Monday, April 4, 2011
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life (biography)
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill
Having been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, I'm pretty sure that Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books was the first complete series I read, and I was also a devoted fan of the television series, Little House on the Prairie. It's the truth when I say that growing up, I wanted to be Laura Ingalls.
Finally reading a biography about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder after all these years was fascinating. I have to admit that in some ways, having the real Laura Ingalls exposed took a bit of the shine off the fantasy I had grown up with and still find myself holding dear today. I guess on some level I realized that the Little House series of books are fiction based on Ms. Wilder's actual life experiences, but to read in detail about how facts were changed, embellished, etc. for the sake of artistry was a little like finding out that Santa Clause isn't real.
Still, it's a very good book. The author delves into not only Laura's true life experiences, but presents a detailed portrait of how Laura crafted the books that would become iconic. It also discusses at length the role her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, played both in Laura's personal and professional lives. I was surprised to learn about the controversy that exists as to how involved Rose was in the writing of the Little House series (did she merely edit them or actually ghost-write them?), as well as the fact that Laura and her daughter had an often contentious relationship.
If you are a Little House fan, or a fan of a good biography, I highly recommend this book. I am definitely inspired now to go searching for my old Little House books wherever they are packed away.