The Four Winds – by Kristin Hannah – independent book review – Historical Fiction (U.S.)

A relentlessly compelling historical novel that brings to life all the human drama and daily struggles of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.

Elsa is the ugly duckling in her Texas family, feeling unappreciated and unloved throughout childhood. So, when handsome neighbor Rafe Martinelli shows an interest, how can she resist? Of course, there are consequences and Elsa winds up as a farmer’s wife just as drought and dust storms are taking over America’s Great Plains.

Like so many millions, Elsa and her family are forced to head west, hoping to find work and a better life in California. But, if you know any history, or have ever read John Steinbeck’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH, you know that workers faced tough times in the west too.

The work was seasonal. Families squeezed into sub-standard tented towns. Wages kept decreasing. There wasn’t enough food. And even for those who found work, company housing and stores took full advantage of the desperation of the newcomers. And locals resented the influx of the “Okies” — so the outsiders also faced prejudice and discrimination at every turn.

Map indicating area of the Great Plains.

One of the things I like best about historical fiction is the way it translates dry history into human story. And this book does an exceptional job embedding all the drama of this era into compelling prose. It’s hard to put the book down, even though it’s a hard book to read.

I finished this bestseller better informed about life during the 1930s and inspired, once again, by the strength and resilience of the human spirit and by the power of love. And, with the reminder that even though challenges throughout history change, people do not.

Kristin Hannah (courtesy of

More about the author, Kristin Hannah.

You may be interested in my review of another wonderful historical novel by Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale.

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