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  • The Four Winds

  • A Novel
  • Written by: Kristin Hannah
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan
  • Length: 15 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,421 ratings)

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The Four Winds

Written by: Kristin Hannah
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
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Publisher's Summary

This program includes a bonus interview with the author.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

#1 USA TODAY BESTSELLER

#1 WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

#1 INDIE BESTSELLER

"The Four Winds seems eerily prescient in 2021 . . . Its message is galvanizing and hopeful: We are a nation of scrappy survivors. We’ve been in dire straits before; we will be again. Hold your people close.”—The New York Times

"A spectacular tour de force that shines a spotlight on the indispensable but often overlooked role of Greatest Generation women."—People

"Through one woman’s survival during the harsh and haunting Dust Bowl, master storyteller, Kristin Hannah, reminds us that the human heart and our Earth are as tough, yet as fragile, as a change in the wind." Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

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.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

©2021 Kristin Hannah (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

2021, Amazon.com Best Books of the Year

2021, Hudson Booksellers Best of the Year

2021, Washington Post Best Books of the Year

2021, USA Today Best Books of the Year

2021, "Read with Jenna"

"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...Have the tissues close when you put those earbuds in." —Reading Franzy

"With forceful narrative drive, Whelan delivers a compelling performance of Hannah's memorable new novel." —AudioFile Magazine

What listeners say about The Four Winds

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The Four Winds

The Best Book I've read in a long time. The Narrator was awesome ,she certainly deserves a 5 Star the author is great .I have read almost all her books and will continue to do so. It brought tears to my eyes way to go

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Well written but so very sad

This book was well written and I’m sure an accurate presentation of the times. My only problem was that nothing good ever happened to the heroine, nothing. Her life just kept getting worse and worse. I kept waiting for her to have some joy in her life.

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7 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, Evocative and Heartbreaking

This book was so highly recommended but I kept thinking “sounds depressing”. It was so beautifully written with characters that leap out at you and have you feeling so many emotions with them and for them. I wanted to sweep them up and build them tiny houses in my backyard — these women are so strong and so real and somehow despite all that happens leave me feeling hope. I read this in the heart of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and it made me stop whining and complaining and realize how lucky we have been. Julia Whelan as always brings characters to life.

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4 people found this helpful

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Wow! Grab your tissues!

Loved this book! The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and the migration of people to California, is something that needs to be revisited. History is repeating itself with the treatment of immigrants to the US. I wish we could have learned from these experiences from the past, but we haven’t. Worth the listen!

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4 people found this helpful

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Loved this story of the Dust Bowl

One of my first audiobooks was The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. It’s a piece of American history not talked about much but horrifying and so relevant to our current climate challenges. That book stuck with me. And then came The Four Winds, a novel of the same era, which perfectly captures the human side of the man made disaster. I loved this story, the characters and their challenges. The story exposes the lack of compassion in American society, also relevant in the current era. It’s a must listen, the narration too is excellent.

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3 people found this helpful

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  • B
  • 2021-03-15

resilience, family and love

It's the story of a family surviving through the dust storms then part of it having to travel to California where they aren't welcome, and their struggle, along with so many more, to find humanity when times are tough. The story is told from the mother and daughter's perspective. it's refreshing and meaningful to listen to historical fiction from women's stories, but this is by no means a book for women. It's a book for all, maybe even more importantly for men to read. Julia Whelan's performance is amazing, as always.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

another heart felt story by kristin hannah so good

easy read kept me wanting to listen to too it and some great history i have never heard of the dust storms:)

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No boring parts

This book is excellent. It takes a lot to keep my attention and this one intrigued me from the beginning. I didn’t find any parts that I just “needed to get through”. It was all good until the end! This is my second book by the author and I’m looking forward to more of her books. The narrator is very talented as well. Her voice is enjoyable. I knew I didn’t need to listen to a sample before buying.

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Brilliant

Great narration, great novel, good voice. I really felt present in the storyline and felt many of the emotions. The ending was unexpected.

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You won’t regret it!

Absolutely loved listening to this book. Such a strong and beautiful story. The narrator did an excellent job at making you feel every emotion throughout the book.

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  • ❤️Cyndi Marie❤️🎧Audiobook Addicts🎧
  • 2021-02-03

✫✫ 4.75 Stars ✫✫

This is a hard review to write because I loved so much about this book but it took awhile to get there. I was struggling in the first part of this book because it felt little one dimensional with characters development and relationships. I wasn't sure if I liked anyone. Then as things progressed and hardship set in the characters grew and became so much more. Elsa was a hard characters for me because she was so insecure about herself and sometimes felt almost emotionless but then when it came to her kids she found an inner strength that made her seem so strong and then she would go back to her insecurities which I imagine was the point, to show she never really lost her insecurities about herself no matter how strong she became. The story line was so filled with hardship and heartache that it reminds us how much people suffered. The ending and the epilogue was so hard to listen to but really brought the entire story and impact home for me.

I personally do not know anything about the Dust Bowl but after this book I have found myself researching to try to understand how this could have happened. This is my favorite thing about Historical Fiction and Kristin Hannah's books, I find I always learn so much about the past that seems forgotten when we should never forget. At the end of the audiobook there is an interview with Kristin & Julia Whelan that was very interesting. I loved hearing the process and how much the story changed from the original idea to a released book.

Julia Whelan is an incredible narrator. For me she can make me forget she is reading a book and instead I feel like I am there. She captures all of the emotions and characters so well.

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  • Wendi
  • 2021-02-04

Strong setting, weak characters- Depressing!

Kristin Hannah was one of my favourite niche writers. By 'niche writer' I mean, she wrote about beautiful, deep relationships between female friends and family members that spanned decades. I could always count on Kristin Hannah to make me see the beauty in myself as a woman, and the beauty in my long time friends and family. In fact I hold many of her books dearly in my heart to this day, and I am enjoying her wonderful novel 'Firefly Lane' as it comes to life on Netflix.

Something changed in Hannah. It started with 'Winter Garden' and continued with 'The Nightingale.' 'The Great Alone' was a bit more relative to her usual readers, but 'The Four Winds' focuses so much on the setting of the book, that the characters get lost.

The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl was a horrible time for many Americans and the struggle is depicted extremely well by Hannah. Her sense of the time is portrayed in vivid, picturesque prose. The problem is, the listener or reader is left with, for lack of a better analogy, dust in our mouths. While she focuses and reveals so many day-to-day impossibilities that happened to many who suffered through the dust storms and droughts, and then eventually the horrible migration west- Hannah's story is much too long winded. The character development is shallow because it's overshadowed by the dirt, crust, drought, and misery. The book follows one misery over another, and after 15 hours of listening I was hoping for the book to end. The misery and depression was just too much to bear and I didn't even shed a tear because I couldn't emotionally connect with any of the characters.

I am glad Hannah is getting the accolades she wants with her new writing style, but as a fan, I wish she wouldn't concentrate so much on the time period, but more on the characters in the story.

3 stars
-Wendi

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  • Laura Rangi
  • 2021-02-09

Depressing.....

Good grief can Kristen Hannah ever give these characters one break ! This is the most dark depressing and discouraging downer of a book I’ve ever seen. I kept thinking it will take a turn and get better . Nope. If you think 2020 was bad you haven’t begin to see misery yet . Awful.

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  • tatiana rude
  • 2021-02-03

Very depressing story for this time of year I couldn’t finish the book how can the little daughter dislike her mommy

Depressing depressing depressing how can a little girl hit her mother and take sides between mother and a father pretty darn depressing I hope you’ll come out with a Christian book that it is feel good at your heart the reader was good but the story is 110 % depressing

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  • Taryn
  • 2021-02-15

absolute waste of time in every way

Was this book mislabeled ? Seemed to be more of a boring young adult book. After 4 wasted hours I finally had to give up on it. Will be returning. I am very hit or miss with Kristin Hannah, I know many love her writing, but I find her to miss more than she hits. This was a definite miss for me. First off, the storyline was so predictable, second the writing was average to below average, third, the pace of the book just drags on and on. Concept was great and maybe a better author could have done a better job, or maybe Ms. Hannah just rushed this one to market. As for the narration I usually love Julia Whelan but her Italian accents were really BAD, sounded more like Russian or I am not sure what, but certainly not Italian!
Don't waste your time or credits on this one.

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  • Paula Stephen
  • 2021-02-04

On the lookout for the Movie!

Be prepared for an emotional ride as Kristen Hannah does flawlessly! The Four Winds is a very intense, provocative, detail rendered novel dealing with one of the darkest times in US history. The Dust Bowl, Great Depression, Migrant Experience come alive through Elsa and her family. Throw in very vivid characters in the darkest moments in their lives and you have a novel that will leave you in tears. There is also hope and lessons on how relationships can get you through. How one mother finds her voice not only to stand up for herself, or her children but for many. Outstanding!!!

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  • Jeffrey S. Cohen
  • 2021-02-10

What happened?

This was the most depressing negative book I have ever read especially by Kristen Hannah. I want my money back and my time back. I couldn’t even get through the entire thing. F

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  • T. Yarmey
  • 2021-02-03

Stunning

This book is so amazing! It is heart breaking and incredibly heart warming! Julia Whelan is an excellent narrator imbuing all the emotion the author intended. It is a story of resilience, strength, faith and a family’s enduring courage in the midst of extreme hardship. Highly recommend and enjoy!!!

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  • Kim!
  • 2021-02-04

Elsa is a Hero and Brilliant!

Loved this novel. It is a piece of history, but most of all it is the love of a mother who shows her children not only to survive, but thrive. God gave us a backbone for a reason.

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  • Lindsey Kaz
  • 2021-02-04

Another Julia Whelan and Kristin Hannah masterpiece

Kristen Hannah can weave a story like few others, her deep character development, imagery of the land and the struggles they endure take us back to a time in history that seems so very relevant today. Elsa and Lorretta’s bond and love and struggle are that of every mother and daughter. Their hopes and dreams are that of every American. Taking you through the dusty Great Plains on to the dream of California you will feel their heartbreak, cry at their loss and carry their enduring hope with you. Julia’s narration is of course masterful and a true delight. A must read.

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48 people found this helpful

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