Today I thought I'd talk about one of my all-time favorite books. I read this book for the first time when I was around 12 or so. Not only is it a beautiful love story, but it's also a beautiful story of family.
Here's the blurb: Linnea- Eager to begin her first teaching position, lovely Linnea Brandonberg stepped off the train looking as grown up and worldly as her eighteen years would allow. The golden fields and fragrant wheat of Alamo, North Dakota, were as new and different as the Westgaard family with whom she would live.
Teddy- Farm life in 1917 was hard and bitter...but tiny spirited Linnea was determined to brave its challenges. And as World War I threatened to take those she held dear, Linnea grew to womanhood in the arms of Teddy Westgaard, a man who thought he'd never find love.
Years- A story of passion. A story of heartache. A story of a way of life that will long be remembered...with people and places as real as the emotions of the heart.
How on earth can I describe this book in a way that tells you why I love it so? I will do my very best, but it's hard.
The story opens with Linnea on her way to Alamo, North Dakota. Linnea is very young (eighteen) and very innocent in a lot of ways. She comes across more as a confused child than an adult when the story first opens. She's very fanciful and has a very vivid imagination. She thinks this will be a great adventure and has a picture of what Alamo is like in her head. It's anything but what she expected.
The first introduction of Theodore (I can't think of him as Teddy...that's too soft to describe him) Westgaard is a hoot. He's a wheat farmer who is fairly set in his ways. He's in his early thirties at the start of the book and has had a lot of hard times. Women are not at the top of his favorites list by any means.
Under the mistaken impression that Linnea is a man, he's disgusted to find out that a woman will be living under his roof (his family always houses the school teachers). Their first meeting is antagonistic, but also very funny as she tries to prove she's an adult and he's thinking she's a child.
What amazes me most about this book is how real Ms. Spencer makes the town and inhabitants. I've read this book more than a dozen times and each time I read it I feel more like I'm watching a movie than reading a book. I've come to care about these characters in a way that I've never really cared about characters before.
Theodore's family is a blend of toughness and sweetness that just warms my heart. His mother is a harridan, but has a heart of gold. His brother John is a bit slow, but has a way about him that just makes me want to cuddle him. The Westgaard family is the main family in the town, so Linnea finds reminders of the man she's starting to love every time she turns around.
Years is an epic love story in the sense that the relationship between Theodore and Linnea is the main component of the book, but the epicness also encompasses the rest of the inhabitants.
Yes, Linnea is young & relatively immature when the story starts out, but by the end of the book she's grown into a strong woman with a woman's love for the man who changes her life forever.
I can't begin to recommend this book enough. I actually wrote Kristian's (Theodore's son) story when I was about 15. I think I can credit this book for my love of writing. I wanted to write just like this story made me feel (if that makes sense).
If you love a wonderful romance with very fleshed-out characters and a sense of "realness" you don't find in a lot of books, then this is the book for you. If you don't fall in love with the characters too...well, that'd be too bad. :) Read it...you won't be sorry.