Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Laura Ingalls Wilder, born in a log cabin in Wisconsin in 1867, published eight novels based on her frontier childhood. The much-loved Little House on the Prairie series has charmed several generations, and an equally beloved TV show based on it aired from 1974 to 1983. Anderson, her biographer and the author of several other Wilder-themed books such as The Little House Guidebook, assembles letters spanning 62 years of her long, productive life, from 1894 to 1956. They mix Wilder's common-sense advice, acute observations of Americana, and nostalgia for her childhood. Some radiate the pioneer virtues, spirited optimism, and pluck that give Wilder's books enduring appeal. Others reflect a sharp-eyed entrepreneur intent on building her brand. A number of letters provide rich descriptions of road trips through California and the still untamed West, and in one, Wilder notes she is grateful to be driving in a car, rather than a covered wagon. Wilder was unfailingly gracious to her many fans; she wrote back to one admirer who had sent her a photograph, "You look like a person it would be pleasant to know." Wilder's letters display a writer who kept her head amid growing fame, remaining sweet, down-to-earth, and immensely likable until her death in 1957. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) scholar Anderson (River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain, 2003, etc.) presents a collection of her heretofore unpublished personal and business letters. This collection is by no means exhaustive, and in his introduction, editor Anderson laments that many of Wilder's letters were lost. Still, the letters written to her daughter Rose Wilder Lane during the production of the Little House series open a window into the author's writing process and her apparent collaboration with her daughter on the series. The anthology is often uneven, especially the first few chapters, in which many of the letters are edited in a manner that leaves their contents unclear and others are short postcards that convey no relevant information. Anderson provides some brief context, but only readers intensely interested in the minutiae of Wilder's lifefor instance, what kind of melons she sent to her husbandwill find these engaging. Anderson warns that passages that "contain redundant information" will be replaced throughout the book with either ellipses or italicized summaries of the contents, but in these early chapters, the ellipses are ubiquitous, and it is rarely clear what redundancies have been edited. Eventually, though, the collection becomes delightful as Wilder begins work on her famous book series. Letters sent to her daughter, editor, agent, and fans all demonstrate intriguing aspects of her childhood, home life, and writing process. It's unfortunate that the collection contains so few of the letters written to Wilder by others. One of the pleasures of reading correspondence is the feeling of intimacy conferred by seeing a relationship unfold. With only one side of the many relationships portrayed here, some of that intimacy is lost. As with many volumes of selected letters, this one is studded with interesting material but patchy overall. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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