I just finished reading this book.
Conversations Loosely Translated: A Story of Koshkonong Prairie
by Karen S. Swensson
Karen’s extensively researched descriptions of her ancestors’ journey from Norway to Amerika, reflect the experiences of many Norwegian emigrants in the mid-1800s.
The book starts by telling about some incidents in Karen’s life that prompted her to start searching for her ancestors. Guided by the ghosts of her ancestors, she records their journey from small farms nestled in the mountains and along the fjords in Norway, to Amerika and a small Norwegian settlement on the fertile prairie near Lake Koshkonong in the territory of West Konsin.
In her book, Swenson invites us into her life and cleverly paralells many of her own experiences with those of her ancestors. This way she is able to bring her ancestors to life and give them dimentions.
It immediately becomes clear that Karen Swenson has put in a lot of research in her family history. As a Norwegian I have no problems “approving” her description of Norwegian customs and concepts. I think that the description of the travel to, and life on the Koshkonong prairie is also well presented.
The book has an extensive notes section where Karen lists her source citations and also elaborates on some of the concepts presented in the book. The source citations covers both her genealogical data and a number of books used to learn about Norwegian concepts and emigration.
It was interesting and fun to read this book. It gave me the opportunity to learn about parts of Norway that I didn’t know much about. I also had fun following her ancestor’s journey on Google maps and end up outside the town of Cambridge, Wisconsin.