A Wilder Rose is the fictionalized account of Rose Wilder's often-fraught relationship with her mother, particularly when helping her mother write the Little House books. From unpublished diaries and letters, historians and writers are beginning to see that Rose Wilder pretty much wrote the Little House books herself. Rose was a very skilled editor, journalist, and writer and had a lot of experience in the publishing world. Laura, on the other hand, and pretty much no skill, but she had a lot of good stories. Laura and Rose's relationship when writing the Little House books is the basis of this book. According to this book (and who knows how much of this is fictionalized and how much is really based on fact), Rose spent her whole life feeling like Laura didn't quite approve of her. This feeling only intensified when, at the age of 3, Rose was left alone while Laura was sick. Wanting desperately to help, Rose put too much wood on the fire and burned the Wilder's little house down. Rose writes of still remembering that sickening realization of what she had done. This was just the start of many years of severe poverty and hard living. Rose agreed to basically write these books for her mother with no credit because she always felt indebted to her parents because of all the loss they had suffered.
|Rose Wilder Lane|
Once Rose grew up, she was determined to make something of herself and so attended high school in Louisiana with one of Almanzo's (her father) sisters. After that, she attended college and began a high-powered writing career. She had a brief marriage which collapsed shortly after the death of her only son. When the Depression came, Rose returned to the Ozarks to live with her parents. That was when she had her mother began working on the Little House books. The journey from a very unpolished memoir that Laura wrote to the polished stories that we know of today is a fascinating one.
The book is told by Rose to a young aspiring journalist who is living with her. This made for some kind of confusing foreshadowing that I think the author could have worked a little harder to make clear. However, that is my only complaint. I was surprised at how different these well-known characters appeared to be. Laura became a very different, but 3-dimensional, character. This book portrays her as a very domineering, grasping, not-very-nice person. But in spite of these less-than-perfect character traits, we come to identify with and pity both Laura and Rose through this story.
I recommend this book to anybody who has read the Little House books, which is a pretty large percentage of the population! The story is well-told and gives the reader another perspective into these well-known stories. I think that I am going to read a non-fiction book that has just come out about Laura and Rose's relationship. I'll let you know what I think of it and how it compares to this book.
As usual, I have the amazon links for this book and the A Ghost in the Little House, the non-fiction book I'm going to read.