The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder is still a household name for many! Laura’s literary novels on her 1800s childhood in the barren American West gave readers a glimpse of what life was like for pioneer families. Any list of classic children’s literature would not be complete without these treasures.
Now, A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert takes on the viewpoint of the author and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, in a biographical fiction format and truly opens our eyes to the real brand creator and records historically the possible relationship between Laura and Rose. Told through the eyes of Rose, Albert used historical letters and diaries in order to complete the account and seems to give an authentic portrayal of their strained and true relationship.
I really have an affinity for books that take famous authors or artists and weave their true tales into fictional novels, giving us a greater appreciation for their famous works. Sometimes to know in-depth the person behind the art or novel can give us a further connection with the piece. In this case, Albert gives us the view that it was truly Rose who is fully responsible for the success of the Little House series.
Historically, Rose had left her family at a young age to aspire to greater things and ended up becoming a very successful journalist and author. After coming home for a visit, The Great Depression hit. Her parents, with Laura in her sixties, were unsure about caring for themselves on the farm. Rose had to stay, essentially crushing some of her own creative and adventurous spirit. Though she loved her parents, she loved to travel and write and her relationship with her mother was strained because she no longer had this outlet. I can totally relate to the feeling that Rose had of wanting to continue to spread her wings with her writing and in her career. However, when Laura presented Rose with her memoirs of her childhood days, Rose saw them for their potential and painstakingly edited and revised in order to turn them into a goldmine, ultimately selling them during one of the most UN-lucrative times in history, The Great Depression.
A Wilder Rose describes their mother-daughter relationship, book branding and publishing at the start of the Century, farm life during The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and The New Deal. This makes it not only an endearing tribute to the strength of the mother-daughter relationship even through hardships, but also a great historical lesson of life in the West and during one of the hardest decades in American history.
Albert is an amazing writer who gently and yet candidly presents us with a story behind one of the most loved children’s book sets of all time. To imagine the work that actually went into creating and marketing these amazing books and ultimately, the brand, was something I had thought little of until reading that this book was publishing. What an amazing story behind-the-scenes of it all! Albert captures Rose’s determination, energy, and motivation and throws them onto the page, along with her anguish and angst over her home situation and her stressful collaboration with her mother, Laura. Albert does a great job of showcasing both sides of the story so that each has their honorable memories intact and embellished.
The amount of research and development that went into this novel by Albert is commendable. I can imagine that Rose would be very proud to be recognized for her efforts in presenting her mother not just as a homemaker from the Ozarks, but as a literary legend who gives us our best glimpse into the American frontier.
I highly recommend this book not only to lovers of the Little House series, but also to those readers interested in the art of novel-writing, those interested in historical author accounts, readers interested in life during The Great Depression, or for those looking for an amazing read about an endearing mother-daughter relationship.
It’s a touching story of a woman who was so wild with the need for success as a writer, but ended up barely being remembered at all for her most pivotal work. Now, she can rest with a little piece of the legacy due to Albert’s recognition. Read this book, it will grow your appreciation for the Little House series in a way you wouldn’t have thought possible!
A Wilder Rose tells the fascinating story of Rose Wilder Lane, a complex, unconventional woman, who in 1903, at the age of 18, fled her parents’ farm and the little town of Mansfield MO, to make a name for herself, becoming a well-known journalist, freelance writer, bestselling author, and world traveler. In 1928, when she left Albania and returned to the Missouri farm to help her parents, she was among the highest-paid American magazine writers.
Then the Crash came and Rose was stranded at the farm, obligated to support elderly parents who could no longer earn even a meager living by farming. With the hope of making some money, her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, brought Rose a handwritten draft of her childhood story. What happened after that is literary history—but not the history we thought we knew, for Rose’s diaries and journals reveal the startling breadth of her contributions to the Little House books and the painful depths of the mother-daughter conflicts that made their collaboration so difficult. The secret collaboration, for the two women concealed their work from their literary agent, their editors, and their readers, even after five of the books were named Newbery Honor Books.
Now, Laura is an iconic figure in American literature and Rose is rarely remembered. Susan Wittig Albert’s compelling novel portrays their untold story in a way that readers won’t forget.
Praise for A Wilder Rose
Susan Wittig Albert fictionalizes history in a way that helps readers better understand [the past]. . . She reopens the controversy over who deserves primary credit for the Little House series while at the same time engagingly
and persuasively reimagines the conflicted mother-daughter relationship, the challenges posed by the Depression, and the heated political atmosphere of the 1930s.—John E. Miller, Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder
Rose Wilder Lane deserves recognition for her coauthorship of the Little House books. . . A revealing behind-the-scenes look into a literary deception that has persisted for decades.—William Holtz, The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane
A compelling depiction of one of the most significant literary collaborations of the 20th century. That the two people involved were mother and daughter adds to its complexity and human interest.—Anita Claire Fellman, Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture
A beautifully written, vivid story . . . a splendid novel for everyone who has loved the Little House books, for all mothers and daughters, and for writers who will see their craft lovingly displayed.—Carolyn Hart, Ghost Gone Wild
Author Susan Wittig Albert, Biography~
Her work includes four mystery series–China Bayles, Darling Dahlias, The Cottage Tales, and (with her husband, Bill Albert), the Robin Paige Victorians—as well as short stories, memoirs, nonfiction, and edited anthologies.
A former English professor, Susan lives in the Texas Hill Country.
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/awilderrosetour
Twitter Hashtag: #WilderRoseTour