What happened between the adolescent years, dramatized in her novels, and the period between 1943 and 1957, when she was basking in the glow of her readers' affection? "To write her 'autobiographical' novels," Miller notes, "Wilder needed to undergo a process of becoming, which depended heavily upon the inheritance that she had received both from her family and, across the years, from the various environments in which she lived."
One minor flaw in this otherwise reverent biography is Miller's incredulity that such an ordinary, farm-town woman could become such a famous and sophisticated author. He strains to identify the extraordinary, formative moments--Wilder's various memberships in local political organizations; her apprenticeship as a farm-journal columnist; her relationship with her talented and precocious daughter, Rose. More interesting is his curiosity about how she came to be an independent career woman in a time of limited options for women, in a place (the Ozarks of Missouri) remote, isolated, and tradition bound.
Ingalls Wilder's daughter, the extraordinary Rose Wilder Lane (prominent in the American literary scenes in the 1920s and 1930s), had a major role in the production of her mother's novels. Indeed, the remarkable mother-daughter relationship itself makes the book well-worth reading. Laura would learn to write from her daughter; however Miller argues against the widely held belief that it was Rose Lane's sophisticated writing skills that transformed and polished her mother's novels.
Miller begins with the history of the Ingalls family and their first settlement, which was in Wisconsin along the banks of the Mississippi River. The history unfolds at a sprightly pace and paints the hardscrabble pioneer life in bright colors--the family's search for good farmland that drives them to Missouri; the physical challenges of the prairie; plagues of locusts; the fragile farm economy; and the burgeoning immigrant population. This biography will appeal to readers already hooked by the Little House series and hungry for the facts of Laura Ingalls Wilder's life independent of the myths that grew out of her fiction. --Hollis Giammatteo
I am in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder. My Father was born and raised in DeSmet, SD, where Laura's family finally settled down to live. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Laurel Wadley
Very nicely written and researched! I enjoyed the third party perspective of the writings and relationships of one of my childhood favourite authors!Published 5 months ago by Cindy
The only reason I'm giving this a 2 star is because the History (non Laura) was interesting but I couldn't finish this book... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Rosa Cline
This is a copy/paste from my Goodreads.com review.
If you're looking for a good read about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, there are better ones out there than this one. Read more
I have almost finished this book and have enjoyed it very much. Other reviewers do have a point: the writing doesn't exactly "flow," but I have enjoyed reading about the historical... Read morePublished on January 6, 2012 by czkeys
I read this and William Holtz's biography of the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, "The Ghost in the Little House," in tandem, hoping to find a bit of truth about... Read morePublished on April 30, 2011 by MarlowesMom
I wanted to know more about the woman behind the novels and so I got this book. I found it to be truly unsatisfying because it didn't offer much information about Laura herself as... Read morePublished on January 26, 2011 by cynthia katz
I'm purposely not looking at the other reviews before writing this one, although I DID look at them briefly prior to purchasing this book. Read morePublished on September 15, 2010 by hanky girl