Giants In The Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag (a Bookies Review and Oh you will love this!)
In the later 1800’s, Norwegian settlers took to the Great Plains to find for themselves a better life. Dreams of great farm lands and prosper propelled them forward and Per Hansa, was not an exception.
Per Hansa, his wife, Beret, and their two sons head out into the wide open space hoping to catch up with the group they had started out with and begin to build their dreams. While Per Hansa almost vibrates with his desire for something to call his own, Beret keeps quiet to her dreams of staying where they were with, with family and friends and all she ever knew of as home.
When they do meet up with the others and stake their land the whole family experiences first hand what it is like to start with nothing. A house built out of sod, and their cow living under this same sod roof. The planting of food to eat and to sell and the hope and prayer each season that the crops will prosper and drought, weather or plagues do not take what they have put blood, sweat and tears into.
The land is hard and the life style to match but Per Hansa thrives in the environment of working from before sun up to after sun down. As other settlers pass through and the native Americans come calling, Per Hansa comes across many situations he was not prepared for…. yet onward he goes, trusting in God and the land.
We read Giants In The Land for our classic read. Around page 11 I thought I was in trouble… when our author started explaining the sound of the grass I thought “oh oh…. I have over 500 pages of this?” Yet I settled into the book to get through it, and found that I was enjoying it in no time.
Per Hansa is a go getter. At times to the point of ripping your hair out, but it seems like everything he tries and touches turns out for the better. Beret, is another character all together. Left mainly to tend to the house and the children, the time alone only wears on her. Although their are other women near by, Beret is far too sheltered within herself to go out and make the relationships she needs to keep her going.
The real beauty in Giants In The Earth is that the land and the weather is just as much a character as Per Hansa, Beret and the other settlers. The land and weathers role is a bit one. It can give, and it can just as quickly take away. Everything in this environment depends on both.
I flew through this read. It was so far different from anything I had read and I could imagine what the times had to feel like, make it or break it, you had to keep moving forward day after day. It is a book that will remain on my shelf to be referred to again.
Bookies thoughts and fun:
We had a blast being able to have our review in an 1851 cabin that is on the property of one of our book club gals. (Thanks Brenda!). We dressed the time period and ate the food that they ate: lefsa, potatoes, cider, stew, goat cheese… It was a great time.
What a great time! The Bookies over all rated it a high 3 (almost 4!) out of 5. Most of us enjoyed the time period and the idea of the early settlers. A few of us struggled getting into the book and found it too dry.