Review by Choice Review
Koupal intends this collection to expand scholarly context for the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), particularly her posthumously published memoir Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, ed. by Pamela Smith Hill (CH, Jul'15, 52-5760). The 11 essays are divided into thematic groupings that explore Wilder as writer, mythmaker, historian, and brand. The first essays examine Wilder's complex version of "truth" and look at her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, clarifying the daughter's contributions to her mother's texts via writing and editing, and her control over her mother's public image. Subsequent essays look at Wilder's dismissal of feminist beliefs and at her identity as a pioneer. The collection just begins to raise questions about why Wilder's books are still so popular, despite their white supremacist values and content, and their racist content regarding Native and African American people. Only three of the essays in the book even touch on this, a gap that is the biggest flaw in this otherwise interesting and diverse collection. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. --Deborah J. Brothers, Lincoln Land Community College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Published in 2014, Pioneer Girl, the handwritten memoir that was the basis of Laura Ingalls Wilder's widely popular Little House on the Prairie series, emerged as a surprise bestseller. Editor Koupal (Our Landlady), director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press, here gathers essays that reflect on Wilder's work, focusing on Pioneer Girl but including the finished novels. The essays discuss the writing process of both Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, Wilder's daughter and editor; the publication history of the Little House books; their historical context; and the books as myth and literature. There's some overlap, but the essays offer a rich diversity of subject matter. The stronger pieces include those by Elizabeth Jameson, who highlights the harrowing context of child labor, violence, and sexual threat in Pioneer Girl, and Paula M. Nelson, who examines Wilder's now outmoded understanding of women's place in society. The essays strike a balance between hagiography and exposé; all are even-handed in their treatment of Wilder's life and writing, not glossing over views she held that clash with modern sensibilities. These informative essays will be of considerable interest to Wilder fans and scholars. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.