Land of Promise, Land of Tears

It is 1869 and Ole and Helena Branjord are Norwegian immigrants attempting to make a new life on forty acres of central Iowa farmland. Ole is a kind, gentle man who questions his ability to provide for his family. Helena is pining for a real house, but has sadly learned through her past experiences that promises, no matter how sincere, are never certain. But Ole has lofty dreams to prove all the naysayers wrong and double his farmstead. The Branjord children each possess talents and challenges. Eleven-year-old Oline loves music. Martin is intelligent beyond his eight years. Four-year-old Berent wants to wear pants instead of the dresses Norwegian custom dictates he don every day. Populating the Branjord’s world are other immigrants that include a giant, strong man who can make a violin sing; a Civil War veteran with disfiguring physical scars; and members of the local Lutheran church determined to save their congregation. But among all the good is one enemy from Helena’s past who wants nothing more than to destroy the Branjords. Twedt’s well-researched novel deserves to be awarded a place next to Rolvaag's work on the book shelves of home, public, and college libraries. It is apparent that Twedt has devoted many years to perfecting his craft as a storyteller. —Brad Steiger

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