*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie" by Wendy McClure

Let me start this review by saying you probably won't enjoy this book as much if you are not a fan of the Little House series. Wendy McClure has a tendency to gush about these books and her adventures but if you are a fan, you are likely gushing right along side her. If you are not a fan, you will either be very bored or rather annoyed. Luckily I am a huge fan and have even been lucky enough to visit some of the places McClure visited as well (oh what I wouldn't give to visit all of them though).

Basically this book is McClure's journey with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her rediscovery of the Little House on the Prairie books as well as a little bit of obsession. She starts off small by acquiring a churn to make her own butter and grinding her own wheat to make bread like that in The Long Winter. But that just isn't enough. A good chunk of the book is dedicated to her travels to various Ingalls/Wilder home sites including those in Little House in the Big WoodsFarmer Boy, and DeSmet, South Dakota where a number of the books take place. Reading this was an absolute delight for me and I simply could not put it down. It does discuss many of the facts about the various people and characters, but it doesn't work as a replacement for one of the many biographies that are available. This book is solely a focus on McClure's personal journey and I absolutely love it for that.

A few years ago, my mom, her best friend and I took a vacation to South Dakota. It didn't occur to me right away that we were going to be in one of the areas that Wilder had lived but as soon as I made the connection, I was determined to see as many sites as possible. Things worked out well as we had accidentally planned our vacation at the same time as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Would you believe that even though the state was filled with thousands of bikers, very few of them wanted to visit the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder? Needless to say, we spent a good chunk of time at these sites. Being the reader that I am, I just kept hauling one Wilder related book after another into the RV. Had I thought even farther ahead, I would have made a list of the spin-off books I was missing since I couldn't remember for sure which ones I owned and which ones I had just borrowed (and it's not always easy to find the books I want in my town). Not that it mattered, I think I added about 30 books to my collection on that trip alone. I am so pleased to add The Wilder Life to my collection. On this trip I worried that I was slightly crazed. Reading McClure's book helped me realize that there are others out there that are just as crazy as I am.

Unlike McClure, I never felt any let down upon visiting these places. Maybe because I knew so much about both the fictionalized world of the Ingalls as well as their reality, I didn't get as much disappointment out of the trip. For me, reading this book was almost as good as actually visiting places that Laura herself had graced. Some day I hope to travel to more of her past homes (or at least the museums that have since been established), but until then, living vicariously through this book is fun too!

 
Ingalls' Home
© Beauty and the Armageddon
Surveyor's House
© Beauty and the Armageddon
Replica of the Ingalls' homestead
© Beauty and the Armageddon
© Beauty and the Armageddon

Happy Reading!
-Melly

2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this wonderful review. This book looks really interesting, I think I'll be picking it up soon. Thanks for sharing. And you have a lovely blog by the way. Good Books To Read

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