From This Day Forward (Song of Blessing Book #4) by Lauraine Snelling is yet another fine tuned story of the wonderful people who settled in the fictional town of Blessings North Dakota at the turn of the twentieth century. This story is centered on Deborah MacCallister and Toby Valders. Friends since their days at school, they have both come far as adults. She is now head nurse at the Blessing hospital and he is one of the leaders in the fast paced construction of the numerous buildings planned for a community that is bursting at the seams. Deborah has long had feelings for Toby, who seems oblivious to anything beyond their long standing friendship. She has always been there and he takes it for granted that she will remain his friend. As she yearns for more, he is merely going through the motions of his life as his career catapults him from bed each day to work and back to bed again. If it weren't for friends like Deborah and her mother keeping food in his icebox and doing his laundry he would have gone hungry and unkempt.
The hospital is also feeling the pinch of a growing community with shortages of doctors and nurses keeping the staff on hectic rotations. Deborah is offered special training in Chicago that will give her many of the administrative skills that would ease the burden of the doctor and nurses who could better serve their patients using their medical skills.
The story has all the flavor of an old-fashioned town full of folk attending box suppers and raffling off quilts to support the community. At one such supper a handsome young teacher vies for Deborah's box supper, outbidding Toby with an outrageous bid of $10.00. Anton Gendarme out-maneuvered Toby with his charm and thick wallet. Can he also steal Deborah's heart?
These events cause Toby to look at his life and to examine what he wants it to look like. As Deborah travels to Chicago she leaves a bit of her heart in Blessing. When she returns home after completing her training her heart is open to change. The change comes from a surprising source and makes her heart whole.
A trip to Blessing, home many Norwegian immigrants reminds me of how it must have been in the small German communities in Minnesota where my relatives settled in the same era. How it must have been a rich potpourri of culture melding together to build churches, schools and little towns where my farming family came to live and pray. What a wonderful country we have and how fortunate to have authors such as Lauraine Snelling to keep these stories alive in her writing. While our ancestors have come from all over the world I am sure their stories are similar. I recommend this book and the rest of the series for a look at the extraordinary ordinary days of those who came before us.