Tuesday, February 2, 2021

#MacmillanAudio review of The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah narrated by Julia Whelan

Kristin Hannah has written some unforgettable novels but she may just have outdone herself with her latest historical masterpiece, The Four Winds. Devastation yet hope, humiliation yet determination is what the audience will find in this incredible novel set during yet another trying time in America, the dust bowl and the depression.

ISBN-13: 9781250317247
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: 2-02-2021
Length: 15 hrs-2 mins
Source: from publisher for review
Buy It: Audible/Libro.fm


Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it—the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, 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.

Listen to a sample:

My Macmillan Audio Review:

The Four Winds
Kristin Hannah
Julia Whelan 

Kristin Hannah has written some unforgettable novels every one featuring a strong determined woman, but this time she’s outdone herself with The Four Winds, a visceral, disturbing, eloquent yet timely historical masterpiece. While reading/listening to this novel the audience will be transported to the great plains and then to California during the depression and subsequent dust bowl where Kristin’s beautiful, painful majestic narrative will pull images straight from Ken Burns documentary, The Dust Bowl and implant these disconcerting pictures into the heads of her readers. The characters, every one is unforgettable, from Elsa’s overbearing parents, to her weak husband Raphe to her incredible in-laws, Rose and Tony. Then there are Elsa and her children who star in the entire novel, Anthony (Ant) is adorable and has to grow up in such a hurry and is a testament to the durability of children. Loreda is an enigma, a normal teenaged girl with all the smart mouthed attitude and yet she’s also robbed of her young womanhood and thrown into the chaos that is being a US immigrant in California during the dust bowl and yet she’s exceptionally inspiring. And then there’s Elsa, what an incredible, remarkable, unsinkable woman, a woman who in spite of being told at a young age she’d never amount to anything takes her children on a thousand mile journey all by themselves and survives. There are also some really fantastic supporting characters like Elsa’s friend Jean from the ditch camp and of course near the end Jack but it’s Elsa by far that is the real stand out with Loreda a second in this novel.  For any fan of historical literary fiction, strong women protagonists, women’s fiction and of course fans of this incredible master storyteller will find it impossible to put this fast paced, headed straight to the top of the best-seller list, two tissue box, novel down.
Kristin Brava!

Julia Whelan is herself a master storyteller because it’s absolute magic how she brings this novel to life for listeners. Her emotional rendering will bring tears and laughter and she portrays every character perfectly, men women and children. In fact her Anthony (Ant) is absolutely precious. Have the tissues close when you put those earbuds in.

Listeners will get an extra special treat at the end of the novel Macmillan audio hosts a conversation with Kristin and Julia where listeners will get inside information about how the novel came to be, where the characters came from, the research and the reason for the unexpected ending. So don’t miss out on this.

It's 1934 and Elsa Martinelli and her family have been ravaged by drought dust and wind. The crops won’t grow, her husband has left them and all she has in the world are her beloved in-laws and her precocious teenaged daughter Loreda and young son Anthony. Having vowed never to leave this land and the people who have become her family she’s forced to make a difficult decision when after the worst dust storm ever that becomes known as Black Sunday, Anthony almost dies from dust pneumonia. Her in-laws won’t hear of leaving but know she has no choice so they send her off in the old farm truck with food and supplies west to California until its safe to come home. But when Elsa and the children get there its not the land of opportunity unless you’re a greedy grower/land-owner. For them like the multitude of other dust bowl escapees either living in ditch camps along the side of the road or the “lucky ones” who live inside the grower’s cabins and owe their soul to the company store, its hard labor and never enough to make ends meet. So instead of the American Dream they find themselves inside a living nightmare and Elsa knows she will do anything she has to, to keep her children safe. What she doesn’t know is how she’ll ever get them home again.

 About the author:
KRISTIN HANNAH is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including The Nightingale and The Great Alone. A former lawyer turned writer, she lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest.



  1. Living back then would have been hard.

    1. I can't even imagine. And we complain when the power goes out for a few hours

  2. Replies
    1. oh wow and you don't live under a rock either. Get a book girl

  3. I have heard great things about her books but never read any of them.

  4. Wonderful review Debbie. I do have this book in my sights. Just have to decide if it's audio or book. Not sure I can handle the depth via audio, might have to be a book. Will see!

    1. it is a very visceral audio book Kathryn, reading might be best for you

  5. Love her work, and can't wait to read this one! Hugs, RO

  6. Yes...exactly how I felt. I enjoyed the interview as well.

    1. I know it was so great i'm going to try and find a book club discussion of it.

  7. I've been wavering on this one -- it sounds very heavy and emotional. Not usually my reading choice.

    1. it's all that Dianna but it's so well written but I do understand you have to be in the right mood for this emotional of a read