|Book Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited.|
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.
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