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The Wilder Life

The Wilder Life

My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Book - 2011
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In this funny and thoughtful guide to a romanticized version of the American expansion west, children's book editor and memoirist McClure (I'm Not the New Me) attempts to recapture her childhood vision of "Laura World" (i.e., the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books about an 1880s pioneer family).
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Riverhead Books, [2011]
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9781594487804
Branch Call Number: 813.52 McClure
Characteristics: 336 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 07, 2020

An interesting perspective - the author is a fan, but not an obsessive "oh, for those golden days" fan - she blends historical experiments and visits to sites with needed reality checks

OPL_KrisC Jan 31, 2018

I grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie series and still own my tattered paperback copies. Reading this book brought back all my memories of curling up and reading "In the Big Woods" and "On the Banks of Plum Creek". I love how the author traveled to historic sites important to Laura and tried some of Ma's recipes. Her unique experiences and problems she ran into made me laugh at times and also makes me wish I could follow in her footsteps.

Apr 08, 2015

The author, a children's book editor, sets out to explore the real life world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her adventures on the "Laura Trail" include spending a weekend learning frontier skills with a survivalist's group, seeing small town pageants, and driving many, many miles through the upper Midwest. McClure quickly learns that the "Little House on the Prairie" fans fall into two groups -- those who love the books and those who love the TV series with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert. The author also shares the adult life story of Laura and Almanzo Wilder who struggled with poverty for many years until her books became a success.

Nov 09, 2013

I like the Little House On The Prairie books. A lot. Somehow I put all nine books in my 2010 Top Five list. And now I’m reading a book *about* the Little House books. But author Wendy McClure likes them even more, enough to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder museums and to try cooking like a pioneer. Which she admits might be a little weird, but at least she has a good sense of humour about it.

Both semi-autobiographical and semi-biographical, McClure writes about her personal quest for Laura’s world and an elusive something else she is searching for. She also delves into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s non-fictional life as she peers down the rabbit hole of fandom. Turns out, there is not only this book about Laura Ingalls Wilder, there are lots of books about the Ingalls family and their little house. According to McClure, there are websites, research papers, biographies, books, museums, and more. The thing is, reading this book is about as far as I want to go into Laura World. OK, maybe I’d visit a Laura Ingalls homestead if I *happened* to be near one.

branch_reviews May 11, 2012

On a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder McClure retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.
Reviewed by CD

ehbooklover Nov 21, 2011

"The Wilder Life" follows a woman's pilgrimage to all places associated with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books she read and loved as a child. Chock full of interesting facts and laugh-out-loud parts, this book is part travelogue, part journey of self-discovery.

Chitownchica Aug 09, 2011

I thought it was going to be a lot better than it actually was. I love everything, Laura Wilder and Little House, but it was a big let down because the author was really learning about everything as she went-- something she made very clear. Still, there were several laugh out loud moments and I was reminded several times about what I love about LW, LH and the simple life.

LocketLibrarian Aug 08, 2011

Everyone who grew up wishing she was friends with Laura Ingalls, or that she actually WAS Laura needs to read this book.

debwalker Apr 28, 2011

"Wendy McClure is an unsentimental writer, but she loves the Little House On The Prairie books. No, she really loves them. She loves them so much that she bought a butter churn on eBay. And she churned butter — you know, just to see. She took off on a trip with her heroically game boyfriend (who's charming in part because he doesn't insist on making a point of how heroically game he is), and they visited historic places where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, and museums and pageants and kitschy stores where she's still beloved. The Wilder Life is a book of stories about these adventures, and unlike a lot of similarly structured books in which writers appear to be doing unusual things just to write books about them, McClure essentially uses the opportunity to write a series of thoughtful essays about memory at different levels. There's the tiny, very specific theme of her particular childhood love of the Little House books, but as she immerses herself in those memories, it pulls back to become a book about the way all of us relate to stories we hear as children, and about the way nostalgia operates unpredictably and sometimes painfully, and ultimately even about our false cultural memories of a romantic pioneer past that only sort of happened."
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Nov 09, 2013

How could you not want to go to a place that you remember but have never been?

Nov 09, 2013

When talking to friends about buying a [butter] churn, one must be careful when making hand gestures. Do not simulate holding the gesture in your hands and pumping it up and down, lest it appear you are talking about hand jobs.


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