Thursday 4 March 2010

Little House On the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pages - 192

Challenges - Flashback Challenge.

First published in 195

A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carried left their little house in the Big Woods of Winsconsin. They drove away and left it lonely and empty in the clearing among the big trees, and they never saw that little house again.

This is the second book in the series detailing the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This book details the family's move from the Big Woods, where all their family live to the prairies where the Indians dwell. Pa takes his family on a long and dangerous journey in order to stake a claim on a piece of land and build a new home for his family. The book follows their journey through a whole year of their life.

Now reading this as an adult, I found that I didn't enjoy it as much as the first book in the series, The Little House in the Big Woods. This book seemed a very lonely book. The family are completely on their own and to me it seemed such a lonely existence. They were at risk from the perils of nature; the bad weather, a passing panther and the howling pack of wolves. They are also in danger of the growing number of angry Indians who are no longer happy that white people are taking their land.

Each chapter deals with an episodic event during their life on the Prairie. They are detailed accounts but they seem to lack warmth to me. Perhaps I am being too picky. I just wanted more from this book than I got. I think sometimes I forget that the story is written from the viewpoint of a child, which often makes the story come across as a 'What I Did on the Weekend' exercise.

If you haven't read this book and are planning to, please ignore the next paragraph,as it does have a spoiler alert concerning the end of the book.

This book is a lot darker and a lot more real than the first. It shows how difficult life really was, especially when they end up having to leave their house at the end of the book. All that hard work, to build a house, a stable and furniture, all to be left behind as the government threaten to arrest Pa for taking land away from the Indians. They have to leave again to start all over anew. It seemed like such a waste of a year to me.

The main reason I didn't like this book as much as the first, was because of the amount of chapters which dealt with the building of the property. I felt like I had picked up a DIY manual. It went into great detail about how to build the house and the stable, which was of little interest to me and did not have me yearning for a hammer and a set of nails. I didn't feel with this book that we got the full effect of really living on the prairie.

There was very little dialogue within the book as the family really didn't have anyone to talk to or anything to actually talk about as not a lot happened. They were always on the brink of things happening, which ended up always just passing them by.

I hope to read the rest of this series as this is as far as I have ever got with it. I am hoping that the third book 'On The Banks of Plum Creek' is a lot more interesting. Has anyone read the third book and can they recommend it?


  1. I read them all so long ago, I only remember that they were different from the tvseries

  2. I have to confess I've never read these, and I worry that as an adult I just won't be able to see the appeal :\

  3. I haven't read these either and I don't think I plan on doing so now. Great review, anyway!

  4. Thanks for that spoiler alert Vivienne. I read the first book a long time ago and its funny you should mention this one today because I have just received a copy from niece #2 who has been reading it in school. Only 11 she also picked up on the lonliness.

  5. Did you mean to have the title as Little House on the Bed? :-)

    I loved these books as a child and it is interesting to see how selective my memory is or how much I picked up in the stories. I never knew that bit about Pa and why they had to move on. I do remember then going into detail about the building and I wonder if I just glossed over that a bit. I don't remember that it ate up the book, so I probably did.

  6. I have wanted to read this series in its entirety for years - and just have not made the time to do it. At this point, it is my goal to read the series with my grandchildren :)

    My son and I would watch the re-runs of the Little House television show every morning from 9:00 to 10:00 for two solid years. It is still a wonderful memory that we both share.

  7. Vivienne, I read the first book in this series and loved it. Then I read West From Home, a collection of letters (mostly by Laura Ingalls Wilder), which is wonderful.

    Nymeth, I think these books will appeal to you as an adult. :)

  8. I read the whole series (over and over again) when I was younger. So while my recollection is not the clearest, I do remember the books getting better and better as they go on. I think this is an aspect of Laura's character getting older. I also think it has something to do with how it's easier to remember things from the later years than from the earlier years. So the later books have more conversations and vivid details (at least in my memory).

    My personal favorite is The Long Winter, but I like all of the later books a lot more than the earlier ones.

  9. Blodeuedd - It has been so long since I saw the series that I can't remember what happened in it.

    Nymeth - I agree with Suko, you should give them a chance.

    Andreea - the first one was lovely. It was only the second one that I found a bit of a bore.

    Petty Witter - your neice has all the signs of a book lover there. Maybe even a future book blogger.

  10. Nicole - LOL - no I didn't mean to put bed, I have no idea why I did that. I must be losing my brain.

    Molly -the programme has recently come out on DVD, so I am tempted to start watching them again.

    Suko - West From Home sounds really good. I shall add it to my list.

    Alyce - I won't give up on the series then.

  11. This one doesn't appeal to me at all. I really hated the programme but Mum & Dad loved anything with a Western theme so it was on the box a lot... plus I think Mum had a thing for the long haired bloke that played the angel Highway to Heaven... he was the Dad in Little House I think *g* I remember her saying he could keep his slippers under her bed anytime. Him and Sully from Medicine Woman... oh and Rock the wrestler.... yes, well, that was my Mum LOL!

    Anyway I digress... the programme and the books just really don't appeal to me even more so if it is mainly talking about building :)

    Good review Vivienne.

  12. I read these books so long ago but I did take out the first one to listen to on audio not long ago. I still really like the stories. My parents grew up on farms and they had a lot of hardships portrayed in the book so maybe that's why I like them.

  13. Viv,
    I too read this series over and over again as a child and then I re-read the entire series as an adult, (3 years ago) and enjoyed them even more! I have always appreciated how they portray the hardships that our pioneers suffered through to tame this wide vast land.
    Like others, I think they do get better as the series goes on--I remember liking On the Banks of Plum Creek a lot, but I have to say that I have never read Farmer Boy and don't plan to. In my mind the books need to be about Laura and her family--and only them! ;) My very favorite is The Long Winter, with These Happy Golden Years as a very close 2nd.
    I will be interested to read what you think of the next ones!

    Another pioneer story that I adored as an adult (and cried my way through the end of) is A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. It spans one woman's life as she starts out for the plains of Nebraska as a young bride and chronicles the life she and her husband and children carve out for themselves--I found it a gripping story.

  14. awwww...little house. I've never read these but I used to love the tv show.

  15. I read the whole series when I was little. I think I still have my copies somewhere. But I can't distinguish between the books at all anymore!


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