Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Book Review: A Season of Grace

Season of Grace. (Under Northern Skies #3) Lauraine Snelling. 2018. Bethany House.  320  pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
August 1910
The rocking chair on the porch made all the difference.
Premise/plot: A Season of Grace by Lauraine Snelling is the third book in the Under the Northern Skies series. The first two books in the series are The Promise of Dawn and A Breath of Hope. The books focus on a Norwegian immigrant family as they settle down in America at the turn of the century.

The first book primarily focuses on Signe and Rune and their children. The second book introduces more of their family: Nilda and her brother Ivar. (Both are siblings of Rune.) The third book sees even more of their family coming over and settling in. (Including their mother) But in this third book the focus shifts considerably.

The heroine is truly Nilda--and Nilda alone. She's been given an opportunity to work as a companion/assistant of sorts to a wealthy woman who lives in town. She is being taught social graces--learning English, learning the piano, learning social customs and niceties. There are socials nearly every week. Several men seem potentially interested in her. But one man continues to haunt her--or at the very least haunt her dreams. The man who attempted to sexually assault her back in Norway. Dreng.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved the first two books in this series. I got very bonded with Signe and her family. Part of me wanted more of the same in this third book. I wanted to stay on the farm. I wanted the focus to be on the entire family: Signe, Rune, their three sons, their daughter; Ivar and Nilda; the new family members--widows both. I was enjoying this book--up to a point--the point where Dreng started becoming the central focus.

I hated the fact that Nilda was discouraged from following her instincts. I hated the fact that even when Nilda spoke up about what happened to her in the past and spoke of his reputation--this wealthy society woman chose to keep inviting him into her home every week. I hated that she arranged for them to have a private meeting so that he could "apologize" to her and smooth things over. I hated that she was actively encouraged to socialize with the man who attempted to rape her. I hated that he knew where she lived. I hated that Nilda was isolated from her family. I don't think that Dreng would have been so bold to seek her out again and again and again if she'd remained on the farm surrounded by her brothers. (Though perhaps he would have all the same.) I hated that there was no distinction made between forgiveness as a step for personal healing and forgiveness as an invitation to welcome the abuser into one's life. I hated that when it came down to believing him or her--almost everyone believed him. "I've changed; I have. I'm no longer the man who did those things." "This wasn't a one time thing. He makes a habit of attacking women. He attacked me. I've talked to other women he's attacked. The women in our town talked to each other, looked out for one another, warned each other. His family knew about this and did nothing." She was essentially accused of privately slandering Dreng; she wasn't being fair to him. He could have changed. She doesn't know that he hasn't changed. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. It's a serious thing to cut someone socially and uninvite him into your home.

Nilda needed a better advocate, a better friend.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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