Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

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The real (long 500 page) story behind the stories. Including the fact that sadly Rose Wilder was not a typical person, i.e., Professional Libertarian Fascist Child Abuser.  Laura and Almonzo fumbled their way through life (as we all do) and had the biases of their time. As we all should have realized the Little House books are a re-telling of real events- they weren't real stories. (A little piece of my childhood just dies to admit that)

 I knew that the chronological order of Laura's life was:

Wisconsin Kansas Wisconsin

and Little House in the Big Woods squashed the two Wisconsin periods together.

I didn't know that the lovely descriptions in the Big Woods of the attic stocked with food were made possible by the renters of said Little House. Ma and Pa didn't grow and harvest all that food- someone else did. It's the theme- the Ingalls family bumbles along, doing their thing, running out on their debt payments, accepting charity while not returning it.

Ugh. It's all the way people are in real life, and I have turned to the Little House books as an example of how through hard work and perseverance a family can succeed together.  The fact that many events in the books are spun into something else is just a disappointment on so many levels. There seemed to be no end to the revelations that stunned me.

Rose- yuck. It's not Laura's fault that Rose is a nutcase- but I did not expect a Little House biography to include Rose backstabbing Laura repeatedly and a bunch of other nonsense that you have to read to believe. Example- Rose lives in Albania for a while and is planning a palace with servants and guns to keep out the riff-raff all while she is virtually penniless. Nice.

Verdict- borrow (unless you are Laura obsessed)

I bought this after seeing all the buzz on Twitter. It isn't the kind of book I like to buy as I probably won't re-read it, but the library hold list was enormously long, and so I treated myself.

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Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder By Caroline Fraser

For more talk about this book go forth and read Ana Mardoll's Ramblings

Comment

Jennifer Naughton

I'm a lifelong bibliophile who happens to love children's books and who should have become a librarian. Instead I horde books in case of apocalypse or the enactment of a Fahrenheit 451 type law. My five kids accept my addiction and have learned to accept books in odd places.