Hello, friends! I have a review for you today for a historical Christian fiction novel, The Promise of Dawn.
From the back cover:
When Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three boys arrive in Minnesota from Norway to help a relative clear his land of lumber, they dream of owning their own farm and building a life in the New World. But Uncle Einar and Aunt Gird are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone in order to repay the cost of their voyage. At this rate, they will never have land or a life of their own.
Signe tries to trust God but struggles with anger and bitterness. She has left behind the only life she knew, and while it wasn’t an easy life, it wasn’t as hard as what she now faces. When a new addition to the family arrives, Signe begins to see how God has been watching over them throughout their ordeal. But after all that has happened, can she still believe in the promise of a bright future?
I haven’t read a Lauraine Snelling book for years, but I have really enjoyed them in the past, so I was excited when the opportunity arose to review her newest release, The Promise of Dawn, the first book in Snelling’s new Under Northern Skies series. The backcover blurb interested me, especially because boy-meets-girl romance didn’t appear to central to the storyline – Rather, it appeared to be more a family story of real life, which I often love. 🙂
While the beginning of this novel felt a little slow to me as it skimmed and summarized Signe and Rune’s immigration to America, the story picked up its pace about 40 pages into it, and I found myself deeply involved in the vividly-portrayed struggles of Signe, Rune, and their boys as they attempted to carve a new life for themselves in a land of opportunity. The story has a Little-House-on-the-Prairie feeling to it – I love Little House! 🙂 – and I really enjoyed following the characters’ little moment-by-moment difficulties and solutions.
Now, for the bit that put a bad taste in my mouth for me… I understand that life on a farm is not just hayrides in October. 🙂 Death is a very real part of it. But a very sad part of it. 🙁 A part of it toward which we should not callous ourselves or our children. And unfortunately, The Promise of Dawn sometimes does encourage an insensitive and ugly attitude toward living creatures that God has made for His joy. This is so unfortunate that this was included and even highlighted at times… In all honesty, this insensitivity and grim pleasure in suffering caused to other creatures ruined the novel for me. 🙁 Which made me sad as a reader because I *loved* so much where the book was heading – I wanted to find out what happened with Signe, Rune, the uncle, the ailing aunt, the boys… (*spoiler*) But my mind kept coming back to what Signe forced her boys to do to the baby mice – She tells her children to throw the live baby mice to the cats. (Completely unnecessary, as she has no problem killing the mother mouse quickly with a broom, so why not kill the babies quickly as well?) Later, this attitude toward them is “justified” when it is explained that, when Signe tried to rescue a mouse as a child, it bit her in fright and so, out of revenge, she locked that mouse in a grain barrel with a cat. Awful and nasty, obviously, but an attitude that Christ will set us free from if we will let Him.
Again, it is not the killing of the mice that really bothered me – obviously, if your house is infested, you have to get rid of the mice in the most humane way possible. My problem was with the calloused attitude Signe had toward the mice and which she encouraged in her children, as well as her not being merciful (in an otherwise fairly merciful character) in the way in which she killed them. No one should *torture* something to death. Period. And that is what would have happened to those baby mice. (See Proverbs 12:10 for a Biblical passage on kindness vs. cruelty to animals.)
I dislike saying so much about this aspect because a lot of the rest of the story really did fascinate me, especially up until that happened with the mice, but after that, it was difficult for me to enjoy it, as I felt a strong dislike for Signe as a character. The other Snelling books that I have read I have really enjoyed and never noticed this insensitivity in them. This one just was not my cup of tea for the reason I noted above.
I received a copy of this novel from Bethany House Publishers. All thoughts are my own.