My rating: 4 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads.com
The Long-Awaited Prequel to the RED RIVER OF THE NORTH Series
Twenty-year-old Ingeborg Strand is certain she is destined to be an old maid. She's had several suitors but none she deemed worthy of spending her life with. That is, until she meets a university student from Oslo, and feelings stronger than friendship begin to develop between them. But tragedy strikes, and the future begins to look bleaker than ever.
Grief settles heavily over Ingeborg, and her mother suggests that she leave Norway and start afresh in America, as so many others have done before her. But how will she accomplish that with little money and no one to accompany her?
It isn't long before she meets Roald Bjorklund, a widower who has been planning to go to America for some time, lured by the promise of free land. He's a good man, a hard-working man--and he has a young son who desperately needs a mother. He's clearly interested in Ingeborg, but is he the answer to her prayers? And what about love? This isn't how she's always imagined it.
Ingeborg Strand has a heartrending decision to make...
I didn't read the synopsis before I read this book, so I had no hint or warning about the tragedy. I also didn't realize it was a prequel to an already published series, so when the story ended, I was happily surprised to discover that I don't have to wait to start the next book! I even had the first book in the series already on my kindle since it is a freebie on Amazon :)
So, I love the character of Ingeborg. She is strong, industrious, compassionate, and thoughtful. There is much description of the farm, its chores, and tasks. It started out somewhat slowly since it is told from both Ingeborg and Nils' perspectives, but they don't meet until about halfway through the book. I enjoyed her interactions with her siblings and cousins. What an amazing thing that the children of the family take the flocks into the mountains and live there all summer with no adult supervision other than Ingeborg and her best friend/cousin who are in their very early twenties. There is some excitement in the story, but overall I'd say this is a descriptive and introspective novel to be read at leisure.
(ARC provided via Netgalley for unbiased review)