A Beautifully Written, Heartbreaking Novel!
The year is 1921, the setting is Texas, during the Great Depression.
Elsa is a young woman who has never known love. Ignored by her family, she yearns for a different life. The first time a man pays attention to her, Elsa becomes wholly smitten. That man is Rafe Martinelli. His intentions are less than stellar, as Elsa comes to find out when she discovers she is with child and she finds out he is engaged to be married to someone else. Yet his parents, Tony and Rose are kind and generous (unlike her own) and they insist on doing the right thing and Rafe and Elsa marry.
Going from an affluent home to live on a farm, Elsa learns a whole new way of life and yet she takes to it beautifully, working harder than even her husband and enmeshing herself into the Martinelli family. Raising first a daughter, Loreda and then a son, Ant, Elsa is both overprotective and overbearing.
At first life on the farm while hard work, is full of abundant crops and rewarding days and then the drought comes and it never goes away. Crops die and food is scarce. Thereafter the dust storms hit and days get even harder. Each day Elsa, her father, and mother-in-law pray for rain, and each day it ceases to come. Day after day and year after year. There is no end in sight.
The day slowly comes when the family makes the decision to head west to California in search of a better life. Promises of jobs and the land of milk and honey don’t quite ring true with what they find upon arrival. Lucky for Elsa, hard work and determination are her middle names.
Desolation, devastation, heartache, heartbreak, and loss. “The Four Winds” is a novel that encompasses all of those words and yet it is also about survival. The ability to survive during the absolute worst of times. Family, friendship, and love are also prevalent themes in this book and Kristin Hannah showcases them all beautifully.
There is much sadness here. A heaviness that is pervasive. I can’t say that I ever felt a moment of happiness while reading “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah and yet I will say that I loved the beautiful, lyrical writing, the characters, and the strength they showed throughout. It is a testament to Ms. Hannah, that she was able to make me love the book and the characters of Elsa, Tony, Rose, Ant, and Loreda (difficult though she may have been at times) when parts of this storyline were so completely and wholly depressing.
What resonated with me was this books’ underlying message which is that a human being can survive anything – which I think is especially true for all of us to remember right now.
A huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Kristin Hannah for the arc.
Published on Goodreads on 10.4.20.