The Chocolate Set tells stories only hinted at by geneology charts and lists of ancestors. It is fiction, but it is true fiction. I call it heritage retrieval.
Erik Axel Norrling will be the last of his family to enjoy the comfort of landed gentry status in rural 19th Century Sweden. Problems with his own workers reflect the labor unrest and terrible living conditions of the lower classes. Early on, Erik Axel discovers the powerful lure that emigration to America holds out to them. He also discovers the thrill and addiction of racing horses and betting on the outcome.
As his passion for racing grows, his management of the farm declines and family resources suffer. Bad weather, failed crops, illness, and labor trouble follow.
By the time his wife births their first child, Anna, Erik Axel is deep in debt. When he loses the estate to foreclosure, they are forced to move into a rude worker's cottage. Crop failures and bitter winters suck the family toward extinction as a small part of a national crisis that leaves thousands dead of starvation and hoards of children begging door-to-door. Maria dies and Erik Axel and young Anna are left to carry on alone. Her desire to escape rivals that of the hoards of young people who are emigrating to America.
Anna never realizes her dream. That is left to her daughter, Klara, who grows up in the shadow of her troubled family. Only her grandfather, Erik Axel, has time for her. Time to inflame her heart with stories about a country across the ocean where a man can own land as far as the eye can see.
When Erik Axel dies, Klara is sure she has been sentenced to a life of drudgery. Returning home from the burial service, the sun breaksthrough the gloom and Klara realizes a new day is coming.
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