Monday, December 12, 2011

The Wilder Life- Review

Title:  The Wilder Life
Author:  Wendy McClure
Source: Library

Goodreads summary:

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West. 

The Wilder Life is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened.

My thoughts:

I loved this book! I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan when I was a kid, and I still am.  I re-read the series every winter, just like I read them when I was little.  From the day my mom  gave me these books, I adored the family and wanted to live the way the Ingalls family did.  I can't say that has really stuck with me; I think living a self-sustained life is pretty cool, except I do like modern bathrooms and access to books.  I always felt bad that the Ingalls family only had three books in their home library. 

McClure does a great job with talking of the good and bad of these books.  When you are small and reading them, the racism goes over your head; as an adult it is glaring! I think McClure handles this well, and shows that despite her year of Laura obsession, she can see the not so perfect times too.  She also mentions that Pa skipped town once to avoid a bill, packing his family up at night and taking off.  I personally did not want my perception of Pa tarnished, so I am going to forget I read that.

McClure also discusses Farmer Boy.  She was not a fan of that book as a child, thinking who wants to read about this perfect, spoiled life?  I loved Farmer Boy; however I didn't think it was fair that Laura had nothing while Almanzo had it all, but I enjoyed all the descriptions of living on the farm in upstate New York.  Despite having what seemed to be a charmed existence, I think the Ingalls had more fun.

I loved this book, it reminded me of all my favorite Little House memories, and assured me I was not the only superfan who wanted to live like Laura. I feel inspired by this book to bake some molasses cookies and curl up with Little House in the Big Woods, my favorite in the series, my second favorite being The Long Winter.  It just exuded a cozy, warm feeling filled with love. 


  1. I loved the TV show...haven't read the books. But I definitely want to read this one. Thanks!

  2. This is a great book for sorting out what happened in the books from what really happened.



I love hearing from people, don't be shy! I would love to hear what you think! I always reply back, although it takes me a bit longer these days due to the little guy.