The inspirational series Under Northern Skies by Lauraine Snelling wonderfully commemorates the Thanksgiving holiday. This four-book set tells the story of the Norwegian family the Carlsons who emigrated from Norway at the beginning of the 20th century. Rune Carlson, his pregnant wife Signe, and their three sons Leif, Bjorn, and Knute respond to an invitation from Rune's Uncle Einor and Aunt Gerd Strand to move to Minnesota. Einor needs help felling trees on his land and offers to pay for their voyage. He gives Rune the option of felling trees as a reimbursement for the voyage expenses. The first book in this series also introduces us to Rune's siblings Nilda and Ivor who emigrate to Minnesota later in this series.
The first book in this series is The Promise of Dawn. Rune, Signe, and their three sons arrive in Minnesota with the hopes of eventually owning their own farm and having a better life in the new world. Uncle Einor and Aunt Gerda unpleasantly surprise them with their hostile and abusive treatment. Einor is an unyielding taskmaster with the tree felling and his ailing wife Gerda runs Signe ragged with her caretaking demands. Einor always treats Signe with contempt and is verbally abusive to Leif, Bjorn, and Knute. Uncle Einor's demands cause Bjorn to break his arm and partially lose his hearing. Signe is expected to climb a ladder to go to bed in spite of her delicate condition. She eventually falls off the ladder and this incident induces her labor. Elinor threatens to send them back to Norway, so they are forced to endure this harsh treatment. Is all this suffering worth the Carlsons fulfilling their dreams of a better life?
The second book The Breath of Hope brings some welcome changes in the midst of the Carlson family's tribulations, but Uncle Elinor does not change. Signe's forgiving attitude and patience finally soften Aunt Gerd's bitter disposition. Aunt Gerd helps Signe during her difficult pregnancy and Signe's infant daughter survives. Rune begins construction on his new home and takes no more abuse from Uncle Einor. The novel also re-introduces Rune's Siblings Nilda and Ivor when they emigrate to Minnesota. Nilda and Ivor meet an elderly lady named Gertrude Schoenleber who invites them to stay at her home before their final journey to Signe and Rune's home. Nilda accepts a job offer from Ms. Schoenleber. In spite of Nilda's good fortune, she cannot forget the frightening experience in her homeland. Nilda's employer's son name Dweng tried to assault her. Dweng's father sent him to America as punishment for his inappropriate behavior. Will he pursue Nilda to obtain revenge?
During the third book, The Season of Grace Signe and Rune finally have their own home. The spotlight is now on Nilda who begins her life in Minnesota. Nilda is now working as a companion for the wealthy Gertrude Schoenleber who lives in town. Nilda has the opportunity to learn English, learn to play the piano, and attend social events. Nilda has at least two potential suitors. Nilda's misgivings about Dweng come true because Ms. Schoenleber receives him at her social events. The local ladies are taken with his superficial charm. Has Dweng really changed, or will Nilda's nightmare continue?
Nilda's story continues in the Fourth and Final Book A Song of Joy. The nightmare experience regarding Dweng has not quite concluded. Nilda now has the new responsibility of assisting Ms. Schoenleber's philanthropy project of helping immigrants adjust in their new community. Two of Ms. Schoenleber's nephews are interested in Nilda, and they are polar opposites of each other. One nephew is a spoiled socialite, and the other nephew is Nilda's piano teacher. When will the unrelenting nightmare regarding Dweng finally end, and which suitor will Nilda choose?
Read this delightful series about these 20th-century pilgrims, and you will fall in love with the characters.