Little House in Brookfield by by Maria D. Wilkes

Little House in Brookfield by by Maria D. Wilkes
reviewed by Deb Houdek Rule

Sloppy writing and a severe lack of editing make the book read as a hastily tossed-together piece written to meet a deadline for commercial, rather than artistic, purposes. The story is inconsistent and filled with random elements (such as the family having no meat–what happened to the pig they were raising in an earlier chapter?).

Much is made of the “oh, poor us, we’re poor and suffering” without the sense of dignity, pride and self-sufficiency–or outright joy of life– that fills the real Little House books. Instead the poverty aspect is hammered in over and over.

The content could have been interesting if it was made clear that the events were historically documented rather than contrived just to make a new book series. This book, and those that follow, also suffer from a basic lack of content–nothing much happens in most of them. Nothing drives the stories forward. Stagnant.

The writing seemed to ‘talk down’ to young readers in a way that the original series never did.

Disappointing.


Independence, Kansas Lake Pepin De Smet, South Dakota Rocky Ridge Farm Vinton, Iowa Burr Oak, Iowa Malone, New York Brookfield, Wisconsin Rose Wilder Lane Laura’s Friends Timeline Books and Book Reviews Book Series More Books LIW TV Ingalls-Wilder Family Genealogy

Bachelor Girl by Roger Lea MacBride

Bachelor Girl by Roger Lea MacBride
reviewed by Deb Houdek Rule

Bachelor Girl was a nice closing episode to the ‘Rose’ series of books. It was a well-chosen ending place to the story as Rose clearly is leaving the child world and entering that of the adult at the end.

The ‘Rose’ series, overall, makes a nice compliment to the original ‘Laura’ series–not as good, mind you, but a decent sequel. The series starts off a bit slow and uneventfully, but picks up in the later books. I’d recommend them to young readers who’ve read the ‘Laura’ books and want more of the story. They don’t have, and won’t give, the same historical sense as the original series, however, as they lack that element of first-hand flavor Laura was able to give to an era she actually lived through.

Now the nit-picking critique…I found myself questioning the portrayal of Rose’s personality in this 8th book. In the previous books she’d been pridefully, almost arrogantly, confident in her intelligence and educational achievements. Though she hadn’t socialized well with kids her age she had been bold and out-going in other ways (dating a college man, etc.). Now, grownup and on her own, Rose is suddenly shy and uncertain, letting herself be trod upon and looked down upon. And tell me, would a girl who had managed to learn fluent Latin in less than a year have to look up the definition of “inhibitions”? Laura, even when she was being a proper young lady, always held onto her inner rebelliousness–Rose’s seems to have been nearly snuffed out in most of this book.

I also wondered about her sudden interest in being a housewife. Flirting with the idea of playing house with Paul could have worked better if it had been clearly battling inside her with her desire for independence. The entire Paul relationship was not quite as deftly worked as it could have been. Its resolution was foreshadowed in a clunky, predictable way. It was interesting to meet Rose’s future husband (and future ex-husband), Gillette Lane. He was not fully fleshed out as a character, but one could see how he would both fascinate her with his flash and style and, regrettably, the traits that could make the relationship fall apart later.

Oddly, San Francisco didn’t come to life in the story. A curious omission was the cable cars. I never quite felt I could place her within the City even though several specific places were mentioned (including places where the, mentioned, street cars would have been cable cars). The atmosphere was missing.

Something I would have liked to have seen hints of was Rose’s future career as a journalist. Though she wrote many letters (were these historically authentic? ), the inclination to a writing career didn’t come through.

Though these books were written as childrens’ or young adults’ stories–fiction based on fact– I would dearly have loved to have seen an “historical notes” section at the end.


Independence, Kansas Lake Pepin De Smet, South Dakota Rocky Ridge Farm Vinton, Iowa Burr Oak, Iowa Malone, New York Brookfield, Wisconsin Rose Wilder Lane Laura’s Friends Timeline Books and Book Reviews Book Series More Books LIW TV Ingalls-Wilder Family Genealogy

Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane

Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane
reviewed by Deb Houdek Rule

The Homestead Act promised people “free land” if they lived on it and worked it for five years. This book by Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura and Almanzo Wilder, is about the enormous price of that free land.

Though Rose clearly draws her source material from the experiences of her parents and grandparents, she tell a far different tale than that of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books. I always visualize this story as being that of a young couple living on the far opposite side of town from the Ingalls. One might expect to see Pa, Ma, and Laura in the distance walking down the street, but this is not their story. Many tales you may read about in biographies of Laura are told here in fictionalized form.

“Free Land” is somewhat darker than the Little House books, and is an adult’s story (though nothing is terribly inappropriate for younger readers, very young children may not care for it) with some of the harsher aspects of the pioneering life shown more vividly. It is also told from a young adult male’s point of view, and so deals often with his struggles to be a responsible provider for a growing family–you can see both Almanzo Wilder and Charles Ingalls in him–while balancing against his desire for freedom and adventure.

Rose and Laura were very different writers and, in reading this book, you’ll probably find yourself doubting–as I do–the claims that it was Rose who really wrote the Little House books. Their styles are too different. Rose Wilder Lane is a fine writer in her own right and this book, and her others, are well worth reading.

“Free Land” is a worthy novel in its own right, and as a supplement to the Little House books it is a fine reading experience.


Independence, Kansas Lake Pepin De Smet, South Dakota Rocky Ridge Farm Vinton, Iowa Burr Oak, Iowa Malone, New York Brookfield, Wisconsin Rose Wilder Lane Laura’s Friends Timeline Books and Book Reviews Book Series More Books LIW TV Ingalls-Wilder Family Genealogy