August 23, 2018

Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser - Review

Book details
Hardcover: 640 pages
Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st Edition edition (November 21, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1627792767
ISBN-13: 978-1627792769

Book description
The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books

One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls—the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series—masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder's tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.

The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children’s books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading—and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.

Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day.

Meet the author - Caroline Fraser
Caroline Fraser is the author of Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution (Metropolitan, 2009) and God's Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (Metropolitan, 1999), which was selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book Review Best Book. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, and Outside magazine, among others. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

My thoughts
When I started this book I really liked it. I enjoyed that it had even more details than other books I have read about Laura and I have always been a fan or shall we say obsessed with her and I have just about every book about her. The further I got into the book and read about Rose the more I was getting upset as this is not how Laura and Rose have been talked about before. While reading this book I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield and talk to them about what I reading and how I felt. I found out I was not alone in my thought, in fact some of the volunteers of the  museum wanted to know where the author receive her facts from - one who had lived in Mansfield her entire life. One thing I asked the museum about was an argument that happened between Laura and Rose over a book that Rose wrote and according to the author was still talked about in Mansfield. I was told that this was not true - it is not talked about and there was no big argument that the town still mentions. They said both women were very strong and had their opinions as well as they did but heads at times. There is also a line in the book where the author says the people of Mansfield say "Rose was not well - liked here", I do not believe that especially after talking to people in the town just two weeks ago. I put this book down more than once saying I was not going to finish it but with only having 150 pages left I knew I had to finish. I was disappointed in this book when all was said and done. 

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