Book Club Questions for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (2023)

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Book club questions for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah takes a deep dive into all the major events and character development in this epic read. There will be spoilers so for more context about the book, check out my spoiler-free review first.

I really enjoyed this novel. I hold The Nightingale as Kristin Hannah’s best work but this one does come a very close second. It’s such a vivid read and you feel like you’re right there along with Elsa and her children on this hard journey.

Going into the novel, I had wondered how much of the trip from Texas to California would be covered. And I’m glad that wasn’t a big focus of the novel. I was much more interested in their lives in California and how they would try to make it work.

I mentioned this in my review but it’s eerie how the hardships presented in The Four Winds remain today and even more so due to the pandemic. Businesses have been devastated and so many people have lost work. And you couple that with the reality of the impacts of climate change. So even the ’30s were so long ago, I think people will see some of our society’s current problems made an appearance then as well. I guess the big question is—what can we learn from history and how to avoid repeating the same mistakes?

The Synopsis

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.

(Video) Olivia's Book Club: Kristin Hannah, "The Four Winds"

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 Windsis 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 Windsis 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.

The Four Winds Book Club Questions

  1. A big theme of the novel is obtaining the American Dream whether it’s through financial independence of owning a farm or traveling to California in search of a better life. Do you think the American Dream is a reality or a myth?
  2. Elsa’s parents view her as a sickly and unlovable person. How did this treatment impact her later relationships and her search for love?
  3. When Elsa meets Rafe, everything changes but not in the way either expected. Rafe was set to go to college but once Elsa is pregnant with his child, those plans are canceled. Let’s talk the impact of Elsa’s pregnancy on all parties involved.
  4. We flash forward to 1934 and the farm is experiencing a severe drought. Both Rafe and their daughter Loreda are dreamers and believe there’s more to life than just the farm. Let’s talk about the similarities they share and how different it is from Elsa.
  5. Why do you think Loreda became so resentful of Elsa?
  6. After trying to convince Elsa to leave behind the farm, Rafe eventually leaves the family behind. Why did Elsa initially refused to move away from the farm? What do you think happened to Rafe?
  7. Ant experienced extreme sickness from the impacts of the dust storms, which finally forces Elsa to make the decision to move the family to California. What would you have done if you were in Elsa’s position?
  8. Elsa thought the children’s grandparents would join them on the journey but they refuse to leave behind the land. Loreda says “they’re like a plant that can only grow in one place.” Let’s discuss what Loreda is saying here.
  9. California is promised as the land of “milk and honey” and opportunity. But when Elsa and her family arrives to the state, they instantly realize reality is much different. The locals shun the new visitors and label them as dirty “Okies.” And the only “opportunity” is a life of poverty. Comparing the devastation of the farm to the hardships of the camps, what do you think was harder for Elsa and the family?
  10. With the extreme poverty conditions, there’s often remarks about how it’s inconceivable that this is taking place in America in the ’30s. What are your thoughts on this and the similarities to the present day?
  11. Loreda really finds her voice after going to the Communist movement meeting and being introduced to Jack. Let’s discuss Loreda’s new found activism and how that carried on to every decision she made going forward.
  12. Initially hesitant of Jack and his ideals, Elsa ends up falling hard for him—and experiences romantic love for the first time. What did you think about their romance?
  13. Jack calls Elsa a warrior. What’s the definition of a warrior to you?
  14. Elsa uses her voice to speak out against the oppressors. But she is shot and eventually passes away. Let’s talk about the climax of the story.
  15. What did you think about the ending and Loreda returning back to California to attend college?
  16. Do you have a favorite quote or scene in the story?
  17. What lessons can be learned from this time in history?

More Recommendations

Hope you enjoyed book club questions for The Four Winds! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Book Club Questions for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (1)Book Club Questions for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (2)
(Video) Book Club: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

If you’re looking for another epic style story, The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd is a great choice.

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome’s occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history.

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity,The Book of Longingsis an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.

You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Book Club Questions for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (3)Book Club Questions for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (4)

If you haven’t read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah yet, I highly recommend it!

(Video) Virtual Book Discussion on The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.

In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.

(Video) SO-55 05.25.2021 May Book Club - The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

You can order the book on Amazon here. Check out my book club questions here.

Happy reading!


What do The Four Winds represent in the book The Four Winds? ›

“from the four winds,” meaning, from any corner of the globe, and be whisked away, carried to another place. Certainly, Elsa and her children were swept away, to the west, and found a life they never expected. They found hardship and poverty and abuse; they also found love and friendship and something to fight for.

What is the theme of The Four Winds? ›

The Four Winds Book Club Questions. A big theme of the novel is obtaining the American Dream whether it's through financial independence of owning a farm or traveling to California in search of a better life.

Does Four Winds have a happy ending? ›

In the Epilogue, in 1940, Loreda has been living in Texas. She misses her mother. The book ends with her about to return to California to become the first Martinelli to go to college.

What does the wind mean spiritually? ›

It is the messenger of divine intervention, and it is the vital breath of the universe (Cooper, 192). Wind often represents the fleeting and transient, the elusive and the intangible. In the Bible, God's ruah (wind, spirit, breath) moved upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).

What could be the symbolic meaning of winds? ›

The wind symbolises the raw and brutal power of nature. The wind god is a symbol of might and strength.

Where can I find book club discussion questions? ›

General Book Club Discussion Questions
  • What did you like best about this book?
  • What did you like least about this book?
  • What other books did this remind you of?
  • Which characters in the book did you like best?
  • Which characters did you like least?
  • If you were making a movie of this book, who would you cast?
21 May 2020

How do you lead a discussion in book club? ›

7 Tips for Leading a Lively Book Discussion Group
  1. Find thought-provoking and engrossing books to discuss. ...
  2. Let your group members have a say in what they read. ...
  3. Be prepared. ...
  4. Be comfortable leading and listening. ...
  5. Be grateful for your group members. ...
  6. Be understanding and practical. ...
  7. Reward yourself for a job well done.
9 May 2017

What questions should you ask before reading a book? ›

What do you already know about this topic? How did you learn it? Does the topic of this text remind you of something you have previously heard or seen? Interact with the text before reading Does this story remind you of something you have previously seen or heard?

What are The Four Winds called? ›

The archaic Greek poet Homer (c. 800 BC) refers to the four winds by name – Boreas, Eurus, Notos, Zephyrus – in his Odyssey, and in the Iliad. However, at some points, Homer seems to imply two more: a northwest wind and a southwest wind. Some have taken this to imply that Homer may have had as many as eight winds.

Who is the main character in The Four Winds? ›

Elsa Martinelli nee Wolcott, is the main character of the novel, and the novel is mostly told from her third person perspective. Elsa is the mother of Loreda and Ant, and one stillborn baby Lorenzo, whom she grieves.

Who are The Four Winds? ›

THE ANEMOI were the gods of the four winds--namely Boreas the North-Wind, Zephryos (Zephyrus) the West, Notos (Notus) the South, and Euros (Eurus) the East. Each of these was associated with a season--Boreas was the cold breath of winter, Zephyros the god of spring breezes, and Notos the god of summer rain-storms.

What happens to Elsa in The Four Winds? ›

Elsa falls in love with a union organizer and helps to organize a strike against their bosses, but gets shot by the farm boss. She dies giving a voice to the workers. Her daughter, Loreda, returns home to Texas.

Will four winds become a movie? ›

"The Four Winds" is epic and transporting, a stirring story of hardship and love that is likely to lead to a film adaptation (Hannah's previous best-selling novel, "The Nightingale," is getting a film adaptation later this year starring Dakota and Elle Fanning).

Is The Four Winds being made into a movie? ›

So far, there isn't a Hollywood version of “The Four Winds” underway, though its sweeping backstop and epic story seems tailor-made for a limited series, especially given the strength of a character such as Elsa. Hannah hopes that readers will love Elsa as she does.

What does a strong wind Symbolise in our life our comforts our problems our desires our strengths? ›

Answer: Wind symbolises the challenges and hardships we face in life. You 're very clever at poking fun at weaklings. the wind god winnows and crushes them all.

What does god say about wind? ›

John 3:8. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

What does your My Candle in the Wind mean? ›

Candle-in-the-wind definition

(idiomatic) A fragile or vulnerable thing, likely to be put in jeopardy.

What is the flower of the wind? ›

Anemones, also known as wind flowers, due to their name being derived from the Greek word for wind 'Anemos'. According to mythology, the anemone flower was created when Aphrodite's mortal lover, Adonis, was killed and from the spot where her tears fell to the ground, an anemone emerged.

What kinds of people are disturbed by the wind? ›

Who are disturbed by the wind? Answer: The wind disturbs only those people who are not determined. The self confident people overcome the obstacles put before them by the wind.

What do the weak and strong wind Symbolise? ›

The wind represents nature's uncontrolled and raw force. The wind god represents perseverance and power. Weaklings, both mentally and physically, are carried away by the wind's enormous strength.

What is the first rule of a book club? ›

The first rule of book club is to read the book! This is essential to any good book club meeting. If all the members come prepared having read the book, then you are sure to have a much better discussion time together.

What is a book discussion kit? ›

Book Discussion Kits are designed for book clubs and other groups to read and discuss the same book. The kits include multiple copies of the book and a discussion guide. The kit is checked out to one group member who is responsible for all the materials.

What do you do at your first book club meeting? ›

Book Club Etiquette – Read Before Your First Book Club Meet
  1. Read the Book. You've joined a book club, so reading the book assigned is an integral part of the entire exercise. ...
  2. Be Honest. ...
  3. Be On-Time. ...
  4. Keep an Open Mind. ...
  5. Respect other Members. ...
  6. Interact. ...
  7. Bring a Gift. ...
  8. Let's Talk About the Book.
2 Jul 2020

How can I make my book club more interesting? ›

10 Ways To Make A Book Club Fun And Not Intense
  1. Spend Your First Day Getting To Know Everyone And Come Up With A Club Name. ...
  2. Keep Book Choices Under 300 Pages. ...
  3. Celebrate After Finishing A Book. ...
  4. Switch Up Your Meeting Spots. ...
  5. Use An Online Calendar. ...
  6. Open Up Book Discussion With A Game.
8 Feb 2016

How do I prepare for a book club? ›

Preplanning and organizing the first meeting
  1. Make clear what is expected of participants. Careful reading, active participation in selecting and discussing books, and having fun.
  2. Decide what types of books your group wants to read. ...
  3. Figure out the logistics. ...
  4. Decide how the book club will be run. ...
  5. Choosing the books to discuss.

Why do book clubs fail? ›

Book clubs fail because: People don't like the book choices. People will stop showing up to your book club if they don't like the book choices. The schedule is too frequent.

What are the 3 big questions in reading? ›

The Three Big Questions strategy challenges readers to annotate in the margins by marking passages that answer the questions: "What surprised me?", "What did the author think I already knew?", and "What challenged, changed, or confirmed what I already knew?".

What are some good questions to ask about books? ›

21 Questions to Ask Your Child About a Book
  • Why did you select this book?
  • What makes you think this book is going to be interesting?
  • What do you think the book is going to be about?
  • Does this book remind you of anything else you've already read or seen?
  • What kind of characters do you think will be in the book?

What are two questions a reader should ask? ›

What are two questions a reader should ask when analyzing how an author develops the central idea in an informational text? How does the author connect the ideas in the text? How does the author explain how he or she conducted research?

What does the four winds mean? ›

idiom literary. If a group of things or people are scattered to the four winds, they go or are sent to different places that are far away from each other: It was the finest collection of paintings in Denmark, but during the last war it was broken up and scattered to the four winds.

What are the 4 winds? ›

They are affiliated with Anu in some texts, as his creations or his messengers. One Sumerian proverb describes them: "the North wind is the wind of satisfaction, the South wind overthrows the men it hits, the East wind is the wind that brings rain, and the West wind is mightier than the man living there."

What do the four winds represent in Revelation 7? ›

The Pulpit Commentary suggests that translation as "the four winds" is "doubtless correct": "the winds are supposed to be God's servants, waiting his pleasure to be sent forth on his errands".

Why is the title the four winds? ›

Phil Neely The four winds are referred to repeatedly in the Bible from Jeremiah to the Revelation. Revelation 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.

What does it mean when the will says tomorrow it's ashes will be scattered to the four winds? ›

in this case that is what it means, that he will get buried because he is dead.

What does the ocean symbolize in the Bible? ›

The sea is connotative in that all men fear death by drowning, which symbolizes damnation in the theological sense. Consequently, the sea in the Bible is apparently evil as well as a symbol of evil. He who voyages the perilous sea with faith will reach the shore that is stable forever and where Christ awaits the elect.

What does winds his horn mean? ›

When the birds sing on every tree; The distant huntsman winds his horn, ... It expresses the mood of a summer morning in the countryside, and is full of nature and countryside imagery (“birds”, “tree”, “skylark” and the “huntsman” who “winds” – ie blows –his horn). heart outlined. Thanks 12.

Who is the lion of the south? ›

The Lion of the South is one of Mondstadt's Four Winds, which are not unlike the city's patron saints and protectors. Originally, Vennessa held this title before ascending to the divine realm of Celestia, at which point she became the Falcon of the West.

Who is the god of the winds? ›

Aeolus was the god of the Winds. Eos, also known as the Dawn Bringer, was a goddess daughter of either a Titan, Pallas Athena, or Nyx.

What does god say about wind? ›

John 3:8. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

What did the four horns symbolize? ›

The imagery of craftsmen is generally considered as "smiths", able to master the four iron horns, as symbolizing nations used as instruments of divine power for the destruction of Israel's enemies.

Who are the four creatures in Revelation 7? ›

Revelation's four living beings

These appear as a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle, much as in Ezekiel but in a different order. They have six wings, whereas Ezekiel's four living creatures are described as only having four.

What are the 4 corners of the earth in the Bible? ›

In Christianity and Judaism, the Old Testament (Book of Genesis, Genesis 2:8–14) identifies the Garden of Eden, and the four rivers as the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon. The Tigris runs to Assyria, the Euphrates to Armenia, the Pishon to Havilah or Elam, and the Gihon to Ethiopia.

Who is the main character in The Four Winds? ›

Elsa Martinelli nee Wolcott, is the main character of the novel, and the novel is mostly told from her third person perspective. Elsa is the mother of Loreda and Ant, and one stillborn baby Lorenzo, whom she grieves.

Who is Natalia In The Four Winds? ›

MiloElsa's horse.
NadineElsa's new friend.
NataliaThe woman that Loreda met.
NedBetty Anne's wife.
60 more rows

Who is Elsa In The Four Winds? ›

The Four Winds tells the story of Elsa Wolcott, a young woman born and raised in Texas during the boom years of the 1920s. Elsa is 25, and her parents, wealthy members of the local social scene, consider her too old and too plain for marriage, relegating her to the status of spinster.


1. Book Review for The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
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2. Author Kristin Hannah talks about her new book, The Four Winds
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3. The Four Winds by KRISTIN HANNAH
4. Historical Fiction Book Club Announcement // April's book is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah!
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5. Kristin Hannah discusses THE FOUR WINDS on Authors on the Air
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6. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah DRUNK BOOK REVIEW (Spoilers) 🍷 🥴
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