Laura Ingalls Wilder is widely loved as the author of the Little House books that detail her life growing up in woods and on the prairies that were the frontiers of her time. Yet unknown to readers and publishers of the time and even until recently, Laura’s daughter Rose had a substantial hand in crafting those stories for children. Rose was a well-recognized writer on her own, and it was she who encouraged her mother to write, then substantially cleaned up her stories so they were fit for publication.
In A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses, author Susan Wittig Albert fictionalizes this real-life story while shedding light on the lives of both Laura and her daughter.
Rose was a world traveler who attracted and encouraged artistic types to join her at her parents’ farm in rural Missouri. She eventually became responsible for paying some of her parents’ expenses as well as those of a few orphaned children who captured her heart. Much of the story in A Wilder Rose takes place during The Great Depression, when Rose was writing incessantly to feed, clothe and shelter her cobbled together family. It seems at first her motivation in helping her mother publish the first books in the series, Little House in the Big Woods, was to establish a source of income that would help her parents more securely weather the lean years.
The complicated relationship between mother and daughter is at the heart of the story. Rose longs to travel and be with other educated progressive artists. Her mother is content with a simpler life and seeks to have her daughter close by. Rose’s drive to continue writing and producing stories in spite of the setbacks she suffers is inspiring. Her ups and downs with her mother also reveals a loving daughter who wants to care for her parents while longing to be free of them. It’s a dichotomy I’m sure many women will identify with.
The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.