Monday, April 6, 2015

A Harvest of Hope by Lauraine Snelling (Song of Blessing #2)

About the book: Just a few short weeks into her year-long nurse training assignment at the Blessing Hospital, Miriam Antonio is called home to Chicago, where her mother is gravely ill. With siblings to care for, Miriam pleads to be allowed to finish her training in Chicago. Her nursing supervisor grants her a brief reprieve but extracts a promise that Miriam will soon return to Blessing and fulfill her commitment. 

While in Chicago, Miriam has tried to get Trygve Knutson and Blessing out of her mind, but his letters make that impossible. Trygve is busy building a house, hoping he can convince Miriam to return to North Dakota and marry him. Torn between Trygve's love and her family's needs, she doesn't know what to do. 
When Miriam finally returns to Blessing, she buries herself in her work. But no matter how hard she tries to put it off, she has some life-changing decisions to make about her future, her family...and the man who is never far from her thoughts. 

My thoughts: Lauraine Snelling is a long-standing beloved Christian fiction author, and I’ve read her work in the past. When the opportunity to review Harvest of Hope set in the early 1900s in North Dakota and whose main female protagonist is a nurse, I was excited to be able to read it

I am sadly not happy with the book. Frankly, when I chose a work of fiction to read, I am doing so because I wish to relax and not work so hard to engage with the characters or story. There are so many characters who are sprinkled on the pages as though the reader should be familiar with them. So perhaps the author and publisher expect to appeal to an audience of readers who follow all the author’s books in correct sequence and never forget a character from one book to the next.  I have read other books where the author builds on a previous book in the series, but this one seems most difficult to grasp just who is who and how they fit into the scheme of things.

There is an extensive and large family tree at the beginning of the book which helps somewhat for the reader to place individuals relationally. I often utilize these when books span more than one generation. I find them helpful. So thank you, Ms. Snelling for including that.

Thank you, too, for the generous and sweet hearts of the characters and the way that those in the medical community are so caring in this non-developed countryside. Thank you for a glimpse into medicine of the early 1900s.

The story encompasses change for Miriam who is from Chicago as she returns to the little town of Blessing to work as a nurse after the death of her mother. Trygve is a young man she knows and his desire is to court her. Their romance is not a major part of the story, but it is important. There is a lot of dealing with grief in the story; and while handled well, it does seem to overshadow the rest of the story. Strong female characters, including a woman doctor, during a time when women were not expected to do much outside the home and were expected to always take a subservient roll.

My suggestion for readers is to be sure to read the series books in the order in which they are written.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated to write a review.

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