By J.A. Boulet
A young mother, Mt Askja and an unbreakable love
In the harsh landscapes of Iceland in 1850, a young girl loses her mother and struggles to grow into a woman alone with only her father’s help. Throughout the breathtaking 20-hour daylight summers and the bleak darkness of winters, Margret falls in love and dreams of a large family but the path to her future is rougher than she expected. The Origins will take you back in time delighting you with endearing Icelandic heritage, visual feasts for the mind and gripping you with the struggle to stay alive on a volatile island.
Experience the rich journey of a 19th century woman who proves that even the weakest people can become stronger than anything you can imagine.
Margret lost her mother at a young age, and although her father stepped up and raised her, teaching her everything she needed to know and more, she sorely missed the guidance of a mother to point her in the direction of womanhood. But when she met Magnus, she realised that she didn’t necessarily need her mother to tell her anything, for her own body was telling her plenty about what she felt towards him.
Although, despite finding herself inexplicably drawn towards Magnus, Margret also feels she should keep her distance from him. There is something about him that doesn’t feel completely safe, plus, he lives far away, more than several days travel, and despite Magnus’ allure, Margret simply cannot abandon her father and leave the only life she’s ever known to be with him.
But as Margret learns more, things start to grow complicated, and very soon a broken heart isn’t the only thing on the line, and danger looms over her.
I do not think I have ever read a book set in Iceland before, so this book was new territory for me. I know absolutely nothing about Icelandic history, and next to nothing about some of their traditional customs, so it was fascinating to read and learn about.
Margret is a character who is easy to love, and you cannot help but want the best for her. She is so incredibly loving, and caring, especially towards her father. The death of Margret’s mother left a deep, dark hole in their household, a missing piece of their hearts that could never be replaced, and to cope, Margret and her father learned to rely on each other. Their relationship is beautiful, neither could live without the other, and they clearly love each other dearly. Their need to care for one another is the backbone that shapes this story, and gets it going, and it is incredibly believable.
To put it in just a few words, there is a lot of relationship drama in this book. I cannot talk about it too much, for fear of giving anything away, but, as always, there are two very different men. One, Magnus, the dark and mysterious man from far away, who makes Margret feel things she never has before. And two, Elias, the boy who has always been a farmhand, helping Margret’s father run the sheep farm, and who has grown up like a brother to Margret. Again, I can’t really talk about either of them, for it would give away half of the plot, but this book really transports you to Iceland, and you almost experience things as if you were following Margret around the entire time. There are times I was truly scared for the safety of some of the characters, but which ones, I will not reveal. You shall have to read the book to find out!
I have never been particularly interested in geography, although natural disasters have always fascinated me, for some strange reason. I had never heard of Mt Askja before, I am not sure if it is well known or not, but following the build-up, as the Icelanders started growing used to more frequent earthquakes, without knowing the reason behind them, was terrifying. I grew more on edge every time a bigger earthquake came along, for although I have limited geography knowledge, I know that earthquakes and volcanos go together hand in hand. But the thing that I think shocked me the most, is how easily people did seem to get used to them. Where I live, we never have earthquakes, and I have never experienced one, but Iceland is such a harsh place to live, with the daylight hours, earthquakes, and the never-ending threat of volcanic activity – but still, to the people living there, it’s home, and for some, it is all they’ve ever known. Leaving because a volcano might erupt simply isn’t an option.
If there was one thing that troubled me about this book, it was the explicit description of the more erotic scenes. The reader is given each characters’ every thought and action, and I am not a fan of too much description around those kinds of scenes anyway. I ended up skimming over those scenes because the language and intense description did make me uncomfortable. I do wish those moments in the book were toned down a lot more, because other than those scenes, I really did enjoy reading this book.
This is a story of love, heartbreak, and danger in many senses of the words. I absolutely loved following Margret on her journey, as she fully grows into a woman and begins her life. I learned a lot about Iceland while reading, and I was particularly interested in the author’s note at the end, wherein the author spoke about the science behind Mt Askja that the characters, in the time, could never have known. It was truly fascinating. If you have never read a historical fiction book set in Iceland, or you are after a thrilling historical romance, this is most certainly the book for you!
Margret stirred the soup slowly on the iron stove, worrying about her mother. She had always had a wheezy breath, and sometimes in the fields, she would start coughing hoarsely. In the middle of a harvest, she would take many breaks to catch her breath.
When influenza came into their home, Momma had nursed both her and her Pappa better with soups, hot drinks, blankets and loving care.
Now Momma was sick.
Some people had died from this nasty influenza. A few adults succumbed, and many babies died. Margret wrapped her momma’s red shawl around her shoulders and shivered. She couldn’t imagine a life without her momma. It was unfathomable. Momma would just simply have to survive. She must be here with them.
Margret would have to think positively. Such thoughts were like the devil trying to enter her brain. She had heard the pastor at the church say such things. That must be what it is, she thought.
She gazed through the kitchen window across the bleak frozen landscape. Iceland had some bad winters, but mostly it was bearable. Drift ice along the shores in the north brought cold weather along the eastern side of the island, and this past year was colder than usual. They lived on a sheep ranch near Horn. It was an expansive hilly countryside with beautiful views of the ocean to the east, and the mountainous regions rose to the west.
It was quite sunny today, and the weather was pleasant enough to lift her hopes. It was the start of spring and a new beginning. They had harvested all the weak animals before the last harsh winter, the neighbourhood community chipping in to help. Even Margret had been out in the fields tending to the vegetable crops and helping to build shelters for the remaining animals. The winter was typical, cool but pleasant with the ocean air, until January when the winter struck hard, with freezing temperatures and blowing winds. Sometimes the door would stick, the wooden frame swelling in the humidity, imprisoning them all in their home.
Margret sometimes wished she could fly away on a bird’s wings to a different country, somewhere more pleasant, somewhere easier. Her eyes glazed over as the sun shone brightly into the kitchen, warming her hands.
She was only a child, but she had her share of life’s tribulations. Her younger brother had died at birth, and her mother could not conceive again. The doctor said the blood in her uterus was no longer any good. Margret wondered if such talk was true or just a simple explanation for a complex problem.
The soup began to boil, and she grabbed the oven mittens. Margret lifted the pot to the side table, placing it on a large ceramic cooling pad. She ladled hot soup into three bowls. Hopefully, Momma would eat. She sat down and waited patiently for the bowls to cool enough to take one to Momma. Margret laid her chin in her hands and daydreamed across the bleak landscape. One day, she would grow up, fall in love with a handsome man and have many children of her own. She looked forward to that day. Margret always wanted a big family.
The longcase clock chimed at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The sound awakened her out of the daydreaming.
She tested the soup with a small spoon and blew on it. It was cooled enough. She would feed her mother, and Momma would get better.
J. A. Boulet is the passionate author of The Olason Chronicles, a historical saga of war, courage, love and strength. Her newest novel The Origins Book 4, the final book in the series, is being released on June 8, 2022. J. A. Boulet was born and raised in Western Canada as a first generation Canadian from European descent. Her father enlisted with the Hungarian military and fought bravely during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, changing sides to stand up for what he believed in. He was granted asylum in Canada and built his family here.
J. A. Boulet was born many years later, raised with strong morals and values, which she stands behind to this day. She started writing poetry at the age of five and progressed to short stories and novels. She has a keen interest in ancestry, healing, family bonds and military history. J. A. Boulet writes with a spine-tingling realism like none other, grabbing your emotions and refusing to let go. The Olason Chronicles is the series you’ve been waiting for. Watch for the next book 1956: Love and Revolution (Dec 2022), a standalone historical romance novel that takes place during the courageous Hungarian Revolution.
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