A Harvest of Hope
Song of Blessing #2
By Lauraine Snelling
Author’s Website: laurainesnelling.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
More Heartwarming Drama in the Song of Blessing Series…
Just a few short weeks into her year-long nurse training assignment at the Blessing Hospital, Miriam Antonio is called home to Chicago, where her mother is gravely ill. With siblings to care for, Miriam pleads to be allowed to finish her training in Chicago. Her nursing supervisor grants her a brief reprieve but extracts a promise that Miriam will soon return to Blessing and fulfill her commitment.
While in Chicago, Miriam has tried to get Trygve Knutson and Blessing out of her mind, but his letters make that impossible. Trygve is busy building a house, hoping he can convince Miriam to return to North Dakota and marry him. Torn between Trygve’s love and her family’s needs, she doesn’t know what to do.
When Miriam finally returns to Blessing, she buries herself in her work. But no matter how hard she tries to put it off, she has some life-changing decisions to make about her future, her family…and the man who is never far from her thoughts.
What will it take to convince her to stay? (From Goodreads)
Harvest of Hope is a tapestry portraying life in Blessing, North Dakota in the early 1900’s. Blessing was settled primarily by those of Norwegian descent. Some, like Trygve Knutson’s parents, Aunt Ingeborg and late Uncle Haakan, came from Norway and settled in to farm in the wild beauty and challenging climate that is North Dakota. Blessing is in a time of change, when there is much more work than there are people, and immigrants from other countries move to this little town and are living in tents, awaiting housing completion. Many, including Trygve’s family, welcome the immigrants, but others want them to leave.
One of the cornerstones of Blessing is the hospital, run by two women doctors. The hospital trains nursing students from the nursing program in Chicago that Miriam Hastings is part of. They hope to one day train interns there, also. Miriam and Trygve met when she first arrived from Chicago, which is also the day he loses his heart to her. Her younger brothers and sisters live in a tenement since her father died, and she wants to work at the hospital in Chicago and care for her family when she graduates.
Miriam loves the wide open spaces of Blessing and the closeness of the townspeople, yet it was hard to leave her family behind to return to Blessing and finish her hands-on training after the family emergency. But what to do about her feelings for Trygve? And what about the radical few in Blessing who would not accept non-Norwegians and openly insulted her?
Miriam is welcomed by Ingeborg Bjorklund, her daughter Dr. Astrid Bjorklund Jeffers and daughter-in-law Dr. Elizabeth Bjorklund. Also welcoming her are Trygve’s parents, Kaaren Knutson, his siblings and their children. Ingeborg and Kaaren ensure that Miriam is included in various activities, including making warm clothing for those in the tent town who await construction completion. Her fellow nursing students, including trainees from the nearby Indian reservation, work together to ensure the safety and healing of their patients. But in the midst of this wealth of friendships, Miriam struggles with believing in the God they love.
Small town life and farming is not without challenges. There are those who, in the church that Trygve’s family attends, are openly rejecting of those who worship differently than they – which still occurs today. The few who want non-Norwegian immigrants to leave bring dissension. Reaping the harvest while trying to complete housing with a labor and cash flow shortage brings continual trials. Then the explosion occurs, the resulting fire may destroy the hospital, bank, and most of the town. Can Blessing survive this harvest time, or succomb to bankruptcy and destruction?
The characters include many of the Bjorklund and Knutson family members that have been in other series about Blessing; the characters may overlap but each return to the Red River Valley is like coming home again. Lauraine Snelling has a talented, descriptive hand for demonstrating who each character is and how they are part of the whole. Her gift of bringing them to life through their conversations and actions is evident through how real each person is to this reader. Primary characteristics of these families include faith, family, and friends, in that order. Talents are many amidst this hard-working band of residents. It amazes this reader how much each person accomplishes each and every day. They seek solutions rather than bemoaning challenges. Whatever needs to be done gets done, with each helping the other. The most outstanding characteristic of Trygve’s family is faith in God. Their memory of scripture and their prayer life is evident in every trying circumstance and every celebration – a trait that I appreciate seeing in practice. Successes belong to a group or family rather than to an individual, and decisions are made for the common good.
Ms Snelling’s plot is as a finely-woven tapestry. This is not simply a romance between Miriam and Trygve, or just a family saga. It is a way of life, a way of faith, and how each person contributes to the overall design. It is rich with history, beauty, and faith, as well as worshipping in freedom. I love this book! I highly recommend Harvest of Hope to those who have enjoyed Lauraine Snelling’s other Blessing novels, who appreciate Christian fiction that personifies faith in action, and historical fiction of early 1900’s north central United States. Oh yes, and romance and family sagas, too. It could be considered appropriate for teens and adults of any age.