As a child, Solveig Torvik heard stories of a lost, mysterious great-grandfather who left Finland for America to make his fortune - leaving Torvik’s great-grandmother and his unborn daughter behind. As a reporter, Torvik determined to discover the fate of the man who followed his dreams to Oregon. She uncovered not only the story of one man, but also the saga of an entire family. In Nikolai’s Fortune, a tale of Scandinavian women, the journalist turns fact into fiction and shares the tales of her ancestors as she imagines they would have told them.
Nikolai's Fortune is a heartbreaking, multigenerational epic, chronicling family secrets and sufferings against the backdrop of Scandinavian history and culture. Blending memoir and historical fiction, grandmother, mother, and daughter each share their own story: Kaisa, of her mother’s love for Nikolai and her own 500-mile trek at the age of twelve from impoverished Finland across the snowy mountains of Lapland; Berit, of child slavery and an obsession with seeking out her grandfather’s fortune for her mother; and Hannah, the voice of Torvik, of her childhood during the Nazi occupation of Norway and her family’s emigration to Idaho.
Through detailed historical research into census, church, and weather records, as well as academic and museum sources, Torvik recaptures a dramatic story nearly lost to memory and inherits something worth more than a fortune in riches – a sense of her family history, ethnic background, and the generations of remarkable women who came before her.
Norwegian-born Solveig Torvik was a reporter, editor, and columnist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for thirty years. She was also a reporter for United Press International in Salt Lake City and for the San Francisco Chronicle, and an editor at the San Jose Mercury News.