Kristin Hannah has gone and done it again.
She’s written a novel that holds its ground next to The Nightingale and The Great Alone.
The Four Winds is set first in the 1920s when Elsa meets husband Raffaello, but predominantly in the early 1930s, in Texas, where their young family and Rafe’s parents run a fairly successful farm.
That is until the drought sets in and wreaks havoc across the Great Plains, killing first their crop and then their animals and livelihoods.
This story was the most intense description of the Great Depression I’ve read.
The struggle was akin to war times of most other historical fiction I’ve read.
Hannah pulls you into the time and tells the harrowing story through a cast of really well-developed characters.
Like in The Nightingale, our two main characters, Elsa and Loreda, are unassuming but strong women who come to their strength through the course of the novel and by the end are showing such leadership and courage to convert even the most resistant to feminism!
I’m a fussy historical fiction reader, some stories I LOVE and others I find hard to get into.
This one hooked me in right away and kept my attention for all 400-odd pages.
I love books that can tell a really rich and personal story while also leaving you with a better understanding of history, and this one did this beautifully.
The struggle of the drought and then the unethical treatment of those who were forced to flee to “greener pastures”, where they ended up in California and were treated as lesser humans, was agonising.
But like with most tragedies, there were glimmers of real hope and goodness throughout as well.
As a fairly passive reader, I was completely pulled along the journey of struggling with Loreda’s character and selfishness at the beginning.
But I really came around to her as she matured and grew and started to recognise her own behaviour and its impact on her devoted and unwavering Mum.
Elsa was always strong and brave to me, but she didn’t always see it in herself.
When she finally came to see herself as others did, and stepped outside of the mould she had kept herself to, I was basically cheering from the sidelines.
This is all very specific but suffice to say, if you’re ready to go on a journey, this book will take you on one.
It’s one I’d recommend to buy as you will want to have it on your shelf, both as one of the ‘great reads’ but also to remind you of these inspiring characters and their story.
If you are one to shed a tear then perhaps have some tissues at the ready too!
Obviously, this one was five stars!