Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: CAROLINE: LITTLE HOUSE, REVISITED by SARAH MILLER


CAROLINE, LITTLE HOUSE, REVISITED – Sarah Miller
William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0-06-268535-3
July 2018
Historical Fiction

Wisconsin and Kansas – 1870

Many of us grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books and were fascinated by the pioneering times. Author Sarah Miller has gone the extra mile and written a lovely book about Laura’s mother, Caroline.

The Ingalls are moving from their Big Woods cabin in Wisconsin to the Indian Territory of Kansas, where land is cheap, and the future bright (except for the Native Americans who are being forced to leave their homes and move to Oklahoma). Charles is determined to stake a large claim, build a house, and farm the land. He has sold his house in Wisconsin to another family, who have promised to send them the mortgage money, and he and Caroline have packed everything they own into a wagon, heading south in the dead of winter with their two young daughters. Just before they leave, Caroline reveals to Charles that she is pregnant.

Traveling through unmarked territory and in frigid temperatures isn’t easy for any of the Ingalls, but Caroline tries her best to keep things as normal as possible for her children. Mary is the timid one, fearful of many things, while Laura is her father’s daughter, adventurous and curious. Caroline hides her fears, but inwardly worries about when the baby within her will move, how she can prepare hot meals for her family, what will they do for food if they can’t find provisions, and many other things. She knows Charles is vaguely aware of her concerns, but his attitude seems to be that they will make do somehow. Caroline likes to be more prepared than that.

Even though they settle in Kansas, there is no guarantee that they can stay on the land yet. That doesn’t seem to bother Charles who immediately begins building a cabin (with the help of a neighboring bachelor, Mr. Edwards). There are still Indians in the area, and they terrify Caroline. Yet she works hard to show a brave face to her daughters, and to make their small, ruggedly snug cabin a home. Readers are aware all along that Caroline is the real backbone of this family. Her quiet strength, her determination to keep their lives as normal as possible, and her inner thoughts that she, alone, shoulders a lot and has little time to herself become the reality of Caroline Ingalls.

The author has taken some of Laura’s books and well researched history to present this lovingly written tale to readers. We must remember that Laura wrote her books as an adult, so some details may have been skewed by her memory, so the author has “fixed” some of the historical details for those who have read the Little House books. The Little House Heritage Trust has authorized CAROLINE.

Jani Brooks


Purchase a copy from Amazon: Link to book


Blurb:

In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.
In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.
The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

About the author:

Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as "a historical version of Law & Order." She lives in Michigan.

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