The Four Winds - Book Review
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The Four Winds
is a gripping and stirring story of a family who flees their home due to adverse weather conditions. It’s written by American author Kristin Hannah, who is known for creating emotional and female-centric novels.
The Four Winds
is set between America’s Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. It focuses on a young woman called Elsa who is raising her two children on a farm in the Great Plains. After a drought makes it difficult to live on the farm, and Elsa’s husband disappears, Elsa decides to leave the area and make an arduous journey across the country to California, where there are tales of a greater life.
The story spans from 1921 to 1936 and is divided into a number of sections. The first part of the book takes place in the 1920s when Elsa is still living with her parents and is ostracised for her unconventional looks. Elsa soon meets Rafe Martinelli and is disowned by her parents when she falls pregnant. Elsa and Rafe move in with Rafe’s parents and build a relatively stable life on the farm. Just over a decade later, a severe drought hits the farm, and Rafe takes off. Like many other people in the region, Elsa makes the agonising decision to venture west to California in search of a better life for her and her children.
As with the other books I’ve read by Kristin Hannah, the characters in The Four Winds
are fantastically written and really brought to life. Elsa is a true heroine and I really felt for her – she was unable to fulfil her dream of going to college due to her dismissive parents and unexpected pregnancy, and just when it seemed like she’d finally found a loving home, even more misfortune comes her way in the form of a drought. Loreda is quite different to Elsa and resents her mother for pushing her father away. At the same time, Elsa and Loreda are both strong-willed characters, so it’s not surprising that they often clash as mothers and daughters do.
With over 400 pages, it took me a couple of weeks to read The Four Winds
, but that is by no means a reflection of the quality of the book. Kristin Hannah has created a beautiful novel about the hardships that migrants endure, even within their own country. I was completely unfamiliar with this period of US history prior to reading The Four Winds
, but the book is so incredibly detailed and impeccably researched that I learned so much. I felt so angry and horrified with the way Elsa, her family, and the other migrants were treated by the locals and government. It’s also a story of motherhood, how mothers are determined to protect their children. Elsa will do anything for Loreda and Ant, even if it means risking her own safety.
Having enjoyed The Nightingale
and Firefly Lane
, I had high expectations for The Four Winds
, and it did not disappoint. The Four Winds
is further proof that Kristin Hannah is one of the best authors of the 21st century, and there’s no doubt that I will be reading more of her books in the near future.
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