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The First Four Years (Little House) Paperback – April 8, 2008
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"The vast number of devotees of the earlier books will rejoice in [this] important sequel to "These Happy Golden Years.""-- "Horn Book"
From the Back Cover
Laura Ingalls Wilder is beginning life with her new husband, Almanzo, in their own little house. Laura is a young pioneer wife now, and must work hard with Almanzo, farming the land around their home on the South Dakota prairie. Soon their baby daughter, Rose, is born, and the young family must face the hardships and triumphs encountered by so many American pioneers.
And so Laura Ingalls Wilder's adventure as a little pioneer girl ends, and her new life as a pioneer wife and mother begins. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America's frontier past and a heartwarming, unforgettable story.
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My reaction to this story is that it is realistic because it documents the truth that life is NEVER easy for even the best and brightest . Much of the "success" a person achieves is simply correlated to the attitude he displays when confronted with a challenge or disappointment . I was grateful that the hardships were NOT ignored : health scares, crop failures, disastrous weather and tensions between a man and a woman who disagree .There are lessons to be treasured here on the truth that life is an obstacle course for each person who inhabits this world , and every generation is presented with a varying and unique assortment of predicaments that create something called "HISTORY".
I loved visualizing Laura 's world and her challenges along with the simple pleasures she enjoyed like wild flowers, her hand made storage kitchen cabinet , and the one seat sleigh or 'cutter' that provided winter transportation across the prairie in harsh winter weather.
AS a girl I remember walking to the local library and checking out this series of books. In hindsight I believe that they created a lifelong passion for history and a fascination for learning about the challenges of previous generations . I am now a 60 year old woman , and still derive great pleasure from reading about Laura's world . Her books provide cherished vivid escape even still.
Those who are interested in Laura's life might also enjoy the memoirs of Flora Lewis "Larkrise To Candleford" .
I had always adored Wilder's portrayal of her pioneer youth. With every Little House book I finished, I found myself charged with energy to go extract maple sap, grind my own flour, or make cheese the good old fashioned way. No matter how tough Wilder's youth had been, she had always managed to weave a great deal of hope in her stories and a general sentiment that everything would turn out okay. The First Four Years is no different, but because of its lack of completion (and thus, closure) and editing, it carries a definitely more grown-up air than the rest of the Little House books. Wilder doesn't glance over the hardships in this book the way she did in the others, so at times, it seems bleak and without hope; the reader gets to follow Wilder as she keeps tabs on the family's dire financial situation and her emotional state after a tragic accident where she was partially to blame. The First Four Years made for a fantastic, quick read, but it wasn't exactly the happy return to innocence that I was expecting. I recommend it--but with caution to folks who are expecting the same type of rustic romanticism found in the rest of the series.