The First Four Years  (Little House, #9)
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The First Four Years (Little House #9)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  19,379 ratings  ·  478 reviews
Laura Ingalls Wilder is beginning life with her new husband, Almanzo, in their own little house. Laura is a young pioneer wife now, and must work hard with Almanzo, farming the land around their home on the South Dakota prairie. Soon their baby daughter, Rose, is born, and the young family must face the hardships and triumphs encountered by so many American pioneers.
And s...more
Paperback, 126 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by HarperTrophy (first published October 1st 1953)
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Chris
Discovered in 1971 and posthumously tacked onto the previous eight volumes of the 'Little House' series, it's obvious from the first pages that something's a little amiss here. The tone is different, harder, more grown-up, with many details that ended 'These Happy Golden Years' changed here, and not for the better. After going off to live 'the life of a farmer's wife' in the previous book, the same scene is revisited, with Laura telling Manly (she calls Almanzo by his nickname throughout the boo...more
Melissa
Be warned! This book is very, very different from all the other books in the Little House on the Prairie series. In fact, this book makes it easy to see how embellished the other books are and the positive spin that was put on them. Because it was published after the death of Laura and her daughter, it is not quite complete as well. It was taken directly from Laura's notebooks that were found in her belongings after her death and barely any editing was done on them. That being said, this book is...more
Philip
Dad: How many stars?

Eleanor: Daddy? I'm afraid I'm going to have to give it four, because two bad things happened. ...Two really bad things, you know? ... ... You know? ...

Dad: What two bad things?

Eleanor: Well, (view spoiler)...more
Laurie
This book was, finally, refreshingly honest. I loved the previous 8 books, but was always a bit bothered at how Laura's true feelings were rarely described. Finally hearing about the boredom that Laura felt as a new mother, about how she didn't want Manly to be a farmer, and how she occasionally hated the stink of their farm stock was quite satisfying to me.

And, "Manly?" Two things about this nickname: first, have I been pronouncing his name incorrectly? Is it not "Ahl-MAHN-zoh?" Second, I wish...more
Tracy
I read this book when I was a child and was shocked and disappointed by it. The tone is very flat and Laura and Almanzo seem like different people. It seems more of an outline than a full-fledged Little House book. I almost didn't re-read it this time to finish out my re-reading of the entire series, but I decided to steel myself to the task, and I'm actually glad I did. I knew what I was getting into, so it wasn't so shocking and disappointing this time around.

This book begins by re-telling the...more
Meghan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amalie
This one is quite different from the earlier books it's more somber, a little heavier, and weighed with Laura and Manley's disapppointment over personal tradgedies (view spoiler)

I missed the cozy characters I met earlier and kind a missed all t...more
Amy
This was the "shit just got real" variation of the Little House series. I understand life was tough back then but this book was kind of jarring after all the pioneer whimsy of the other books. It was also awkward since it was just written out from a manuscript. It could definitely use a good edit.
It was interesting as well that Laura wrote herself as kind of a weaker person in this story. I know her daughter helped write the earlier books and the generation gap in the narrative voice really stuc...more
Kaycee Looney
The last book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and published long after her death.

The introduction tells us that this is a rough draft published as it was written by Laura in yellow notebooks. This is a more poignant period of Laura's life that tells of the tragedies and joys she and Almanzo faced during their first years of marriage.

Reading this again as an adult gave me a much clearer picture of how difficult life was in the late 19th century and how isolated many families in the west were.
Marcicle
This is the one book in the Little House series that I don't remember ever reading when I was younger. It is the final book in the series and was never properly completed. It was published after her death and was mostly in journals and the beginnings of a transcript. I loved it, it made me feel even closer tothe true person Laura Ingalls once was.
John
I started reading this series four years ago and now I am sad to be done. I loved them. I never read them as a kid and I wonder if they would have held my attention so much as an adult if I had. But I think so, I think I would have had the same level of awe and enjoyment even if they were more familiar.

Piling on to the sadness of completing the series is the sadness in this book. Wow. Laura and her family have faced hardships throughout the series, but none can stack up with what she and Manly...more
midnightfaerie
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder is an exquisite set of books that I cherished growing up. Read until they were dog-eared, this series has to be one of my childhood favorites. A story about a young girl growing up on the frontier, it was so popular they made it into a T.V. series even though the series didn't do it justice. Stories as a young girl I could relate to, the mean girl in town, fights with my sisters, and just the struggles of everyday life of any family. The love M...more
Heather
46 months - What a sad ending to the series. If you are looking for "Happily Ever After", then stop at "These Golden Happy Years". In fact this book probably should have been placed with the other later ones as a stand alone because it is written very differently, or at least was edited differently or not at all. It also recaps part of the book before from an adult and more personal perspective. I actually liked that because finally we could see that her and Almanzo actually had real conversatio...more
Heather
Nov 25, 2011 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Little House Fans
Recommended to Heather by: My Grandma
I hadn't read this in a long time and was a little shocked. The introduction mentioned that it had been found among Laura's belongings after her death and was not published until after Laura's daughter Rose had died. I didn't know this when I read the book as a child and simply accepted it as an automatic continuation of the other books in the series. In my own mind, I can see why The First Four Years was not published. Though very interesting and a short read, the book is not very happy. I feel...more
Jonathan
This book, published posthumously, has a very different feel than the others. It is as if (and maybe it is that) Wilder wrote down the biographical notes, then stopped working on the book before fictionalizing the story. The result is a book in a very different style than the previous ones, and with some details (such as Almonzo's age) not agreeing with previously written facts. This book is more biographical than the other books. It should be read as an unfinished work, and there are many thing...more
sabisteb
De Smet, South Dakota 1885-1889. Dieser letzte Band der Reihe erzählt in kurzen Episoden von den ersten vier Ehejahren von Laura Ingalls mit Almanzo Wilder. Von Missernten, der Geburt ihrer Tochter Rose und dem kurzen Leben ihres kleinen Sohnes.

Anders als bei den ersten Bänden handelt es sich nicht um einen fertigen Roman, sondern um ein Manuskript, in welchem die Handlung eher Grob in Einzelepisoden umrissen wird. Das Manuskript zu diesem Band fand sich unter den nachgelassenen Papieren der Toc...more
Beth Klingler
It's hard to know how to rate this book knowing its background and context. If it was unfinished and neither Laura nor her daughter wanted it published, and it remained unpublished until after their deaths I don't really feel it should've been included in a Little House box set. It doesn't mesh with the others.
Given how much following the various Ingalls-Wilder books have acquired I'm okay with the fact that it was finally published, but it should've been a stand alone with it's unfinished state...more
Meaghan
I remember reading this book when I was about eight, sprawled on the couch and not quite sure how to handle the death and destruction that Laura reveals so matter of factly.

Even now, as an adult, it's surprising to get this unsanitized version of Laura's life, and to read a very different version of Almanzo's proposal than was offered in These Happy Golden Years. I kind of liked it, though - it made Laura a fuller character. In THGY, all she says is that she doesn't want to get married and move...more
Tara Acton
I do not consider this really a part of the Little House series. Because it was just a draft found in LIW's notes after her death, it does not read the same as the previous books do. Plus, it seems to be the first chapter of a new series rather than a continuation of the Laura we know from the previous books.

The book's worst offense is that it actually begins before These Happy Golden Years ends, and rewrites history. There's a scene before they're married where Laura tells Almanzo (who is very...more
Kelly Hager
As the title would suggest, this details the first four years of Laura and Almanzo's marriage. They have two children (Rose, who lives, and a son, who doesn't) and basically have a ton of bad luck (a hailstorm ruins the crops one year, plus there's a fire...basically anything that can go wrong, does).

This is a lot less cheerful than the first eight books. Part of that may be that when she was younger, Laura was shielded from a lot of the reality of prairie life and it was sort of like, oh, isn't...more
Deann Doolittle
I was not as impressed with the last book in the series as I was with all the rest. I have never read this book before. I know it was found after Laura Ingalls Wilder had died and you can tell that it wasn't here that was actually doing the writing. It was nice to have the story come to a close by telling about her children. I did not realize she had a son as well.

I am glad that I took the time to re-read these books. I still think these stories should be mandatory reading for the intermediate g...more
Catherine
Jarring is the best word I can think of for this book, hardly the "happily ever after" you'd expect after reading These Happy Golden Years. It's pretty painful--a baby born maybe a bit too soon to unprepared parents, a traumatic, unconscious childbirth, postpartum alienation (where are Ma and her sisters who supposedly live just a few miles away?), financial ruin, another baby who nobody seems too excited about and then who dies before he even gets named, and it just gets worse from there. Since...more
Maggie
The Little House books were the first thing I ever bought when I found out I was having a baby. I first read them to my daughter when she was far too young to understand them. When she old enough to read them for herself, I held this one back. I have heard rumors that it was unfinished or written by someone else. All I know is that it doesn't fit with the rest of the series. It's as if the main characters I loved so much suddenly loose their pioneering spirit. They stop working hard and start sp...more
Maria M. Elmvang
A 2.5 star review.

By far the weakest of all Laura books, and a book that leads credence to the theory that Rose Wilder edited all of Laura's other books, because the writing style is so vastly different from the rest of the series.

I enjoyed learning what happened after Laura and Almanzo got married, but was sad to see that they started out their marriage with such hardship! Every year just seemed to be worse than the one preceding it. Whereas the rest of the series are lovely comfort books, this...more
Lora
This book feels different, and comes with a brief explanation at the beginning as to why. This is an unfinished manuscript found after Laura had died. The publishers decided to just leave well enough alone and publish as is- and for that I thank them.
Laura and her husband have serious struggles. This isn't childhood at the feet of settled parents who have their livelihood in tight hand. It's a changing world and Laura is the adult now. Over all the book was less intimate, a bit distant. I could...more
Amanda
I read this many years ago, but enjoyed reading it again as Laura Ingalls Wilder has a way of story telling that draws you in and invites you to stay for a while. This book was published in its "rough cut" form since she died without ever fleshing it out for publication, but it was still enjoyable. Her light humorous touches in this retelling of her first years of marriage brought back memories of my own early married life.
Kate
Compared to the other Little House books published before Laura Wilder's death, this one published in the late sixties is brutal and distressing. I found it hard to deal with quite how awful life was for the Wilder family after Laura and Almanzo's marriage. They had more grief in the first four years of their marriage than most people have in a lifetime. Such a depressing end to a magical series.
Anjali Williams
As to be expected, this book has always been my least favorite in the series: it is less polished, less heartwarming... less of a children's novel. But this time around, I felt differently, and I'm not sure why. It might have been the experience of reading it to my daughter for the first time: it was refreshing to offer her a unsentimental glimpse of "happily ever after," which to me, does seem happy, despite all the difficulties and heartache of their first 4 years. Not that the Little House se...more
Mimi
As a kid, I don't think I noted that this book was unfinished and unpolished - basically a printing of her notes for the story. I strongly remembered the incidents and liked the way that she framed it around their anniversary - the way she repeated hearkened back to the Creation account in Genesis.
Sweet story, but the notebook aspect struck me this reading.
Amy
I read several reviews for this book and it was critiqued pretty harshly. People said the writing was poor and not at all like the rest of the idyllic Little House series. I, however, liked it—a lot.

First of all they’re right, it is not a literary work of art. It was actually published from four notebooks, a handwritten rough draft, found after Laura’s death. But, what resonated with me was a feeling of authenticity. The other book I've read, Little House in the Big Woods, was wonderful, but fel...more
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Ingalls wrote a series of historical fiction books for children based on her childhood growing up in a pioneer family. She also wrote a regular newspaper column and kept a diary as an adult moving from South Dakota to Missouri, the latter of which has been published as a book.
More about Laura Ingalls Wilder...
Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #2) The Little House Collection (Little House, #1-9) Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1) On the Banks of Plum Creek  (Little House, #4) Little Town on the Prairie  (Little House, #7)

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“The incurable optimism of the farmer who throws his seed on the ground every spring, betting it and his time against the elements, seemed inextricably to blend with the creed of her pioneer forefathers that "it is better farther on"-- only instead of farther on in space, it was farther on in time, over the horizon of the years ahead instead of the far horizon of the west.” 18 likes
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