My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Merrill Krause, the only girl in a family of boys, has fulfilled her promise to her dying mother and spent the last ten years taking care of her father and brothers. This has meant not only cooking and keeping house but also getting involved in the family business of raising draft horses and harvesting ice. The 21-year-old has had little time for the feminine pursuits of looking beautiful and batting her eyes at hopeful suitors (though she sure can cook up a storm). Visits to town (Waseca, Minnesota, 1895) and the not-so-subtle hints of Granny Lassiter and Merrill’s best friend Corabeth that she’s not getting any younger, only make her more aware of her lacks in the eligible young lady department.
Rurik Jorgenson appears in Waseca to help his ill Uncle Carl in his furniture-making shop. He meets Merrill at one of the ice-harvesting work bees, feels an instant attraction and it looks as if it will be full-steam-ahead to love for the two of them. That is until Rurik’s longtime friend Nils Olsson and his sister Svea (Rurik’s former fiancée) arrive in town. What follows is a drama of Shakespearean-type complications with Svea pressuring Rurik to reinstate their engagement, Nils coming on to Merrill, and Merrill’s father and brothers doing their customary hover over her affairs and suitors.
The likeable characters’ very human flaws keep them in trouble and I had a hard time putting this one down (though the story’s main complications resolved at about 90% through the book and the last 10% dragged a bit).
Author Tracie Peterson tells the story simply with lots of solid description of home, food, and community life—a great read for those who would enjoy the vicarious experience of life in an 1890s immigrant community (Merrill comes from German stock, Rurik from Swedish).
The book’s themes of love, loyalty, and the necessity of truth are firmly grounded in the Christian faith—a faith to which the main characters give lip and life service. Nothing edgy here but a good, safe read.
For an enjoyable romance that takes readers back to simpler, slower times, and gives a glimpse into a trade that has long disappeared in the dust of progress, The Icecutter’s Daughter is a fine choice.
(I received this book as a gift from publisher Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review.)