My favorite kind of book, historical fiction like this. The character of Ingrid just amazed me. Such a strong woman as many had to be to endure living in those times. Couldn't put this book down. Lost a lot of sleep reading this one!
After enduring being mistreated by her employer, Swedish immigrant Ingrid Larsen leaves service, but with nowhere to go. When a kind widower loses his children to his in-laws, Ingrid speaks up with a proposal of marriage - she will get a home and family, and he will get to keep his children. Marriage solves their immediate problems, but it creates a whole host of new ones: what do you do with a spouse you don't love? How do you deal with a spouse who doesn't love you back? How do you build a loving home with a complete stranger?
Though she writes a well-rounded novel, with excellent character development, well-researched history, and a solid plot, Miller does not write about easy subjects. Marriage between strangers is not a light subject; it involves sacrifice by both parties to survive. Being unloved is heart-breaking, but being forced to marry while in love with someone else - even if that person is gone forever - is no easier.
I'm proud of Ingrid - she sticks with the marriage, even after being rejected by her husband; she could easily have walked out on him with an annulment, but she stays to give the children the mother they need. For all her hard work, she is not a doormat; she sets rules and expects them to be obeyed, especially by her husband. Even in the face of a loveless marriage, she showers love on the family anyway and perseveres. It is not easy, and she discovers that she has to do it to please God, since pleasing man is nearly impossible. She is a model of strength and self-sacrifice.
At first I was not sure if I was going to enjoy it as much as The Measure of Katie Calloway, but because Miller did not mince on the difficulties of their marriage, but rather focused on how much went into making it work, I ended up really enjoying it. Really, what man who is in love with his dead wife will be attracted to another woman so soon after her death, especially when she has nothing in common with the deceased? That alone sets this book apart from so many other stories of arranged marriages - there is zero attraction on his part. It felt realistic while I was reading it, and then when I found out that some of that really happened to the author's grandmother, I was even more impressed. I highly recommend it.
Set in Michigan in 1871, this is the story of Ingrid, an almost too good to be true Swedish woman who amazed me more and more as each chapter passed with how hard she could work, how powerfully she could love, how quickly she could forgive! Incredible!! She takes on recently widowed Joshua and his 5 grief-stricken children, his neglected home, and his ailing mother. She wins victories over grief, his ex - in-laws, the drought, and a wildfire, all by her strength of faith and her shear determination. The fire scenes are so well written, I couldn't stop reading. A lovely surprise awaits Ingrid towards the end. I wont spoil it for you - you'll enjoy finding out for yourself!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and therefore gave it a rating of 5/5 stars. The book starts with the character of Joshua and as you get to know him you can't help but like him. During his difficult circumstances his love for his family is evident. The other main character, Ingrid, is harder to like. As you read more of the story though her personality finally wins you over. I thought the story was well written, flowed well and was a very easy read. I will definitely read anything written by this author! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian fiction books set in the late 1800's.
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
What a book! Such a wonderful story about life and a real love story of 2 people needing each other. While your heart breaks for them you will also find yourself laughing and crying. Again!! such a GREAT book by Serena Miller. 20 thumbs up!!