Monday, June 11, 2018

Reviewing Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Book Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited.
I just finished reading Caroline: Little House, Revisited.  It is beautiful historical fiction by Sarah Miller and written from the perspective of Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie fame. Caroline was written with permission from the Little House Heritage Trust and with a focus on historical accuracy. Little House on the Prairie fans will recognize the Ingalls family and this fan was thrilled to find a book written from the perspective of an adult in the family.

If you have ever tried to imagine what it might have been like to be a parent in the late 1800's, hauling your children and every belonging you own across the states in a covered wagon, you'll want to read this story. I found myself trying to carve more time out of each busy day to read. 

Caroline begins as Charles sells their house and land in Wisconsin. In February 1870, the Ingalls family loads the covered wagon (complete with the cover sewn by Ma) and heads toward Kansas - leaving all of their extended family behind.

As the story unfolds, the love Ma has for Charles, Mary, Laura and the child she carries within her is clear. Her thoughts and fears of moving to a new land, transcend the decades and resonated with me. She is pregnant and leaving the family who helped her birth her children. Who, if anyone, will help her when the time comes?



Finally arriving in Kansas, the Ingalls family begins to set up a home. Life totters precariously on the brink at times as they build their home, dig a well, and settle in Indian Territory. The cultures are clearly very different and there are no translation apps at their fingertips to help provide any sort of communication assistance. 

Times were different then. Daily chores (cooking, sewing, darning, taking care of the garden and the animals) moved at a slower pace. Sundays were the sabbath and the family strictly observed the sabbath. Parenting was different. Ma worked at protecting her young children from anything that may cause them fear - including any stressful feelings she and Pa had. Adults and children had clear roles - very different than modern parenting.

I found this to be a beautiful book. I could relate to Caroline's inner dialogues and her observations of the world around her. Without the distractions and noise pollution of modern life, it would have been easier to note the sunlight shining through the canopy of the wagon and the prairie grass waving in the wind. Of course our private thoughts will become more clear if the constant assault on our ears by televisions, radios, cell phones and each other is absent. 

Some reviewers found Caroline's observations to be distracting. I found them to be beautiful and an integral part of the story. Perhaps that is because I have similar thoughts and observations while alone and off-grid at The Shack. Without the clutter of modern life, the mind drifts to the natural things around us.

There was one piece of the story that I found a bit confusing as a Little House on the Prairie fan (confusing but not distracting from the story at that point). Ms. Miller speaks to that in her Author's Notes in the end:
"Caroline is a marriage of fact and Laura Ingalls Wilder's fiction. I have knowingly departed from Wilder's version of the events only where the historical record stands in contradiction to her stories"
Caroline: Little House, Revisited was a beautiful story and one of those books that I will read again later - just as I read Little House on the Prairie over and over.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

7 comments:

  1. Always calming to 'visit in books' a time period less chaotic than ours in today's world and to find ourselves experiencing it with a familiar family (the Ingalls). Thanks so much for your review, Dawn Rae. This book will find it's place on my "To Read" list right away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elf, if you do read it, I hope you let me know if you liked it or not.

      Delete
  2. I always loved the Little House on the Prairie books. They are some of the first books I can actually remember choosing on my own, checking out from the library, and reading when I was a child. As an adult, I think I would very much appreciate a book written about the same family and times but from the mother's perspective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you will like it alot. If you read it, you'll have to let me know what you think.

      Delete
  3. I love the Little House on the Prairie books too and know that I would LOVE this one too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. We love stories like this one too! Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, stories that let you have an insight into other peoples lives and the troubles they have learned to deal with. Stories of human endurance and joy at surviving another day in the wilds. So many lessons to be learned each and every day.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Goodness, I used to never miss a TV Episode of Little House on the Prairie. I have mad respect for our ancestors and what they endured. I often think of one of my sets of ancestors on my dads side who immigrated to Canada in 1842 and the journey they made from one county to another in Ontario (they're five hours apart my driving) - can't imagine the grueling journey it took to hoof and buggy it back then. They were amongst the first to settle in Wellington County in Ontario and are marked and honored in history as one of the founding families of that county. They're buried in a grave site deemed historical. I was lucky enough to visit the home of one of the extended family members of that time - that farm still exists today, and the house is occupied and is as it was over 165 years ago. They're plight reminds me so much of Little House on the Praire.

    ReplyDelete