Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: "A Wilder Rose" by Susan Wittig Albert

From Goodreads:  In 1928, Rose Wilder Lane—world traveler, journalist, much-published magazine writer—returned from an Albanian sojourn to her parents’ Ozark farm. Almanzo Wilder was 71, Laura 61, and Rose felt obligated to stay and help. To make life easier, she built them a new home, while she and Helen Boylston transformed the farmhouse into a rural writing retreat and filled it with visiting New Yorkers. Rose sold magazine stories to pay the bills for both households, and despite the subterranean tension between mother and daughter, life seemed good.

Then came the Crash. Rose’s money vanished, the magazine market dried up, and the Depression darkened the nation. That’s when Laura wrote her autobiography, “Pioneer Girl,” the story of growing up in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, on the Kansas prairie, and by the shores of Silver Lake. The rest—the eight remarkable books that followed—is literary history.

But it isn’t the history we thought we knew. For the surprising truth is that Laura’s stories were publishable only with Rose’s expert rewriting. Based on Rose’s unpublished diaries and Laura’s letters, A Wilder Rose tells the true story of the decade-long, intensive, and often troubled collaboration that produced the Little House books—the collaboration that Rose and Laura deliberately hid from their agent, editors, reviewers, and readers.

My Thoughts:  I loved the Little House books when I was a kid so when I saw this book, I had to read to it!  The book is mostly about Rose Wilder Lane's life and relationship with her mother.  While this is the story of how the Little House books came into being, it is also the story of Rose and Laura's relationship as mother and daughter.  They seemed to have a very tumultuous relationship which was made more difficult by their very stubborn personalities.  

Though this book is a work of fiction, the author used Rose's diaries and letters as her sources of information for creating the story.  The book asserts that it was mostly Rose who was responsible for the success of the Little House books; she took her mother's childhood stories and reworked them into book format.  There seems to be some controversy surrounding whether Rose was the actual author of the books or if she was just more of a support system for her mother.  I don't know enough about the issue to have an opinion but the author of A Wilder Rose created a pretty interesting story out of the idea that Rose was the real writer of the Little House books.  

While I liked this book and I thought it had an interesting premise, it definitely is more about Rose than about Laura.  I think Rose Wilder Lane was a fascinating historical figure who lived a pretty exciting life, I was hoping for more information about Laura and her writing.  Instead, the reader sees Laura through the eyes of a daughter who never quite got along with her mother.  Laura is definitely portrayed as an annoyance to Rose, kind of a thorn in her side, and it was hard for me to reconcile this portrayal of Laura with the one in my head.  Overall, if you have an interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder, this is a unique addition to the stories surrounding her life. 3 stars.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. I keep seeing this around, and knowing how much I loved the Little House books am intrigued by it. I don't see myself running out to buy it though, but would still be curious enough to pick it up if given the chance.


Imagination Designs