Lauraine Snelling’s Dakota Plans series is made up of five novellas about Norwegian immigrants to North Dakota in the early 1900s. The first three, Dakota Dawn, Dakota Dream, and Dakota Dusk, were packaged together in an audiobook I reviewed here.
The last two, Dakota December and Dakota Destiny, were packaged together in a separate audiobook.
In Dakota December, Sheriff Caleb Stenesrude’s dog needed to go out during a Christmas Eve blizzard, but then stayed out yipping instead of coming back in. Caleb went out to see what was wrong and found a woman collapsed on a horse. He caught her as she fell and discovered a young child clinging to her. When he brought them into the house, he saw that the woman was with child. Her cries let him know she was in labor. He was in for a unique Christmas Eve.
Later, the woman, Johanna Carlson, is ensconced with her children in a widow’s home until she can recover and the weather settles down. She’s reluctant to tell these good people her troubles. But she needs to get away as soon as possible, before her angry and violent husband finds them.
In Dakota Destiny, Pastor Moen’s daughter, Mary, is grown up and in a teacher’s school, thanks to a wealthy benefactress. Mary is in love with Will, the blacksmith’s apprentice we met in the second book, who is also now grown up. But when World War I begins, Will feels he must enlist. Mary spends the summer taking care of a sick woman’s children while Will goes to training camp and then out to sea. When Mary goes back to school, she receives the devastating news that Will is missing and presumed dead.
She carries on with her school and finds her first job as a teacher. A year later, another man seeks her hand. But she can’t shake the feeling that Will is still alive.
The last book was much shorter and seemed a little underdeveloped. It was odd that characters in books 3 and 4 had the same last name, but didn’t seem to be related to each other. The narrator of all the books was really good, but used a different voice for the pastor in book 4 than in the rest of the books. And I disagreed with a statement in the last book that we are all God’s children (we’re not).
But otherwise, I enjoyed both these books. A few characters from the previous books were rarely mentioned again, but others played prominent parts. I’m going to miss this little community. I especially appreciated an older lady, Mrs. Norgard, and the ways she found to help and encourage people.
Yay for a book with a good “older” character! Sometimes I get tired of books with seemingly all 20-somethings. I wonder if the “we’re all God’s children” comment was to help get the books classified as “Christian”? It reminded me of a soap opera I watched in college. When the very secular characters would pray, it would be something like, “God, if you’ve ever answered a prayer, make it this one.” I do love books where I miss the “community” when I’m done.
The “all God’s children” comment was in the context of the brewing first World War. A pastor said he couldn’t think it was right because “we’re all God’s children, German, American, British,” etc. Even if that were true, some of the kids were severely misbehaving and needed to be stopped! I think it would have been more accurate theologically to have a problem with war because we’re all made in God’s image. That’s one of the horrors of war–sending people off into eternity. But I don’t know how someone like Hitler would have been stopped otherwise.
Barbara, hi! I keep thinking I need to try an audio book. But I like the quietness when driving or walking. I still love a hefty hardcover in my hands …
Pingback: March Reflections | Stray Thoughts