Guest Book Review by Sthembile Mthethwa of Kristin Hannah’s historical fiction The Four Winds. Read more below!
|Published||27 January 2021|
|Genre||Historical Fiction, Romance novel, Domestic Fiction|
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.
- When the book starts, it’s on the eve of Elsa’s 25th birthday (the main character). Elsa is despised by her parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”. With this encounter, you get really drawn to the Elsa’s character. It is one of the first great pages I’ve ever read, Hannah did amazing with this part.
- One day Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. This part portrayed the way women were treated in that time. This shifted Elsa’s life and she worked so hard trying to make her new life work and she ended up finding joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose’s kitchen. Even though things were not easy for both Elsa and Rose, I really enjoyed how their relationship blossomed throughout the book. Elsa experienced the love of a mother she has never experienced from her own mother. This kind of ‘new love’ she passed on to her daughter.
- Granted, life was not really easy from then on but she found happiness in her new normal and this is evident when the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. In this situation, we get to experience Elsa’s love for her children, her loss, grief and her positivity towards their current predicament. After various emotional events, Elsa decides to search for a better life for her children which takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. However, Elsa continuously fights for a better future for her children.
- This book also touches on self-esteem, which Elsa struggles with. The author addressed this amazingly and it is interesting how looks played a huge role in Elsa’s life. Elsa displays a strong and courageous character through difficult situations.
- Overall, this book is a rollercoaster of emotions and I’d highly recommend it.
- Last part, there is a representation of hope through the worst situations.
“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.”