Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder – Caroline Fraser

Prairie FiresEveryone knows about the early life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. After all, the books she wrote were mostly autobiographical, weren’t they? Well, it seems that they were mostly fiction, polished and edited. Her childhood was darker than portrayed in the books, filled with abject poverty, hunger, cold, one disaster after another. And her early adulthood was not much better.

This is a detailed record of Laura Wilder’s life. The author used unpublished letters, diaries, manuscripts, land records, and deeds to shine a light on her story, and it is not always a flattering light. Historical accounts from newspapers set the scene, giving the reader a knowledge of what was happening in America. The woman who emerges is strong, resourceful, resilient, able to face anything. But she was not the woman I was expecting. This was a rather long book, but it was easy to read and hard to put down. The hardships of Wilder’s early life were common to the homesteaders and even those who haven’t read the Little House books will find it interesting.

eGalley review                                             Publication date 11.21.17

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