The bestselling author of The Great Alone returns with an epic tale set during the Great Depression. Elsa Martinelli must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west to find a better life in California—where unbeknownst to her, migrant workers are organizing to resist injustice unfolding amid the Dust Bowl's economic and social crisis.
This exquisite novel follows Elsa through nearly two decades of hardship, including the Dust Bowl, droughts, the Great Depression, migrant farming in California, and a devastating flood ... Through Elsa's eyes, readers travel through the Great Depression era and experience firsthand the difficulties faced in the Great Plains. Historical fiction readers will become immersed in this poignant story by Hannah...and will enjoy witnessing Elsa's transformation from fragile, insecure girl to fearless, resilient woman.
Like a wise and imaginative teacher, Kristin Hannah imbues past events with relevance and significance ... The story builds to epic proportions over its four distinct parts. The spare writing in the 1921-set first section imparts the starkness of Elsa’s childhood and the barrenness of the landscape, like a Dorothea Lange photograph come alive ... With biting dialogue that holds nothing back, The Four Winds is classic in its artistry. Overtones of America’s present political struggles echo throughout the novel’s events. These indomitable female characters foreshadow the nation’s sweeping change through their fierce commitment to each other and to a common, timeless goal.
... the echoes of Steinbeck’s classic are sometimes so strong that I expected to see the Joads’ Hudson Super Six chugging along the road ... In fact, despite the strong echoes to The Grapes of Wrath, Hannah may be working closer to 19th-century melodrama. The heroines of The Four Winds are purely heroic; its villains wholly evil. Hannah never risks ambiguity; her pages are 100 percent irony-free. And she moves with a relentless pace. Her prose, so ordinary line by line, nevertheless accumulates into scenes that rush from one emergency to the next—starving! beating! flooding!—pausing only for respites of sentimentality ... the snob in me wonders what this indefatigable author could produce if she endured a little tougher editorial criticism and gave herself a little more time. (She’s published 24 novels in 30 years.) But that would mean fiddling with the well-oiled machine that reliably produces such marketable passion. I confess, I spent too long rolling my eyes at the flat style, the shiny characters and the clunky polemics of The Four Winds before finally giving in and snuffling, 'I’m not crying—you’re crying!'