During the Great Depression, the Sorenson family – father Tomas, mother Solveig, their adolescent son Petter and their infant daughter Liv – live on the Canadian prairies, specifically Manitoba, to where they emigrated from their Norwegian homeland. Solveig didn’t really want to emigrate fearing never seeing her father again, but Tomas convinced her that there was arable land for the taking in America, on which they could carve out a better life than they had in Norway. But two years of drought during the crucial growing season while trying to farm in Manitoba have left them in a financial bind, with a large debt owing to the bank. One final natural disaster on top of the drought is enough for Tomas to concede that he must find work elsewhere. While Solveig wants them to go back to Norway, Tomas knows they don’t have enough money for the passage. So Tomas leaves Solveig, Petter and Liv on the farm by themselves while he goes to look for work. The situation leaves Solveig to deal with Mr. Cameron, the bank representative, whose outward compassion for the Sorensons’ plight masks other things on his mind. Meanwhile, Tomas is able to find some work, but the situation is less than perfect, especially as his employers, husband and wife Edmund and Adeline, are having their own problems, including their marriage being an inherently unhappy one. By the time Tomas goes back to the farm, he, out of the circumstance, changes his focus to granting Solveig’s wish, however implausible it will be to achieve.

Also Known As: Madship, Mad Ship

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