Plains and Prairie Chronicle:  AGATA'S JOURNEY WEST

by Nora Fladeboe Mohberg

Though orchestrated as a historical novel, Nora Fladeboe Mohberg’s family memoir, Agata’s Journey West, is an entirely charming and affectionate book tracing the life journey of Agata, a 19th Century Norwegian farm girl.

The story begins with newlywed Agata’s boat arrival at an expansive family farm tucked deep in a Norwegian fjord. There she sets up her first home, and in doing so innocently sets in motion a soon to be challenging sequence of life adventures. Eventually, Agata and her husband leave Flatabo with their growing family, joining as they do a boatload of other spirited souls setting off on a journey to the New World. Before setting sail, and all along the way, the voyagers are excited to imagine and offer up opinions as to the storied stretches of free land they’ve heard tell of on the other side of the sea, homesteads available to anyone willing to settle and help develop America’s sprawling plains and prairie.

The long sea voyage turns into another demanding journey, this one by way of North American rivers and lakes, only to be followed by extended treks across the plains in long wagon trains. Move after move, Agata surveys the challenges awaiting her in each new-to-come home, time after time pitching in to make the place live up to what she aspires to in her imagination. And never does Agata let fall her principal preoccupation – lovingly nurturing her ever-growing family.

The book is about survival amidst blistering storms and icy winds, living with injuries and pestilence and prairie fires – at first in the lakes and forests of Minnesota, and then again on the treeless, windswept plains of the Dakotas. It is a story about pluck and persistence, about people keeping their wits about them when beset by adversity, about maintaining a sense of faith in something far larger than they, but more importantly in themselves. By the time the book ends, Agata is living in a Dakota farmhouse, within reach of the region’s multiplying railroads, with their distant eastbound locomotives spewing smoke into the sky.

As part of its Plains and Prairie Chronicles, Mead-Hill is pleased to present Ms. Mohberg’s charming memoir/novel with its bubbling portrayal of the challenging lives lived by early plains pioneers, and its highly detailed account of America frontier prairie days, especially those of the late 1800s.

Equally compelling is the portrait Ms. Mohberg paints of the new Americans of the day – their great anticipation of an always better life ahead, their great investment in the continent’s animated energy in its endless surge westward.

But beyond the specifics of Agata’s life, Ms. Mohberg’s anecdotes, tales, stories, and sourced remembrances set out an inspiring helping of optimism. They sound a spirited call to hard work, compassion, faith, family, and constructive behavior: setting forth goals, maintaining values, and all the while exhibiting that ephemeral, forever decorous quality of hers – and Agata’s – grace.