Thoughts – Little House on the Prairie

I haven’t read this book since I was, I don’t remember actually, but I was much younger than I am now. When it came up as a possible July title for the Book Hoarders Anonymous Book Club, I was excited to pick it up again and see what I thought of it as an adult. Here’s the discussion post if you’re interested.

First, as a child, I loved this book. I read it over and over thinking how wonderful it would be to live in a log cabin, days to run free in the prairie, chasing animals, and sitting nights by the fire. As I got older, that stopped appealing which is probably why this book moved to the back of my bookshelf and was replaced by fantasy books. Hello Tolkien! Re-reading it now, I had an entirely different reaction, and not surprisingly, a more adult reaction.

Second, a few things that stood out to me. When Charles Ingalls decides to move his family out west, he packs up the wagon and heads out. There was no family discussion at all except for his wife Caroline saying something like, “If that’s what you think is best Charles.” Of course. Insert big eye roll here. His wanting to be away from everyone and everything was something I couldn’t identify with. Living in a city with close proximity to people and services, I love the idea of getting away from it all, but I don’t want to live away from it all. I can appreciate his adventurous spirit though. However, something about moving your family to the middle of nowhere with no help or contact with family, or any other people, strikes me as foolish. But that’s what people did and that’s how the plains were changed. I won’t get into the implications this had on the Native American tribes living in this area at the time. Obviously, my thoughts on this are very different then they were as a child, if I even had any thoughts about this as a child which I probably didn’t. I was happy to see that Charles was not quite as close-minded as Caroline though in his thinking even if he was still off the mark. If you want more on this, Jillian at A Room of One’s Own has some interesting thoughts about it. (Side note: Thanks for the link in your review Alison. Gave me a new way to view a story I’m familiar with.)

Now, the story. You know what, it held up for me. I read it on a Sunday afternoon curled up on my couch remembering all the wonderful things about this book and why I loved it so much as girl. There’s adventure, change, a tight knit family, and it has a homespun, charming quality to it. One part I forgot about was Jack the family dog. Don’t worry this is not a spoiler because it happens in chapter two. As the family is crossing the river, Jack gets lost when he has to swim for it himself. Why they don’t put him in the wagon baffles me but they didn’t. It get depressing for a while here and I was a miffed at Charles then remembered that Jack did make it across the river and joins up with the Ingalls again who are nothing but happy to see him. As a dog person, this was a little heartwarming moment. Now, Laura is my favorite but I was surprised that I didn’t remember Mary as being so quiet. Yes, Laura gets in trouble, is somewhat jealous of her well-behaved, older sister but I didn’t remember her as so meek and mild. It’s probably because I identified more with Laura and probably never thought much about Mary at all.

As I was reading, visions of the TV show kept popping in my head. No matter how many times it was mentioned that Charles had a beard, I couldn’t picture it because in my head, Charles Ingalls is Michael Landon and he didn’t have a beard. I wish that didn’t happen but I does. I should admit that I was a huge fan of the show as a girl so the two are pretty well intertwined for me.

I enjoyed this book, laughed at it, remembered some sweet things about it, and was glad I took a day to immerse myself it in. It was a complete comfort read and I remembered why these books were a staple for me. You won’t find lyrical prose here. You won’t find an amazing plot. You will find some heartfelt moments of a close and loving family and an adventure of a lifetime for a young girl.

For those not familiar with the series, the books in order are:

Little House in the Big Woods

Little House on the Prairie

On the Banks of Plum Creek

By the Shores of the Silver Lake

The Long Winter

Little Town on the Prairie

The Happy Golden Years

The First Four Years

There is also one book, Farmer Boy, which is based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband’s, childhood.

Thoughts – Little House on the Prairie

By Laura Ingalls Wilder

Illustrated by Garth Williams

HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 0060264454

 

BHA – April Book Club Pick

Book Hoarders Anonymous, BHA for short, is reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle in April. BHA is hosted by Alison at The Cheaper Reader and you can find more information here if you’re curious.

True confession — I finished the book already. 🙂 I’ll be posting a review later in the month but if you want to follow the discussion use this link.

Have you read A Wrinkle in Time? You should.

Review – Anne of Green Gables

This is the first pick for the Book Hoarders Anonymous book club which is hosted by Alison at The Cheap Reader. You can read her review here. There’s a discussion page here if you want to take a look at what others thought of this one.

It’s funny how books that captured your imagination as a child are so very different for you as an adult. I’m not saying Anne of Green Gables was a bad read as an adult but it was so much different than I remember it being. For instance, I don’t remember Anne talking so much. Really, she never shuts up! It’s so endearing though and you come to quickly understand why Matthew and Marilla fell in love with this red-haired orphan. I also remembered the decision as to whether or not Anne would stay was much more drawn out but that could have been how I perceived it as a child. I keep saying as a child because I think the last time I read this book was probably when I was 10.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, brother and sister who live on the Green Gables farm in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, decide to adopt a boy to help out with the farm work since Matthew is getting up in age. Arrangements are made and Matthew leaves to pick up the boy at the train station. He comes home with a red-haired girl who won’t stop talking. Marilla wants to send her back but Matthew has already become attached and sort of nudges Marilla to think about keeping her. Anne, even with her loquacious ways, manages to charm Marilla who decides she can stay. Anne is enchanted with her new home, a new friend, and even her new school. However, she’s not always the proper little girl she should be and gets into several incidents that somehow all manage to work themselves out for the best.

Anne of Green Gables is such a sweet book and pretty funny too. There’s not much that happens in Avonlea that doesn’t get back to Marilla, and Anne, who it must be said is not a bad child in the least, is always doing something that gets talked about. One day it’s flowers in her bonnet, telling ghost stories with her dear friend Diana, or cracking Gilbert Blythe over the head with her writing slate — Marilla hears about it. That’s small town living for you.

Reading this as an adult, I found it a lot funnier than I did as a child. At 10 years-old, Anne was a bit of hero. She was courageous and she stood up for herself. She was a person with guts and she was really smart. I loved all that about her as a child. As an adult, I can see how everything she did was vexing to every adult in her vicinity but it’s also so easy to see how everyone could love her. The kindness and caring stand out to me now but I don’t think I saw that as a child. Now, I’m also amused by the nosy neighbors, the teacher who’s in love with the student, and how parenting styles differ among the women in the story. I’m not saying that to be sexist, but it’s the women in this story that talk about it, not the men.

I’m glad I went back to this as an adult. My appreciation for it is different but all together much the same. Anne of Green Gables will always be a favorite of mine.

Anne of Green Gables

By Lucy Maude Montgomery

GirlieBooks

ISBN: 2940012069979

4 stars