Opportunities are scarce in Norway, so when Rune and Signe Carlson receive a letter from Rune's uncle, Einar Strand, offering to loan them money for passage to America, Rune accepts. Signe is reluctant to leave her home, especially as she is pregnant with her fourth child, but Einar promises to give them land of their own, something they could never afford in Norway.
But life in Minnesota is more difficult than Signe imagined. Uncle Einar and Aunt Gerd are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone to pay off their debt. Afraid they will never have the life they dreamed of, she begins to lose her trust in God. When the dangers of the North Woods strike close to home, will she find the strength she needs to lead her family into the promise of a new dawn?
(excerpt from back of book)
Lauraine Snelling is one of those authors I've always meant to look into but, given how many of her books seem to center on Blessing, I've never known exactly where to start. With Snelling's newest series, Under Northern Skies, it seemed the perfect time to jump in.
.In many ways I'm not sure how to categorize The Promise of Dawn.
On one hand, it's a solid historical fiction. Snelling weaves an engaging picture of both the achievements and the risks facing new immigrants in the early 1900's. While many recent historical fictions rely on a major historical event or location to anchor their story, Snelling focuses more on the emotional side of things inviting readers to become anchored in the Carlson family themselves.
As a result The Promise of Dawn occasionally feels like a character study of wife and mother Signe who solidly occupies the central role of the novel. Not that this is a bad thing. Signe's frustrations at her lonely and hard life, her love and concern for her family, her uncertainty of the future are the emotional anchors that draw the reader in. Signe is relatable on some level to so many with the honest portrayal of life Snelling has laid out on the page.
As a warning, I did find this book to have a slower start. I'm not sure if that's part of the writer's style, the story itself, or my confusion over the story's pacing (which made far more sense once I saw it as a character focus). That said, once the characters had a chance to develop, the Carlson's proved themselves to easily hold their own and this reader's attention.
For readers looking for a more character driven piece this is a great option for the upcoming fall afternoons.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."