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!