 10 Best Books of the Year 2021
"Through one woman’s survival during the harsh and haunting Dust Bowl, master storyteller, Kristin Hannah, reminds us that the human heart and our Earth are as tough, yet as fragile, asa change in the wind. This mother’s soul, suffering the same drought as the land, attempts to cross deserts and beat starvation to save her children with a fierce inner strength called motherhood. A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." —Delia Owens, author of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING
"The Four Winds seems eerily prescient in 2021 . . . Its message is galvanizing and hopeful: We are a nation of scrappy survivors. We’ve been in dire straits before; we will be again. Hold your people close.”—The New York Times
"A powerful, stirring, wind-swept tale set in Depression-era America that makes your heart break and soar in equal measure. An escape into the past with timely echoes to the present. Kristin Hannah is a classic storyteller and The Four Winds sees her at the top of her game.” -- MATT HAIG, New York Times bestselling author of THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY
"Wow. I have been left with a bursting heart. Prepare to go on a journey. The story of Elsa and her family will sweep you up on its wings and plunge you to the depths of feeling. This novel is crucial for our times: although set during the Great Depression and the terrible dust bowls, it holds up a mirror to our current world and asks us to look and to understand deeply. It is a story of migration, poverty, prejudice - it shines a light on a crisis that is all too real in today’s world. Yet, it is also a story of love, family, unbreakable bonds, bravery and hope. I will never forget the characters, what they endured and how they hoped and loved. I feel that I will be forever touched by them. I loved this book so much!" --Christy Lefteri, author of THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO
"A spectacular tour de force that shines a spotlight on the indispensable but often overlooked role of Greatest Generation women."—People
"Epic and transporting, a stirring story of hardship and love...Majestic and absorbing."—USA Today
"The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is a captivating, heartbreaking tale of a family who will do anything for each other — and everything to survive. The strength of Hannah’s prose brings the characters to life in a way that will make you unable to tear yourself away from them. You will celebrate their triumphs, mourn their tragedies, and commend their bravery.
Through it all, it is easy to feel Hannah’s desire to honor those who lived and fought through this devastating time in history. The Four Winds is also an ode to the strength and ferocity of mothers, and a declaration that sometimes, love is the only thing that holds us together.
Above all else, The Four Winds is merely a really good story, one that hits you in all the right places and will keep surprising you until the end."—Associated Press
"One woman’s journey exemplifies the hard choices families faced when confronted with survival versus a sense of home."—GoodMorningAmerica.com
"Hannah brings Dust Bowl migration to life in this riveting story of love, courage, and sacrifice...combines gritty realism with emotionally rich characters and lyrical prose that rings brightly and true from the first line"— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Outstanding.... [A] rich, rewarding read about family ties, perseverance, and women's friendships and fortitude." — Booklist (starred review)
"The Four Winds is a sweeping epic about an American struggling to keep her family afloat. It feels eerily timely as it highlights the ways women rally during a national crisis."—Real Simple
"A heartbreaking but beautiful story of sacrifice, courage, love, and hope. Grab the tissues."—The Skimm
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