The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah – Book Review

JessMay 20, 2021

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

Excuse me whilst I cry all the noisy, ugly tears…

Goodness but at times this book is a hard read. It is predominantly a story about the strength and resilience of women and the way we, as readers, see that play out in the different scenarios depicted in the book was both inspiring and utterly heart-wrenching. I absolutely felt for our main character, Elsa the whole way through the book as she has to fight for herself and her family and try to navigate through, mostly alone. That said I did also enjoy the development of Elsa’s character from an unsure teen to a strong woman; it was a real pleasure to read, despite what is going on around the family as the story progresses.

I’ve been a fan of Kristin Hannah since I read The Nightingale and I went into The Four Winds with definite expectations…it did not disappoint. There is something very compelling about Hannah’s storytelling and there are moments when the raw emotion of our characters was a real sucker punch to the gut. There is a particular moment between Elsa, and Jean (a friend) which absolutely broke my heart. I won’t spoil it here but I imagine if you’ve read the book you will know exactly what I mean.

There is also the relationship between Elsa and her daughter Loreda which changes and grows throughout the course of the book and I thought Kristin Hannah captured it so well; it was at times incredibly frustrating but also entirely convincing. I think one of Hannah’s strengths is the way she writes her female characters (it was what I loved in The Nightingale) and I think she does it brilliantly in this book.

The book lost a star because I thought it lost its way towards the end. It began to focus very heavily on Communism (not sure if that was a deliberate message of support from the author?) and there is something which happens right at the end of the book which (in my opinion) took it all too far. I was literally teetering on the edge of this being a 5 star read but the ending felt like a gratuitous shock factor addition and although…yes it made me cry…it just felt too much. Again, no spoilers.

I actually listened to this on audiobook via Audible despite having the gorgeous hardback edition and I would highly recommend the audio version as it was incredibly well narrated.

Overall if you have enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s other books I think you will love this one, and I think it’s a good choice for anyone looking for a family saga which involves a journey, a strong mother-daughter relationship and good female characters.

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