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The First Four Years (Little House #9)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  22,438 ratings  ·  545 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
Paperback, 126 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by HarperTrophy (first published October 1st 1953)
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Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls WilderAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryLittle Women by Louisa May AlcottThe Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George SpeareThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Best Children's Historical Fiction
67th out of 525 books — 599 voters
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsWatership Down by Richard AdamsThe Stand by Stephen KingInterview with the Vampire by Anne RiceThe Princess Bride by William Goldman
Best Books of the Decade: 1970's
121st out of 949 books — 911 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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)
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
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
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
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
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.
So it was okay. Definitely not up to par with the other books. But I'm not complaining because the prologue said it was the first draft, and it was waaaay better than any first draft of mine! But it was sad and sort of depressing. I did like how she threw in happy things like Peter and Rose and the pantry! I felt soooo bad for them! And then the end!!!! But she did end it on a positive note, so that was nice. I probably won't read this again. Ever. I like the other ones too much to let this one ...more
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
After finishing "These Happy Golden Years" with the optimistic, happy outlook on the next stage of life, this book was terribly sad. I can see why Laura may have given up on finishing it. The only bright spot was the birth of Rose.

It's still a powerful story that shows perseverance, patience, and promise.
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 the words I was speaking. When she was 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 w ...more
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
Maria 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
Brandy Wilcox
I developed a love of reading through this series. I never read the last book in the series until now. It is based on a true story. The “First Four Years” is about a married couple by the names of Almanzo Wilder and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Their hardships through the years are costly such as the loss of their son, harsh winters, storms, and prairie fires. There are joyous times as well, such as having a precious daughter by the name of Rose. This story is written differently than all the other boo ...more
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ack, you guys, remember when I was constantly worrying about the Ingalls family because of the crazy situations they were always getting into (grasshoppers, blizzards, nearly starving, you know, the usual)? It continues in The First Four Years. Ugh, I went from being so happy and secure and sure of a good future for Laura and Almanzo to being concerned again. I guess the book was more real in that way, but oh, what a harsh reality it was. Losing a baby, worrying about debts (will this farming li ...more
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
After reading Pioneer Girl, I had to read this again. It's also Laura's first years as an independent adult, so I thought it would be fun to compare ...

Wow, this is one depressing book. All through the Little House series, everything is always going to be alright as long as Pa is there and the family is together. Even when the family runs into hard times at Plum Creek, (the grasshoppers eat everything so the family can't pay for the new house, they can't afford to buy Christmas presents or even
Although it's lovely to have a glimpse into the early years of Laura's married life, this isn't quite the same as the earlier books - you can tell it was Laura's first draft.

It is also a heartbreaking book. The earlier Little House books are at times challenging and tough, but the family fought through. The challenges here for the newly-married Laura and Almanzo are relentless, with very little respite after those first early months. I think, judging by Pioneer Girl, if Laura had revised this bo
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Little House (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1)
  • Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #2)
  • Farmer Boy (Little House, #3)
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek  (Little House, #4)
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake  (Little House, #5)
  • The Long Winter (Little House, #6)
  • Little Town on the Prairie  (Little House, #7)
  • These Happy Golden Years (Little House, #8)
  • On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894  (Little House #10)
  • West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915  (Little House #11)
Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #2) Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1) The Little House Collection (Little House, #1-9) 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.” 20 likes
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