Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book Review - An Untamed Land

Do you like to reread favorite books? I do, especially those I haven’t read for several years. It’s like visiting an old friend.

After my husband’s passing, I’ve been struggling with depression, not wanting to do anything. But God provides our needs even in times such as these. My college bound grandson moved in and will attend a local college. He has been such a blessing. 

As I was cleaning out the bookshelves in the spare bedroom, I ran across Lauraine Snelling’s Red River of the North series. My memory snagged on an incident in the first book in that series, An Untamed Land. The heroine, Ingeborg, lost her husband and went into what the author called “a dark pit.” When I first read the book, it had no particular significance for me. Now it did. I could relate to Ingeborg’s emotional struggle in a way I didn't when I first read it.

As I reread the story, I realized why this book became a keeper in the first place. It's one of the best novels about immigration in the United States during the late 1800s ever written. The saga follows a Norwegian family as they travel from Norway to settle free land in North Dakota. After an arduous Atlantic voyage, they process through Ellis Island.

What impressed me was how orderly the immigration process was compared to the chaotic system now in place. Settlers were checked medically and deemed fit both health-wise and financially before entering.

Lauraine Snelling didn’t sugar-coat the experience, however. Immigrants faced prejudice and unscrupulous people, and language was a major problem from the beginning. Only the desire for land and a future for their children drove them on, and it soon became evident only the strongest would survive the harsh conditions.

As the title implies, the antagonist of the story is the land itself. Rather than long descriptions, the author presents a compelling picture of this wild territory through the characters’ experiences, from cooking in an earthern firepit to building a sod house to fighting the brutal winters. The reader can picture the land and feel the desolation and beauty.

I thoroughly enjoyed rereading An Untamed Land, and as I expected, I understood Ingeborg better this time. Her faith helped strengthen my faith. There is no better reason to read Christian fiction. 

The promise of free land lures Roald and Ingeborg Bjorklund from their belowed home high above the fjords of Norway in 1880, and after three long years of scrimping and saving to buy tickets for their passage to America, they finally arise at the docks of New York City. This new land promises a rich heritage for their children, and here they hope to build a good life. When the Bjorklunds finally arrive in Dakota Territory, they settle on the banks of the Red River of the North. But the virgin prairie refuses to yield its treasure without a struggle. Can they overcome the hardships and tame this new land?

What favorite book have you enjoyed reading again?

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  1. This was wonderful....thank you so much for sharing. I love how God used that book to comfort you, how He impressed upon you to keep it after reading it for the first time. Who knew how it would help you one day...God knew. I am blessed by your blessing. Hugs!

    1. I forgot to mention the book that I've enjoyed reading again...Charity's Cross by MaryLu Tyndall. It's not an old book, it's actually her newest release...but I've already read it 3 times.

    2. Thank you so much, chappydebbie. I haven't read Charity's Cross, but I'm going to look it up.

  2. A re-read can be just the thing sometimes.

  3. It sure can, Mary, and if I had time, I'd read the whole series.

  4. I have enjoyed re-reading The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini. It isn't classified as inspirational fiction buy it is a clean read and the first book of The Elm Creek Quilters series.