The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling

The Promise of Dawn book cover

Rune and Signe Carlson take a leap of faith and move their family across the ocean from Norway to America in hopes of a better life by accepting an offer from Signe’s uncle to work on their farm. Signe is hesitant for the journey and the life of the unknown, but she trusts her husband’s promises of open, free land and better opportunities. However, upon arrival to Minnesota, Signe’s optimistic expectations are dashed when she encounters a sourly aunt and uncle and lots more work than she planned. As her hope of a better life begins to fade, Signe also finds herself struggling with her faith in God. It may take tragedy and strength to draw her back to her dreams and her Savior.

Lauraine Snelling always does a great job of in-depth research of historical facts and lives and this novel is no exception. The descriptive scenes allow me to easily visualize the life the Signe must have endured as a young Norwegian immigrant. Although the list of daily chores and activities at times overshadows the storyline and slows it down, I nonetheless enjoyed reading about their lives and circumstances. The characters face realistic trials that strengthen them and allow me to connect with their growth in faith. I look forward to more stories in the series and recommend this first installment in the new saga!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Return book cover

Betsy Zook feels like her life is coming together—she has a wonderful family, beautiful looks, and the attentions of the handsome and devoted Hans. But her life is suddenly changed forever when she’s taken captive in a surprise Indian raid and removed from all she holds dear. She is stunned to meet a comfort during her captivity, a native who encourages her to seek God despite her circumstances. Tessa Bauer is jealous of Betsy’s perfect life and particularly envious of Hans’ devoted attention. When Betsy is taken captive, she is ashamed but thrilled when Hans turns to her for comfort. She overlooks Hans’ simmering anger as she grows closer to Hans during Betsy’s absence. Inspired by true events, Betsy and Tessa maneuver life in prerevolutionary Pennsylvania among the Amish and the Native Americans, growing and maturing in ways they had never imagined.

I have mentioned before on my blog that I am not a big reader of Amish fiction, but I have immensely enjoyed this series Amish Beginnings by Suzanne Woods Fisher. I particularly liked this third installment and think it is my favorite of the series. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried—often—during this novel. The author does a phenomenal job of crafting deep emotions that encourages the reader to feel the same feelings as the characters. I loved Betsy and admired her strength and ability to overcome her circumstances. Even though Tessa made mistakes and errors, her actions are not unlike shameful sins I too have performed, allowing me to connect with her as well. I also find it fascinating that many of the events in the novel are based on true events, a testament to the author’s ability to perform research of interesting history. Not everything works out perfectly in the end (although the story does have a good conclusion), which I always find to be a more honest and relatable way to write books. It is not necessary to read the first two books to understand this third one, but I do encourage readers to also give those books a try. I truly cannot recommend this novel enough, even for those who do not consider themselves fans of Amish fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.