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The Four Winds: A Novel

Unabridged Audio Book

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Julia Whelan

15 Hours 2 Minutes

Macmillan Audio

February 2021

Audio Book Summary


'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

'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

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  • Tracy B.

    So sad that one of my favorite authors has decided to thinly disguise this political opinion as a novel?! Even though my opinions line up with hers, I’m sick of these preachy, get-woke “best sellers”. In the effort to get her point across, the story is long, boring, repetitive, and overkill with details that seemed to be there to just take up space on the page. Stuck with it til over half way, then gave up. I have never NOT finished a novel:(

    Book Rating

  • Linda I.

    Disappointing at best. Much to long, too many details and felt that it lacked depth. This author could write for YA. Boring after 3 chapters. Did not care about the characters. I fell asleep during the audio for about an hour and still knew what was happening when I missed a few chapters. Not a fan.

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  • Anonymous

    This book was so well written, presented, and interesting I was totally stuck until I finished it. This was Kristin Hannah’s best book yet. I found it remarkable to recognize the parallel similarities to the current state of our world.

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  • Christopher T.

    I loved so many things about this book, but mostly that you can make it through anything as long as you have love. Heartbreakingly beautiful!

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  • Melissa R.

    This was a “read in one sitting book” for me. Oh, bring the Kleenex.

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  • Anonymous

    Not only an incredible story based in history but a superb author. Her characters live inside me I talk to to them as if they were in my life. I have enjoyed all of her books. However this one connected strongly with me being from farmland and the love of growth.

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  • Anonymous

    Communism is sexy and intelligent. Capitalism is ugly and irrational. A very pro-Union book.

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  • Diane C.

    Every American should read or listen to this book based on researched historical data that is relevant to the times that we live in today especially in regards to how Americans treat the lands and the consequences of not learning from past mistakes as in the case of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression . The book was incredibly well read depicting the characters well and the suffering that they each endured differently. The devastating events that led to the migration of thousands of people from one area of the country to another along with the human suffering, enslavement and treatment under the guise of the haves and the have not's was very sad and again relevant for our times. The ending was well suited to the situation that each character in the book depicted even if it was not what I was expecting. Great read and great narration.

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  • Kacie S.

    I thought this was a great book. Honestly didn’t know much about the dust storms and how people were treated during the depression. Did not expect the ending.

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  • Sylvie L.

    Very sad historical stories ...Since it’s a romance historical story the end should have been different !

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