The novel is based on the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane and highlights the years between 1928 and 1939. A more compelling, fascinating blend of fact and fiction could not have been written by these two remarkable women behind "Little House on the Prairie" and the rest of the books in the Little House Series.
"Sometimes we need to use fiction to tell the truth. Sometimes fiction tells a truer story than facts."
As an editor once said to me: "Do not allow the truth to spoil a good story." And it is true of the Little House Series as being one of the best to ever come out of American literature and became popular in just about the entire world, as well as of this novel.
Ghostwriting is also not a cut and paste reality. Sometimes it is done openly, other times there are excellent editors without whom many books would never have seen the light of day and whom are seldom mentioned, as is still happening to this day. There are also ghostwriters who nowadays claim their piece of the cake.
So if anybody suspected anything at the time, nobody was going to blow the whistle."Readers and librarians and teachers and schoolchildren loved the idea of an author who, as a little girl, had lived an adventurous life on the American prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder was good for business."
Many excellent storytellers are not excellent writers, that we know. This was the case with Laura Ingalls Wilder as well."Mama Bess was an oral storyteller. She could recall dozens of stories about her family's pioneer wanderings, but when she wrote them down, they sounded like...well, they sounded like stories told by your favorite grandmother in front of the fire on a winter's night, without--as George Bye, Rose's agent, had once said --"the benefit of perspective or theater."
This novel, however, is the story behind the story. Of two women both set up to rule the roost,like mother like daughter, and the power struggles that ensued."She(Laura) and I (Rose)were like neighboring states with a long history, with shared and very porous boundaries, she constantly invading, I continually repelling."
If it wasn't for Rose accidentally burning down their house as a little girl, and the fall of the Stock Market in 1929, this duo would never have taken place and the popular series would never have been written.
This novel explains in detail how it came about in a very well-written, compassionate tale.
Rose thought she had a responsibility towards her parents, but in the end, thanks to the actions of John, one of her adoptive sons, she finally learnt the truth behind her own choices :
"Generocity as a means of controlling is no gift at all. It's a curse."
It was the years of Depression, drought, hardship and hope in which these two women were forced to live and survive together, trying to get small town morals(Laura) married to a cosmopolitan lifestyle(Rose). They looked backwards while trying to move forward. "Slowly, slowly, and little by little, Glory to your lips. It is so."
It would take eleven years of survival in dire economic conditions and harsh world politics for Rose to grow from a staunch Liberal to Libertarian. "Every American is governed only by the principle of personal responsibility and that his or her most important freedom is the absolute freedom to flourish or fail."
Rose wrote about herself: " I am now a fundamentalist American. Give me time and I will tell you why individualism, laissez-faire, and the slightly restrained anarchy of capitalism offer the possibilities for the development of the human spirit."
This books is about all of the above, but also about mothers and daughters, of bonding and hardships, politics and war, droughts and endurance. And pride.
Mark Twain: "Don't part with your illusions; when they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live."
It is much much more than just biographical fiction.
I recommend it wholeheartedly. What an absolute thought-provoking, yet delightful, spell-bounding experience!