Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Wilder Life My Adventures In The Lost World of Little House On The Prairie by Wendy McClure

This is one of the most fun and funniest books I've read in a long time. I’m not a big Little House on the Prairie fan, but I was so intrigued by this book I had to give it a try and I am so glad I did.

After her mother’s death, children’s book editor and writer, Wendy McClure decides to revisit her girlhood obsession with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, often with hilarious results.

She begins with Google, reading everything she can find about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. She draws up an itinerary of places mentioned in them that still exist, as well as museums, festivals, pageants, and even look-alike contests, and plans a road trip. She prepares recipes from the Little House Cookbook and is surprised to discover that Ma’s Vanity Cakes are made with one to two pounds of lard. She attempts to make syrup-on-snow candy only to discover the results are more like “sludge nuggets” that fuse your teeth together and horehound candy tastes brown, but in a good way, kind of like solidified Dr. Pepper. Disastrous adventures in breadmaking follow; she even buys an antique coffee grinder so she can grind seed wheat by hand in order to replicate the primitive flour used in Laura’s day.  Then there’s the quest for the perfect butter churn on ebay. When she finds it she sits on the couch churning butter in front of the tv while watching episodes of Little House On The Prairie. “I felt like a genius and a complete idiot at the same time,” she candidly admits.

In the museums, she views the precious relics—Pa’s fiddle, Ma and Pa’s wedding tintype, Mary’s Braille books, the glass bread plate Laura bought from a Montgomery Ward catalog, the orange covered notebooks Laura bought from a drugstore to write the Little House books in,  and a white lawn dress she made for herself.

As her enthusiasm continues, Wendy signs herself, and her very patient, supportive, and understanding boyfriend up for a homesteading weekend on a farm, dreaming of demonstrations of blacksmithing and soapmaking and how to use a spinning wheel, only to discover upon arrival that it’s actually a group of End Timers obsessed with the survivalist skills they will need to survive the coming apocalypse.

Whether you’re a fan of Little House on the Prairie or not, this is such a fun read I have to recommend it. I knew the Little House books, as well as the television series were popular in their day and are still very much loved, but I had no idea they were the object of such obsession for so many people. This book is just plain fun. And Tabby enjoyed it too, especially after I bought her an orange yarn pigtail wig and dressed her up as Laura.

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