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Their Fathers' God by O. E. Rølvaag

Their Fathers' God (1931)

by O. E. Rølvaag

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If you haven't read the previous two books, Giants in the Earth and Peder Victorious and plan to in the future, do not read this review.

Their Fathers' Gods is, like Peder Victorious, a Norwegian novel translated into English thus, as Agar, the translator notes, some of the actual mood -art- of the original is lost. This is the last book Rolvaag wrote featuring the Holms family. In this novel he tackles the mixed marriage of Catholic Susie and Lutheran Peder, as well as the political antagonism between the two groups, Irish Catholic and Norwegian Lutheran, in South Dakota. What is surprising in many ways is how universal the themes in these last two Rolvaag novels have been. Even today we struggle with the question of immigrants becoming Americanized, especially in speaking English. While there are many mixed marriages of different faiths today, there is still an underlying hurdle that must be crossed for them to succeed. Once these different religious beliefs are woven together with opposing political views, with various clergy fully participating, the outcome is bound to be negative. In the end we are never told if Peder achieves either happiness or success. He has been truthfully told he will not have both in his life.
Very Highly Recommended for those reading all three Rolvaag books. http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/

( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
This is the third volume of the trilogy written by Rolvaag before his death in 1931. The first volume, Giants in the Earth, was read by me Jan 14, 1946, with overwheolming appreciation. I re-read it 19 Aug 1069, preparatory to reading the second volume, Peder Victorious, which I finished 23 Aug 1969. I was not enchanted by that second volume and dicidied not to read the third volume, Their Fathers' God. But I recently came across that book and have now read it. It is the story of Per Hansa's widow and Peder, who has married an Irish Catholic girl and is farming in South Dakota. The tension between the couple over religion permeates and poisons the book, There are powerful scenes and events, including a stark account of the death of Peder's mother (Per Hansa' widow). But the book ends as I hoped it would not and that soured me on the book and I cannot call my reading one that I appreciated. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 28, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803289111, Paperback)

Susie Doheny, an Irish Catholic, and Peder Holm, a Norwegian Lutheran, fall in love and marry in South Dakota in the 1890s. Soon their marriage is tested by drought, depression, and family bickering. Susie believes they are being tested by their fathers' God.

Peder blames Susie for the timidity of her beliefs; Susie fears Peder's pride and skepticism. When political antagonism grows between the Norwegian and Irish immigrant communities, it threatens to split their marriage.

Against a backdrop of hard times, crisscrossed by Populists, antimonopolists, and schemers, Rölvaag brings the struggle of immigrants into the twentieth century. In Giants in the Earth the Holm family strained to wrest a homestead from the land. In Peder Victorious the American-born children searched for a new national identity, often defying the traditions their parents fought to uphold. In Their Fathers' God, Rölvaag's most soul-searching novel, the first-generation americans enter a world of ruthless competition in the midst of scarcity.

The University of Nebraska Press also publishes Peder Victorious and Paul Reigstad's Rölvaag: His Life and Art.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:58 -0400)

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