A debut dramatized biography chronicles a Norwegian immigrant’s experiences in America and her remarkable love story.
Especially after her mother died in 1899, Anna Ingevich longed to depart her native Norway for the promise of a new life in the United States. She suffered an acrimonious relationship with her stepmother, and secreted away her earnings to travel by steamship to America, absconding without telling any of her family. While aboard the ship, she met Rasmus Johnson, also en route to America from Norway—he was engaged, but his fiancee, Astrid, couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Scandinavia and so he traveled alone. Rasmus and Anna quickly became infatuated with each other, and by the middle of a monthlong journey, had mutually professed their love. They planned to take up temporary residence at a boardinghouse in New York City and marry immediately. But Rasmus received an apologetic telegram from Astrid’s family, saying that she was on her way to meet him in New York. Even though Rasmus loved Anna more, he believed he owed it to Astrid as a matter of honor to stay true to her. Anna decided that she and Rasmus should part immediately. Hoff, the husband of Anna’s grandchild, ably tracks her travel from New York to South Dakota, as she learned to shoot guns and ride horses along the way. She eventually married and had a child with another Norwegian, Iver Olson. But tortured by a promise to one day build Anna a house, Rasmus found her and, with Astrid’s blessing, consummated that pledge. The author writes plainly and clearly, permitting the undeniable power of the tale itself to take center stage. The account is related in novelistic form. Because his research could not supply all the facts of Anna’s story, Hoff necessarily fills in some of the blanks, but he accomplishes this with a light, unobtrusive touch. Some readers may find Rasmus’ obsession with fulfilling his promise more bizarre than admirable, and Anna’s acquiescence equally peculiar. Still, this is a captivating tale, overflowing with adventure and romance.
An emotionally stirring profile of an extraordinary woman.