One of my favorite writers as a child was Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the world-famous Little House books. This city child loved reading about a country girl and the intrepid pioneer spirit of her family. I wanted to be the way I perceived Laura to be – happy and carefree.
When I grew up, I became a YA writer, in large part because of Laura, and how her writings affected me as a child.
I continued to dig into the family and their writings, often fashioning our family vacations around the Little Houses. One year, Norm took Jillian and me to the Ozark Mountains to visit Rocky Ridge Farm, the house where Laura wrote the Little House books.
And when I lived in Paris, I took the metro to see Rose’s apartment in the 5th arrondissement where she lived during the 1920’s. This summer, we plan to jaunt up to the Dakotas to visit friends – and to say hello to Pa and Ma’s DeSmet home that Pa built with his own two hands.
Is there any American girl who does not feel a certain kinship with this beloved family? As though we, too, are part of their lives as much as they are a part of ours?
Even today, I still want to devour anything written by or about Laura and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. (I have become the amateur researcher of my family, and my mom still calls me to ask the family “expert” to clarify fact from fiction.)
Recently, I read a newly-published novel on the subject of Laura and Rose – A Wilder Rose, by Susan Wittig Albert. Simply put, I loved it.
Laura and Rose collaborated on Laura’s books – this fact has been well-documented and is not a shock to most readers of Laura’s and Rose’s works. But what is different about Albert’s book is that it is a fictional account of how this collaboration may have taken place.
The story unfolds in the 1930’s with Rose explaining the life of the Little House books to Norma Lee Browning Oggs (a close friend). It is told as a narrative, and because Albert did such a superb job capturing the voice of Rose Lane, I felt as though I, myself, were in the kitchen of Rose’s Danbury home, having a cup of tea while listening to the story.
Did I mention that the pages of my copy are marked all over with my annotations? In my world, this is not defilement of a great book; quite the contrary – it’s a sign that it is well-loved.
I won’t spoil the story for you, but I will tell you that if you ever loved Laura and her stories, and you never wanted them to end, or you wanted to find out what happened after, then you must pick up a copy (or download, yes, I throw my hands up in acquiescence) and read A Wilder Rose.
Mine now holds its place of honor on my “Laura Ingalls” bookshelf – right next to my own children’s novel, inspired by Laura herself.
This city girl finally made it to her own little country house to write and read. For this, and for great writers, I am ever thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!
This Australian girl also feels a certain kinship with the Ingall’s family after watching many episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” many years ago! I haven’t read any of the books you mention but I am making a list after I finish typing my comment. (You look very sweet in the dress Maw Maw made for you!)
Those books are timeless! My fervent wish is that my books touch lives in the same way.<3
Hey, I read this earlier. How could I have not responded, as you and I are totally in love with the Little House series, aren’t we? Love that picture in the sweet little dress.
I was a dork. (Should I use the past tense there?) ❤
Claire Chisolm said:
I never saw that picture of you in your Hollie Hobby Dress, my friend, but we have shared a love of this great author. I am sad that I didn’t get to Rocky Ridge in the 11 months I was a Missouri native, but happy to have lived in the land of the rocky ridges and pioneer spirit. Now I have something to share with my mom when she gets here this week to see our new little house in the ‘ville (Fayetteville, PA!) and soon it will be Praline season. (what are those proportions again? 🙂 Love you.
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a stick, dear friend. ❤
My girls loved the Little House on the Prairies books. I have a set on my shelves even now. My oldest will bring up Laura Ingalls every once in a while.
Laura will forever remain in our hearts, won’t she? ❤
Well, that Hollie Hobbie dress and bonnet made you beam for happiness! Your Grandma must have understood your role as a developing YA writer perfectly for dressing you like a budding next generation. Isn’t that early childhood impact of reading SO strong that it never ever leaves you? Even though I read different books across the ocean but I got inspired very early on as well.
As for the Rocky Ridge Farm, that is NOT a little house in the eyes of a Dutch born girl but sure, for the U.S.A. it might be. We grew up after all in one of the world’s most densely populated countries; second only after Bangladesh. That has an impact on your further life as well and the perception of open space and land is holy to me! We do not live in the country but we have a property and home for that we count ourselves blessed.
Loved the photo of you with Jillian! You always look so ‘petite’, so slender!
Hugs to you,
Thank you for the compliment, Mariette. 🙂 As for Rocky Ridge Farm, Laura’s house started as little, but she and Almanzo added to it over the years as they could afford to do. Even in the expansive USA, I think most would agree that it is not small by any stretch. ❤
Garden Of Daisies said:
Your little house on the Bayou is very sweet. I have my very own little house on the prairie in Kansas. 🙂 I have always been a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wanted to “be” her when I was little. (Also Florence NIghtingale, but that is a conversation for another time.) I have read all the books by her, but not any by Rose, so I’ll have to look into that.
You’ll love this story – it puts together the two women’s writings. Rose was a prolific (and famous) writer, long before her mother. ❤