Category Archives: memoirs

The Wilder Life…………..by Wendy McClure

Nonfiction, Memoir

Yes, I can read the top of my blog and it doesn’t say anything about nonfiction memoirs, but I read the book and I want to talk about it! (sorry,I didn’t mean to sound so cranky) This is the story of one woman’s quest to see and do all things connected to LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.  First she divides the TLHOTP (The Little House On The Prairie )People into two camps; there are the book people and there are the T.V. show people. The t.v. show people are the fans of the 1970s show starring Michael  Landon and Melissa Gilbert and the book people are fans of the 8-book series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and published originally in the 1930s. The t.v show would not exist without the book and the book certainly enjoyed a resurgence of popularity due to the t.v. show.  Wendy McClure is a book person–she read the series as a child and then she rereads them before she begins this quest.(actually it sounds as though she read each book many times) She does homey things like churning butter and preparing sourdough bread while she plans her trip to all the LHOTP homesites,— and she watches the t.v. show. And there are a lot of homesites because the book Ingalls moved a lot (unlike the t.v. show Ingalls who spent most of their time in Walnut Grove.)

I consider myself to be a book person although I did not discover them until I was an adult.  I am older than Ms. McClure and I would have been a teenager when the t.v. show first appeared. I do remember watching the first couple of years (sporadically) I lost interest when Mary went blind (she actually did ) and the town built a multi-racial blind school (never happened-Mary went to a state blind school) and Mary married blind Adam who later regained his sight and became a lawyer (Mary never married ). Somewhere the show lost the whole Ingalls family thing.   But I read the entire series of books (in order and out loud) when my daughters were 8 years old.  At that point, I fell in love with the idea of simple living. I was living the modern mother’s dilemma of too much choice–(poor me) where to go to school, which daycare, what foods are healthy (that list constantly changing). It seemed easier to just say we will be having salt pork and turnips because-well-that’s all we have.

But real Laura’s life was very difficult and I was shocked to discover that Rose Wilder Lane considered her childhood to be miserable. Yikes, a miserable childhood with half-pint as your mom! Another area discussed in the book is a controversy surrounding the authorship of the Little House books.  Apparently Rose(an established writer)  edited and advised her mother  but –How much?  There are differing opinions on that subject.

Ms. McClure visits all the different homesites with the accompanying museums, pageants and replica log cabins  and she has some witty observations and excellent insights.   At one of the homesites she meets a woman who refuses to look at a photograph of the actual Ingalls family as adults. It is not possible for her to reconcile this sombre group of people, with the Ingalls she knew and loved.(People did not smile in photos back then but even still–this is not Michael Landon as Pa)-The photo is easy to google.

One of the funniest chapters in the book occurs when the author and her fabulously game boyfriend decide to spend a homesteading week-end at a farm. They are prepared to learn about weaving and blacksmithing and other skills experienced by farmers of Laura’s era–basically sharing knowledge with like-minded people.  Instead they find themselves in the company of a religious group who are preparing for the end of the world. Funny stuff.

This is an excellent book but I think it would likely only appeal to fans of LHOTP.–But this is not a small group!

Center Point Publishing  2010.

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Filed under book review, books, memoirs, non fiction