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Publisher's Summary

Number One New York Times Best Seller

Number One USA Today Best Seller

Number One Wall Street Journal Best Seller

Number One Indie Best Seller

"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 best-selling 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

"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)

©2021 Kristin Hannah (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Featured Article: Hit the Open Highway with the Best Road Trip Listens to Hear This Summer


In theory, any audiobook, audio performance, or podcast can be listened to in the car, but it takes more than great storytelling to be the right fit for every type of road trip. What works for a cross-country adventure may not be quite right for a quick day trip. What you listen to with your significant other may not be (read: is definitely not) the same as what you listen to with a carload of kids. No matter what kind of journey you have coming up, we’ve got you covered.

Editor's Pick

Pure audio bliss
Listening to Julia Whelan perform a Kristin Hannah novel is a salve for the soul and a joy for a historical fiction fan like me. I knew The Four Winds was coming months ago (news of an upcoming Hannah is always big news!) and I was lucky enough to get an early review (hardcover) copy by surprise in the mail. I immediately devoured two-thirds of it—then forced myself to wait for the audio to finish. I gladly started from the top and was thrilled to hear Whelan as the voice in my head. It was a seamless transition. Whelan brilliantly embodies the voice of Elsa—the heroine of this Dust Bowl-era story—as well as the array of Texans, Italian immigrants, and a whole host of unforgettable characters. The Four Winds is one I will return to—I’ll surely be thinking back on it, and relistening whenever in need of a story to get lost in. —[Tricia F., Audible Editor]

What listeners say about The Four Winds

Average Customer Ratings
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✫✫ 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.

265 people found this helpful

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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

238 people found this helpful

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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.

174 people found this helpful

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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

85 people found this helpful

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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!!!

68 people found this helpful

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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!!!

64 people found this helpful

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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.

61 people found this helpful

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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

53 people found this helpful

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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.

45 people found this helpful

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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.

45 people found this helpful