Book Reviews

Caroline: Little House, Revisited
by Sarah Elizabeth MillerReports of abundant land in Kansas Territory convince Charles Ingalls that his family’s future lies west of the Mississippi. His (pregnant) wife Caroline is apprehensive, but dutifully packs up their belongings and prepares for a 700-mile covered wagon journey. Authorized by the Little House literary estate, Caroline unfolds from the perspective of Ma Ingalls; the narrative bridges the events of Little House in the Big Woodsand Little House on the Prairie, in case you’re inspired to revisit the original series.
The son of a successful Dutch industrialist, 14-year-old Jacob Koopman enjoys a privileged upbringing that includes sailing lessons and…a summer at Hitler Youth Camp? Jacob’s father, eager to cultivate business contacts, encourages his sons to embrace German culture — until Holland is invaded and the Koopman family loses everything. Should they flee the country? Collaborate with the Nazis? Join the resistance? There are no easy answers in this dramatic coming-of-age story.

Image result for prairie fires bookONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW‘S 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2017

The first comprehensive historical biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie books

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls?the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser?the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series?masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder’s tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.

The Little House books, for all the hardships they describe, are paeans to the pioneer spirit, portraying it as triumphant against all odds. But Wilder’s real life was harder and grittier than that, a story of relentless struggle, rootlessness, and poverty. It was only in her sixties, after losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, that she turned to children’s books, recasting her hardscrabble childhood as a celebratory vision of homesteading?and achieving fame and fortune in the process, in one of the most astonishing rags-to-riches episodes in American letters.

Spanning nearly a century of epochal change, from the Indian Wars to the Dust Bowl, Wilder’s dramatic life provides a unique perspective on American history and our national mythology of self-reliance. With fresh insights and new discoveries, Prairie Fires reveals the complex woman whose classic stories grip us to this day.