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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah


Kristin Hannah is one of my favourite American authors, with The Nightingale probably her best-known novel, which sold three million copies worldwide. So I approached The Four Winds with a great deal of enthusiasm, and wasn’t disappointed by this deeply moving story.


In Texas, 1934 Elsa Martinelli finally has the life she has always yearned for, after an unhappy and unloving childhood, never being good enough for her well to do family. She now has her own family, a humble home and a life of farming on the Great Plains. But then drought threatens the entire community, and Elsa’s world is shattered to the four 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? She uses every grain of her courage to make a change where she will find the best of herself in the worst of times, at great costs.


This is a book about a mother’s love for her children and an incredible journey of hope and love, despite all the odds. It’s also an extraordinary book that captures a time in history that previously I didn’t know too much about – the Dust Bowl years and the migrant experience in California – bringing the pain, injustices and hardships vividly too life. The Four Winds is uncanny in that a story set in the Great Depression resonates so much with many ongoing issues in today’s modern world. The Four Winds is profoundly moving and thought-provoking, but also a beautiful story of love and hope, and of a courageous woman finding her own self-worth and voice in the hardest of times.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan Publishers