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The Four Winds (2021)
by Kristin Hannah
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Books Read in 2021 (451)
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I tore through this book because it was so full of woe I had to finish as fast as possible. ( )
2.5 stars. Repetitive writing. Characters too extreme - all good or all bad. Learning more about the time period was a plus. Some parallels to today (people being fearful and resentful of newcomers down on their luck, for one).
Audiobook performed by Julia Whelan
As she did in The Nightingale, Hannah uses female characters to tell a bit of the history of a time and place. In this work, the timeframe is 1920s to mid-1930s, and the place is America, specifically the Great Plains and California.
Elsa Wolcott had a bad start in life despite being born into a prosperous family; she was sickly as a child and rather plain, especially as compared to her sister. Her parents have declared it her fate to be a spinster. But Elsa wants more. Her need leads to some bad decisions, and she winds up in a hasty marriage to an unsuitable man. Still, Rafe Martinelli’s family accepts her, and she learns to become a wife and mother. And then the Depression and the Dust Bowl hit their Texas wheat farm.
Elsa turns out to be quite the warrior. She is fiercely protective of her children, in turns frightened and courageous, but determined and willing to nearly kill herself in the fields to feed her family. She is suspicious of dreams of a better tomorrow because dreams don’t put food on the table or a roof over one’s head. But when pushed just a little too far, Elsa will answer the call to fight. Brava!
I loved Elsa’s teen-aged daughter, Loreda. Oh, I definitely recognized the push-pull of the mother-daughter relationship as the youngster is trying so hard to grow up. I feared for her but cheered Loreda on as she found her voice and learned to temper her impulses with good sense and planning.
And I also loved the mother-daughter relationship between Elsa and her mother-in-law Rose. Here is a woman who has seen hard times, but retains her faith in God, and in hard work, and in sacrifice to see them through the toughest trials. She shows Elsa the kind of love that helps her release the strong woman inside her.
I’ve heard some say it’s like Steinbeck’s masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, but with the focus on women. I certainly see the comparison, but I always felt the most important character in that classic was Ma.
While I saw a couple of plot points coming a mile off, the
Julia Whelan does a superb job of narrating the audio edition. As a bonus there is an interview with both Hannah and Whelan at the end of the book. I had to laugh when they went to such pains to avoid spoiling the ending; they even acknowledged the folly of this since, if the listener has gotten to the interview, she’s already read (listened to) the twist at the end.
Beautiful story of strength, resilience, honor and the American spirit of will to survive, courage and a history lesson of California treatment of migrant workers of americans who went west during the great dust bowl to survive. Heartbreaking as well as inspiring. A beautiful narration of a women deserted by her husband who is forced to head west when the family farm dries up and the dust storms were killing her children. The journey and the disappointments along the way made me cry and scream for historical justice and pride of the strength of a women's fight for justice. ** As an added Bonus - there is an Interview with the Author & the Narrator at the end which is Wonderful!!
Well I am emotionally exhausted because this book is bleak y'all!
Kristin has written a grim tale of one woman's fight to keep her family alive during the 'dust bowl era' in Texas. Whilst I wasn't wowed by the writing I could not stop listening because Elsa and Loreda are relatable characters who showed grit and determination in the face of disaster. It is a slow paced story and much of it is about the daily grind which normally doesn't hold my interest, however, I didn't realise how invested I actually was until I was sobbing. This book and it's wonderful women just crept up on me and I ended up loving it.
I also want to add that Julia Whelan is my favourite audiobook narrator and she does a marvellous job of bringing the characters in this novel to life.
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
Epic and transporting, a stirring story of hardship and love...Majestic and absorbing.
"From Kristin Hannah, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone, comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America's most defining eras-the Great Depression. Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli-like so many of her neighbors-must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. 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"--
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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