In 1910 Minnesota, Nilda Carlson's dreams are coming true. Though her first few months in America were difficult, her life now resembles the images that filled her daydreams in Norway. She and her younger brother Ivar live in their own house, just a short distance from her older brother and his family. Together they work the farm and fell trees for lumber. They plan to grow a dairy herd, weave rugs out of their own wool, and make skis to sell. Everything is going right.
The only thing missing from Nilda's life is love. But though she has two suitorsa quiet schoolteacher and a handsome lumberjackNilda feels hesitant. A terrifying experience in Norway has made her cautious where men are concerned. When she thinks she sees the man in question, all her fears come flooding back. Is it possible the danger has followed her across the Atlantic? If Dreng Nygaard is truly in Minnesota, all of her dreams for the future could come crashing down around her.
About the Author
Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than 70 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold more than 5 million copies. Besides writing books and articles, she teaches at writers' conferences across the country. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California. Learn more at www.laurainesnelling.com.
Read an Excerpt
The rocking chair on the porch made all the difference.
Nilda Carlson grinned at her sister-in-law and best friend, Signe. "There's no furniture inside yet, but now this house looks more like a home."
Signe smiled. "Pinch me. I must be dreaming."
Nilda did as she was told.
"Ouch." Signe rubbed the spot on her arm. "You didn't have to do it, you know."
"I know, but it's not often I get an offer like that. But believe it — you are moving into your very first brand-new house that you and my brother own! I can't wait for the housewarming party tomorrow. Our hours of hard work are not over, but tonight you will sleep in your own bed in this very house."
"And still eat and cook at Gerd's house until our cookstove arrives." Signe sat down in the rocking chair, shaking her head. She looked up at Nilda. "I have an idea, something that has been mulling in my mind."
"I think I know what you are thinking." Nilda laid her hand on Signe's shoulder. "Moving Gerd in with you."
Signe nodded. "How did you guess? It makes so much sense. I cannot bear to take Kirstin away from her. She can have the bedroom off the kitchen so she needn't climb the stairs. Rune agreed. Said he was thinking the same thing."
"Then it makes sense to move her furniture over here too, or at least part of it. When will you tell her — er, ask her?"
"Probably tomorrow, if we can wait that long. Maybe tonight."
That leaves only Ivar and me living in Gerd's house.
They watched Bjorn, Signe's oldest, halt the wagon that held the rope bed from the attic, along with the bedding and the trunks Signe and Rune had brought from Norway not much more than a year earlier.
"So much change in so little time." Signe leaned her head against the back of the chair.
"So much change in just the three months Ivar and I have been here. Let's go help unload the wagon and get the beds made for tonight. Although yours is the only one that will take any time. Throwing the boys' pallets on the floor won't take but a minute."
"Which room do you want?" Rune called as he and Ivar, Signe's younger brother, carried the two-by-ten boards for the bed frame up the stairs. Boards waiting to be hung for the walls took up space in all the bedrooms and in the hall. Bare studs enclosed the rooms. Finishing the interior walls was a good job for stormy days and wintertime.
Nilda smiled at her best friend as they stood in the upper hall. "You get to choose a room!"
"I-I ..." Signe looked from doorway to doorway.
Rune and Ivar were both shaking their heads.
"I ..." Signe sucked in a deep breath and pointed to the east room. "I want that one so I can wake up to see the dawn. I've always loved seeing the sun come up."
"How would you know?" Rune asked. "You are always down in the kitchen by that time."
"Why, Rune Carlson, you just made a joke." Nilda shared a grin with Ivar. "We'll let you two get your job done and start hauling up the rest of the wagon load."
While the men bolted the bed frame back together, the two women emptied the wagon. What had seemed like a lot in the wagon felt like very little in the empty rooms. They set the trunk from Norway under the window at the opposite end of the hall from the stairs and laid out the boys' pallets and bedding in the room beside Signe and Rune's.
"Mor?" Leif called from downstairs. "We got the beans picked and snapped. Tante Gerd said to tell you that Kirstin is missing you."
The two women left their cleaning bucket and returned to the other house to help get the beans on to can and make sure Kirstin did not get to the screaming stage, something she rarely did. But when she did, the whole township might hear her.
Kirstin was back to her happy self, the boiler of beans was steaming, and Signe was packing beans in more jars when Gerd called a halt for dinner.
"The bed is finished," Rune said as they sat down to eat. "I was hoping to have the others made by now too, but ..."
"But you are still doing the finish work inside and outside at the house." Gerd gave him a stern look. "Be careful you don't get obsessed with finishing the house like Einar did with felling trees."
All of them stared at Gerd. Nilda made sure she closed her mouth. Tante Gerd Strand did not say a whole lot, but when she did, the wisdom she'd kept in hiding peeked out. Since her husband, Einar, had died so suddenly about six weeks earlier, she had become a different woman — one none of them realized had been inside her.
"Takk for the reminder, Tante Gerd," Rune said while nodding.
"I guess all the things I wanted to get done before the housewarming might be good to do, but aren't necessary."
Nilda glanced at the loaves of bread rising in the pans. There were beans in jars on the stove, beans ready to cook with bacon tomorrow for the party, and a haunch of smoked venison waiting to be put in the oven in the morning.
"This afternoon I think you need to take a nap with Kirstin, Tante Gerd. You've been pushing as hard if not harder than the rest of us," Signe said gently.
"We've never had a party at this place before. It is about time." A faraway look crept over Gerd's face. "I always dreamed of having neighbors come to our house, to visit together like we did at home, but at first Einar and I were working too hard and then ..." Her voice drifted off. She heaved a sigh and nodded. The look floated on by. "But now is different."
They all watched her while they ate.
She nodded more firmly. "Now we — I — can start over again."
The silence lengthened, as if no one even wanted to breathe, they were so focused on her. Kirstin set her chair to rocking and babbled at her fingers.
Leif turned to Tante Gerd sitting beside him. "And we can have a party with lots of good food."
"And music and dancing." Ivar nudged his brother. "Maybe even your far will dance," he said to the boys. "He always said he had two left feet and they liked to trip each other."
"Do you know how to dance?" Leif asked Tante Gerd.
She nodded. "I used to. If I try, will you dance with me?"
"If you teach me how."
She held out her hand. "Deal."
They shook. "Deal." Leif gave a little bounce on his chair. "This is going to be a real good party."
I just hope people are not afraid to come. Einar had made many enemies; in fact, just about no one liked the Strands. Nilda prayed that would change soon. She was careful to keep any doubt from her face. Sometimes memories were hard to dispel.
That evening after the chores and supper were done, and the lightning bugs were starting to twinkle in the dusk, the boys were raking around the new house while the adults enjoyed a last cup of coffee on the porch of the old house.
"Tante Gerd, Signe and I have made a decision, and we hope you will agree with us," Rune said.
Gerd paused playing with Kirstin. "What might that be?"
"We would like you to come live with us in the new house. You would have the bedroom off the kitchen so you needn't climb the stairs and, well, this is just what we would like to do."
"We think it would be easier," Signe added softly. "And better."
"I-I — but that is your house."
"Not really. It seems more to us it is our house, like you said this one is our house. Not the Strand house or the Carlson house, but our houses. Maybe the old one and the new one, but both are ours."
Nilda waited for Gerd to answer. Please, she pleaded silently. This would be for the best.
Gerd's voice shimmered with tears. "I ..." Another pause lengthened, broken by her blowing her nose and sniffing. "Could we have Kirstin's bed in that bedroom too?"
"If you would like, though you know how she wakes sometimes during the night."
At nine months old, Kirstin sometimes woke in the night and stood in her crib, shaking the bars and chattering until her mor took her to bed with her and nursed her back to sleep. They laughingly called her their night owl.
"I can't give her all she wants, but I do know how to call for help," Gerd said.
"Is that a yes?" Rune asked.
"Ja. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am, that — that after all that has happened since you came, you really want me to live in your new house with you. I have a perfectly good house here, and like you said, I would see this baby every day and ..." She sniffed again. "Takk, tusen takk."
Signe bobbed her head. "Good. Then on Sunday we will move you and your bedroom over to the new house along with whatever else you want to bring."
Gerd brightened. "If I move over there, we could set up the loom and spinning wheel here. Nilda and Ivar can live here, and if Gunlaug ever comes, she can live here too. That way we can have a women's workshop here and add on to the one by the barn for Rune to make skis and furniture in the winter." She nodded emphatically as if adding an exclamation point.
Rune smiled. "Sounds like you have it all planned out."
The boys skidded to a stop at the porch steps. "Is there any cake left? We're hungry. And then we're going to the new house, right?" Knute and Leif tripped over each other's words. Nilda lit the kerosene lamp in the kitchen and set it in the middle of the table. "More coffee?"
"Nei, the stove is nearly out. How about buttermilk?" Signe suggested. "Knute, please get the crock from the well house while we cut the cake."
When they were seated at the table, Rune looked around at each member of his family. "I think the way we are going, we will soon need a bigger table."
"Well, good thing the kitchen in the new house is bigger, then." Ivar grinned. "We'd better get to building, Rune. You think the lumberyard has enough walnut or maple? Or would you rather use pine?"
Gerd nodded. "I think you should use pine. It seems fitting, even though it's a softer wood. I remember when Einar hired a portable sawmill to cut up one of our pine trees for use around here. We built the chicken house and machine shop from that and a lot of the fencing. Isn't there still a pile of lumber behind the machine shed?"
"We used some of it for adding to the pigpen. All those babies needed room to run and grow in." Leif sneaked a bit of his cake down for his half-grown puppy, Rufus, who had latched onto Leif like a long-lost brother. The Bensons had given them the white puppy with black and brown spots after Einar died. Leif grinned when he caught his mor's look. Somehow the rules of not feeding the dog at the table and the dog sleeping on the porch were sliding into oblivion.
When the cake was gone, Rune and his family gathered up what they needed and trooped out the doorway.
On the porch, Gerd hugged each of them as if they were heading out on a journey. "I know, I know, this is silly, but ..."
Signe laughed. "Not silly at all. We are the silly ones to want to sleep in our new house before it is really ready and before the housewarming. No stove or sink or anything. But we have beds, at least ours and Kirstin's."
"See you in the morning, Tante Gerd." Leif waved before he and Knute charged off toward the newly painted house that glowed white against the dark of the pinewoods.
"We need to remember to ask Reverend Skarstead to bless the new house before the party tomorrow," Nilda said as she followed Gerd back into the kitchen. "I will do the dishes first thing in the morning."
"It seems awful quiet here now." Gerd headed for her bedroom. "'Night."
"'Night." Nilda put the plates and glasses in the dishpan on the stove. The reservoir was still hot enough to do the dishes, but instead she followed Ivar up the stairs to their bedrooms in the attic. A sheet hung across the middle to make two rooms. One day soon, they would finish the attic, but they needed beds first.
She lay down on her pallet and felt sleep creep over her. Ah, peace.
* * *
"Nei, nei! Leave me alone! Nei! Not again!"
Nilda shoved against his chest, hammering with one hand while the man clenched her other wrist. He backed her against the wall and fumbled at her bodice. Twisting her head away, she kicked at his legs.
"Oh, I love a feisty one," he growled in her ear. "I've been patient, but now I am tired of waiting."
"Nei!" She panted against the weight of his body pressing her into the wall. "God help me, I can't bear this! Nei!"
"Nilda, stop. It's all right. It's only a dream." Ivar's voice broke into her scream. He was shaking her shoulders.
Nilda struggled against the sheet wrapped around her, her breath ripping at her throat. The darkness of the attic room was safe. No one was tearing at her.
"You kept screaming. What were you dreaming?" Ivar asked.
"Dreng. Dreng Nygaard was attacking me. I couldn't break free of him." She gulped in air.
"It was a nightmare. He is not here. Nilda, he'd never find you. You're safe."
"But he said he would get even."
"He is all threats and bombast. He's probably starved to death by now. After all, he doesn't know how to work, and his far refused to give him any money. He paid the ticket, put Dreng on the ship, and he was on his own."
"Are you sure?"
"We threatened to tell everyone what had been going on. Mr. Nygaard was furious that his son had acted like that to young women."
Nilda sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. A bad dream. A horrible dream, but so real. Surely he wouldn't really be able to find her.
Stretched out on her hay-stuffed pallet, she stared out the window at the stars and tried to find that peace again. So much change already. What would the coming months bring?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Season of Grace"
Copyright © 2018 Lauraine Snelling.
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Season of Grace by Lauraine Snelling is book 3 in her series called Under Northern Skies. It is the first of this series that I have personally read. I found that it was interesting with the Norwegian exposure that it provided. Coming to America, to a new place and learning to take on a new language and be fluent in it. The main character was adventurous, brave, smart, and given great opportunities to succeed. The family unit was fun to watch unfold. A great read that I recommend to you. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
A Season of Grace by Lauraine Snelling has us traveling to Benson’s Corner, Minnesota in August of 1910. Rune and Signe Carlson are moving into their new home with their children. Gerd Strand will also be joining them leaving her old home for Nilda and her younger brother, Ivar. Nilda is enjoying living in America with her family, but she still has nightmares of Dreng Nygaard attacking her. They are becoming less frequent and she hopes they will go away with time. Rune and Signe have a housewarming party and Nilda finds that she has two gentlemen interested in courting her. Petter Thorvaldson, a lumberjack they met on their trip to Benson’s Corner, and Fritz Larsson, the local schoolteacher, are both interested in Nilda. The family then receives news that their father has passed away and Gunlaug Carlson, their mother, wishes to immigrate to America to be near her children which pleases the family. Nilda and Ivar are invited to a young person’s social at Mrs. Gertrude Schoenleber’s home and the ladies quickly whip up a new dress for Nilda to wear. Nilda is shocked when Petter walks in with Dreng. That night her nightmares return with a vengeance, and Nilda is afraid Dreng will exact revenge he promised. Mrs. Schoenleber offers Nilda a position as her assistant which will provide wonderful opportunities for Nilda. The only downside of her new job is encountering Dreng who has managed to charm the local ladies. Will Nilda be able to move forward with her life or will Dreng’s attack continue to haunt her? A Season of Grace is the third installment in Under Northern Skies series. This is a series that you need to read in order. Each book in Under Northern Skies series builds upon the previous one. We have watched the various characters adapt to America and they are beginning to prosper. Rune and Signe are thrilled to have their own home, but they do not want to leave Gerd behind. Gerd has blossomed since the Carlson’s have come into her life and she has come out of her shell since her husband passed away. I have enjoyed watching Gerd’s journey. The focus of A Season of Grace is Nilda. She is given a wonderful opportunity by Mrs. Schoenleber that will allow her to learn how to read and write English properly, meet new people, live in a larger city, learn proper etiquette, get new clothing and a chance to travel. Lauraine Snelling has created such lovely, heartwarming characters that I look forward to visiting in each new Under Northern Skies book. I like hearing about how the farm is prospering. We get to experience the daily life on a farm which includes taking care of the animals, making their own cheese and butter, cutting wood to keep the fireplaces going, butchering the animals, making soap, creating their furniture, and much more. If you are looking for a book full of action, then A Season of Grace is not for you. There is activity at the end of the story as Nilda’s story with Dreng reaches its climax. Dreng is the dark element in the story. The Christian elements are beautifully woven into the story. The family is grateful for each blessing in their life. Prayer, grace, hope, and forgiveness are other Christian elements in the book. A Season of Grace proceeds at a gentle pace which I enjoyed. It allowed me to appreciate and absorb the story. I am giving A Season of Grace 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I look forward to visiting the Carlson family again in the next Under Northern Skies novel.
Lauraine Snelling is known for her beloved “Red River Series” and many other books. Her latest series is “Under Northern Skies.” A Season of Grace, Book3 in the series, continues the story of Rune’s younger sister Nilda and their younger brother, Ivar, who, in Book 2, immigrated to America to join their family in the northern forests of Minnesota. Nilda is offered a dream job with Mrs. Schoenleber, an older woman Nilda and Ivar met on the train when they first arrived. Her new life in Blackduck seems perfect as Mrs. Schoenleber’s personal assistant until she runs into Dreng Nygaard. He had tried to assault Nilda in Norway and was banished to America as a result. She never expected he would find her again. Has he really changed, or is it a charade. Nilda is haunted by nightmares of a man in a black hat chasing her. Is this a premonition of things to come or just a nightmare? I fell in love with these characters in Books 1 and 2, as I have in Lauraine’s other books, and I anxiously look forward to subsequent books in the “Under North Skies Series.”
This is the third in the Under the Northern Skies series and I am really enjoying this series. It's about a family that immigrated from Norway, first Rune and Signe and their children, then Rune's brother and sister, Ivar and Nilda, and then finally Rune's mom. To me, this series is book about real life. Bad stuff happens. When Rune's family gets there, they are shocked and dismayed at the conditions they are subjected to, but it gets better. It's a lot of hard work, but fun and laughter also come. This third book is more about Nilda than the rest of the family. Honestly, if you read the second paragraph in the description of the book, it sounds like this is a love story. Here it is: The only thing missing from Nilda's life is love. But though she has two suitors--a quiet schoolteacher and a handsome lumberjack--Nilda feels hesitant. A terrifying experience in Norway has made her cautious where men are concerned. When she thinks she sees the man in question, all her fears come flooding back. Is it possible the danger has followed her across the Atlantic? If Dreng Nygaard is truly in Minnesota, all of her dreams for the future could come crashing down around her. But it's not. To me, that paragraph is not a very realistic picture of what the book is about. Yes, there was a terrifying experience in Norway and yes the man followed her to the United States. And Nilda had to really work on her feelings for him. She had to choose to forgive him and yes, there was some scary stuff going on. But the two suitors? They were hinted at a bit and the process was starting, but Nilda was involved in so much more than trying to decide what man to marry. To me the story is so much bigger than that. Like I said, this series of books is about real life. I will say that Nilda did land what appears to be a dream job, but it also involved a lot of hard work, with almost 24/7 English lessons and lessons on how to function in America with all the social rules, etc. of the day. And the book is about more than Nilda. The rest of the family is also actively portrayed in this book, along with some new characters. I don't want to say much more there, because I don't want to give any spoilers. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one in the series. I just love the honest down to earth way of writing Lauraine has in these books. The way the family deals with grief is to get busy, which is a little countercultural to today's philosophy a lot of times, but I think there is some truth in it as well. Along with that philosophy, you are looking at a family that is close knit and thriving. I received this book from Bethany House through NetGalley and was not required to write a review.
3.5 stars This is not your typical historical romance. This is the third in the Under Northern Skies series and I feel you need to read them all to get the best understanding of the story line. I have not read them all and struggled a little but it is still a good story. This series seems to focus on an entire family and friends, where they all play important rolls in the entire story. Nilda Carlson is the main character in this particular novel and she must learn a lot about herself and the country she now lives in.
A good title! and love that cover. It was again so good to return to this family from Norway. Good to settle into the stories of the blessings in their lives mixed with hard work and coping with hardships, ups and downs, shared by all in this close family. They really make me hungry though, reading of the wonderful things they make to eat! The family lives on a farm, but Nilda is offered a position as an assistant to a very wealthy woman. Working for her is nothing like she left in Norway, as she is a kind and thoughtful person who loves to take care of people. Nilda is getting closer to two young men, but it remains to be seen if she will choose either of them. She is still pursued by the horrible young man who tried to abuse her in Norway, making for many tense times. Working through this with the support of her family and new friends is a learning experience for her - a stretching of her wings yet learning to rely on God and others for support. As always a fabulous read that you won't want to end. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” #AseasonOfGrace #NetGalley