Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Wilder Rose

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert
Persevero Press; 9/1/2013
Trade Paperback, 302 pages
ISBN-13: 9780989203500


In 1928, Rose Wilder Lane-world traveler, journalist, highly-paid magazine writer-returned from an Albanian sojourn to her parents' Ozark farm. Almanzo Wilder was 71 and Laura 61, and Rose felt obligated to stay and help. Then came the Crash. Rose's investments vanished and the magazine market dried up. That's when Laura wrote "Pioneer Girl," her story of growing up in the Big
Woods of Wisconsin, on the Kansas prairie, and by the shores of Silver Lake.The rest is literary history. But it isn't the history we thought we knew.
Based on the unpublished diaries of Rose Wilder Lane and other documentary evidence, A Wilder Rose tells the surprising true story of the often strained collaboration that produced the Little House books-a collaboration that Rose and her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, concealed from their agent, editors, reviewers, and readers. Acclaimed author Susan Wittig Albert follows the clues that take us straight to the heart of this fascinating literary mystery.
My Thoughts:

In A Wilder Rose author Susan Wittig Albert presents a fictionalized account of the life of Rose Wilder Lane from 1928-1939. It is no surprise to many people that Rose, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was a co-author to the Little House books and the actual talent that made them publishable. This novel is based on diaries, journals and letters. The characters are based on real people, from real information they left behind, but it is a novel.

This was an interesting, turbulent time in the U.S.  and Susan Wittig Albert includes many historically accurate details and information about the time and place that set the tone for what is going on in Rose's life. Adding to the historical facts are the details she gleams from her research into the lives of these very interesting authors, a mother and daughter with a complicated and uneasy relationship. It also includes many of Rose's friends from this period of time.

A Wilder Rose is well-researched enough that I question the decision to fictionalize the story rather than present the information and research in a nonfiction account. Perhaps in this form it is more accessible to more readers, but for me it's always interesting to see the actual information, the research. While the time and place were well set, and a good job was done in developing characterization, sometimes the choice to present the material in a fictionalized manner began to feel like a laundry list of activities to me. Additionally I'm not sure it was beneficial to have Laura's passive/aggressive attitude mentioned repeatedly. Mothers and daughters often have complex relationships and mothers can often be controlling toward their daughters. It's almost a given that deserved to be mentioned but didn't need the repetition.

Admittedly I'm likely one of the few people around who never had a huge love for the Little House series of books (or the TV show) and I easily accepted the early scholarly works that pointed to the books actually being likely written, or certainly put in publishable form, by Rose, who was a successful writer. I would most certainly recommend this, highly for fans of the books and those who enjoy historical fiction.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of the author via Netgalley for review purposes.

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