No one does a bleak landscape better than Kristin Hannah. She's the author of some two dozen novels, the most famous of which take place in rural Alaska after the Vietnam War (as winter approaches) and German-occupied, war-torn France. Now, her latest book is set to tackle the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

The Four Winds opens in Texas in the mid-1930s as protagonist Elsa Martinelli struggles to decide whether to stay and attempt to live on nearly unfarmable land or go West and risk everything. Uplifting! In all seriousness, Hannah's new novel offers what so many of her tomes do: a chance to remember all the ways in which we, the readers, are fortunate. Ahead of the book's publication in February, EW is offering an exclusive listen to the first chapter of the audiobook, narrated by Julia Whelan.

Enjoy — we think?

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