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Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life (South Dakota Biography Series) Paperback – September 1, 2007
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A fascinating and remarkable book that deserves a place on the shelf of every Laura fan. --The Homesteader
Pamela Smith Hill has [created] a work of considerable scholarship and insight. . . . She has dealt along the way with numerous issues raised by critics and by the general readership, together with other matters that few have previously thought to discuss. In all of this, her extensive research, her careful scholarship and her measured style, combined with her obvious enthusiasm for her subject, have produced a work which we believe adds in substantial measure to the critical literature involving Wilder and Lane. --The Little House Heritage Trust
I vote for Pamela Smith Hill s book. I ve read all of the Bio s about Laura and felt that this one was one of the best. It gave a very clear portrait of the relationship Laura and Rose had while writing the books. It pointed out very clearly that even if Rose had some participation with editing/story development, the stories were Laura s. Smith points out that Rose s experience with writing fiction was limited, that she wrote for magazines and was not generally considered a fiction writer. Only short stories. --Lori Berg, Beyond Little House
About the Author
Pamela Smith Hill is the editor of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography (2014) and three historical novels for young adults Ghost Horses, The Last Grail Keeper, and Voice from the Border. She has taught creative and professional writing at universities in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, as well as a course on Laura Ingalls Wilder through Missouri State University. She grew up forty miles from Rocky Ridge Farm, launched her writing career not far from De Smet, and now lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
Top customer reviews
The only flaw is that this book seems to so desperately want to dis-prove the "Rose did it all" theory that it goes overboard now and then. While she makes an excellent case for LIW's core writing talent, she does belabor the point now and then. I get it, I get it, Laura is an amazing storyteller, Rose was an awesome editor, but Rose didn't write them. Move on.
This is definitely a book those who are interested in the real, historical Laura. If you only want the magic of the Little House Laura, this is not for you.
After reading this book, I feel that I know and understand Laura much better. It turned her from a literary character into a real woman who lived the life of a farm wife. Such facts, like the true story of the long winter, were amazing. I only felt that it sort of left Almanzo out of the picture most of the time while concentrating on Laura and Rose. In my mind, you just can't have Laura without Almanzo, and I would have liked to hear more about him.
Over the years I've read everything I could get my hands on about Laura. I have also visited all the sites in her books as well as Mansfield, MO a number of times. I thought I knew all there was to know, but this book proved me wrong.
This biography is a little more dry reading than other LIW biographies have been. In fact I gave up reading this book after the first couple of chapters quite awhile ago and recently picked it up again as I was hoping to freshen my memory in preparation for my first trip to a LIW homesite. (Mansfield MO, an amazing experience by the way.) The details that I crave are here. The historical information appears to be factual and coincides with the other information I have previously learned of Laura and her family. None of the pictures in the book were new to me nor was most of the chapters detailing Laura's childhood days. The book probably would have been an average book in my opinion but it manages to stand out due to the in depth information about Laura's book writing years. I found the information about Laura, Rose, and the literary agents/publishers to be relatively new to me and extremely interesting. The book references Laura's manuscript "Pioneer Girl" quite a bit and I enjoyed that as well.
The author does touch upon the greatest of Laura Ingalls Wilder controversies...The Laura/Rose connection. Who was really the genius behind the LIW books. I agreed with Smith Hill's premise that the books wouldn't have been the same if only one of these fantastic authors had been involved. Laura was the heart and soul of the series, Smith Hill claims. Rose Wilder Lane cleaned the books up and made them readable with her gift of editing. Rose also had a really great gift of knowing what would make a piece of writing marketable. Together mother and daughter made these books the timeless works of art that they are.
I love Laura so of course I want to think she was as wonderful a person as she appears at the surface. At first I was afraid of digging too deep and finding out less than flattering things that might destroy some of my views of her. What I have found instead is that I am even more intrigued by Laura because she was a real person. She had faults and failings just like anyone does. That said, this biography definitely is more pro-Laura than pro-Rose. Pamela Smith-Hill doesn't paint a very pleasant picture of Laura's daughter Rose. She claims Rose was mentally unstable and depressed. (There is quite a bit of source material that agrees with these claims.) Every time the biography discusses a feud of some kind between Laura and Rose the author is quick to suggest that Rose was the one always in the wrong. I believe that Rose was depressed. I believe the life she was born into never was one she wanted for herself. I think she was very different from her mother in many ways but in some things the two were very alike. Laura surely wasn't always innocent but Rose was unlikely the bad guy this biography makes her out to be.
"A Writer's Life" probably isn't for the casual LIW fan, but I do recommend it if you are especially interested in LIW's writing days and/or her relationship with her daughter. I just wish someone would find and publish more information about Almanzo.
Most recent customer reviews
Wilder fan my whole life. This book gave me a better understanding of her life and her books.