Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder

As a child who grew up watching Little House on the Prairie on the television it is something of a surprise that it has taken well and truly into adulthood for me to actually pick up the original book.

This is the third book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series.  But I thought I would start with the namesake anyway.

It follows the Ingalls family from The Little House in the Big Woods as they head out to “Indian Country” and the prairie.  We learn a little about the daily routines of covered wagon travel, building a log cabin and establishing a farm from nothing.  It is a really easy read.  The language is straightforward and the story is told in a plain manner.  Bearing in mind the author is, essentially, describing aspects of her childhood you might be inclined to say that it is told in a slightly cool and distant way.

I enjoyed the story immensely, especially the chapter surrounding Christmas and Mr Edwards’ meeting with Santa Claus.  That was simply charming.  The chapters at the very end of the book dealing with the Indians and the war cries at night made my skin crawl.  The thought of children out in a place that was essentially undefended, should the incumbent peoples decide to oust the interlopers in the quickest and severest manner possible, both raised questions of “What were they thinking! Such arrogance.”  Tempered by regard for the bravery and pioneering spirit being shown.  I’m still undecided on which view I take on that, other than a mixed one.
What was unexpected (after watching the TV series) was Ma’s racism regarding the Indians.  Ma in the TV series seems to be calm, unruffled and generally a “good woman”.  While she is some of those things in the books, she is also plainly of her time – white folk are civilised, red folk are not.  Pa does not show up like this in this book.  I wonder if he will in any of the others.

Despite the appearance of being 5 or 6 years old in this story, chronologically Laura would only have been 2 or 3.*  So that could explain the detached feeling to the writing.

I enjoyed this enough to convince me to start at the beginning and work my way through the entire series.  It should make interesting reading and give an insight into the pioneers of the American mid-west.  This gets a solid four stars from me.

* thanks Wikipedia for that.

Today in history: George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) was born. (British novelist)

In light of the upcoming election, here is an apt quote.

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.
– George Eliot

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