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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  6,293 ratings  ·  1,372 reviews
For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession.

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Riverhead (first published April 1st 2011)
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This was a book clearly destined to be picked up by me, because I too consider myself one of the "Laura" tribe. I loved the LHotP books growing up, and watched the TV show every week. Even today, I still do a re-read at Christmastime of all the Christmas chapters in every book (tin cup, candy stick and a penny anyone?). I try to re-read my favorite: The Long Winter every 2 or 3 years to remind myself that my life isn't so hard after all (and even if it was, my Christmas turkey will still surely ...more
The author claims to be a huge, obsessed Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW) fan, I claim that I make, too. Because of her claim, I thought that I would really enjoy reading this book. How wrong I was.

In the beginning of the book, the author comes off as rather stupid to me. Her constant shocking revelations about what happened and, more importantly, what didn't happen, were old news and made her seem like a newbie LIW researcher. When she finally got past the "I can't believe it didn't happen exactly ho
The thing about a book like this - a book about a journey through some topic or other where the author's presence is overt - is that the author has to be likeable. Otherwise, it's like being stuck with a tour guide whose voice is kind of annoying and half the things she says aren't interesting and maybe she's a low-talker sometimes and at the end of the tour you're just glad to be DONE.

Unfortunately, that's how this book was for me. From almost the very beginning, it was the weirdest thing: I di
I'm having a hard time knowing how many stars this one deserves. It's in part a book about the relationship she feels various people have with the Little House books as a type of social phenomenon, part description of places you can go visit if you're interested in visiting Little House related sites, and part Wendy McClure's boring too-old-for-a-quarter-life-crisis-but-too-young-for-a-midlife-crisis crisis.

When she gets out of the way and talks about book Laura versus real Laura or the various
Omigod I'm old. And a geek. And this book fit very well with these two personal revelations. The author, a child of the seventies (like me!) was obsessed with the Little House series when she was younger. A personal tragedy starts her on a journey to find more about the series, and the real Wilder family. Doing this project in 2007 means she has access to that wonderful and terrible tool of the Internet. Soon she is traveling throughout the Midwest geeking out over objects from the past (learn t ...more
Jessica Knauss
I won an ARC of this book. Hooray!

Although I've gone on to do a lot more reading, I've always carried a little of Laura with me, in ways I never considered before I read The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure.

The book is a memoir of McClure's rediscovery of the series as an adult after a personal tragedy. She gets a obsessed with trying to somehow recapture that long-ago life in some way, any way she can. In the process she goes on an epic journey, always learning and developing insights along the wa
Though I love @halfpintingalls and had a couple of nice virtual interactions with the author while she was working on the book, I put off reading this after some middling reviews from friends and acquaintances. I get how this is not for everyone, and most of the really negative reviews are from people who got the book expecting it to be something else and can't get over that it isn't the book they wanted to read. (Some people think it's for the Little House fanatic; others think it's for those w ...more
I love this book! I can so relate to so many of the authors thoughts, especially about relating Little House stories to my "real" life. I have my Little House Colorform set to prove my love. My sis and I were Mary and Laura for Halloween one year.

Unexpectedly, this book makes me very lonely for my mom. She read the series aloud to me as a child and I heard her reread it over the years to my siblings. I didn't commit the date of her death to my memory and I don't think about her on Mother's Day (
I agree with the other reviewer who called this an "odd duck of a book." From the start, I couldn't tell where it was going and still haven't figured it out. There were the expected introductory descriptions of the author's childhood love of the Little House books, her ability as an adult to retrace the exact steps to the exact shelf in the public library where the books were, the imaginary conversations she had as a child showing her friend Laura around in modern times, all of which were endear ...more
I was curious if this book would be interesting for those, like me, who have never read the Little House books. I attempted them both as a child and as an adult and never was able to make much progress before giving up. Maybe I don't find the romance in a family's continual hardships and dragging young children from place to place over and over. Having close family who grew up poor, with hand-me-down clothes, not enough to eat, getting nothing but an orange for Christmas, complete with using an ...more
When I was in third grade I borrowed a copy of Little House in the Big Woods at the school library. By some strange coincidence that same day my Mom had borrowed a copy of Little House on the Prairie for me at the county library. I was so surprised. I read both books quickly and became obsessed with the series and the idea of living the pioneer life. I wanted to grow my hair longer and wear long skirts and dresses just like Laura and her sisters. I would imagine riding a horse or driving a wagon ...more
What I wanted from this book is not quite what I got, or what I was even expecting. I wanted McClure to throw herself into Laura Land (her words) as A.J. Jacobs did when he choose to immerse himself in the Bible for a who year and live by it, just to see what it was like. Instead, McClure just stands in Plum Creek for a few minutes and then moves on (and I mean that literally and figuritively).

At first, McClure *seems* like she is one of THOSE PEOPLE- people who are irrationally and irrevocably
What is that lost place Americans began to yearn for in the 1970s as we stumbled into the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era? For many, The Little House on the Prairie--both the series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the television show based upon the books--represented a simpler and therefore more desirable past. Wendy McClure explores the meaning of this cultural phenomenon by retracing the history of the books and the towns that inspired them. With her good-natured husband along for the ad ...more
When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a copy of Little House in the Big Woods. I read it and fell in love with it, with Laura and the Ingalls family and their pioneer life. Mom then showed me a treasure - she had bought all of the books in the series (through These Happy Golden Years) for me and I could read them all right then. I tore through the rest of the books. I still have them - the covers have fallen off of most of them yet they have survived every time I have culled my book collec ...more
Kendra Arnold
This book was awesome! I was totally obsessed with Little House books and the show growing up, and always wanted to do a tour of Little House sites. Thankfully, Wendy did it for me! I still would do it tho.

Her attempts at churning butter with a churn she bought of ebay were inspiring, and I was surprised to hear that survivalists are sort of obsessed with Little House too. I can't wait to track down all the little house books she mentioned and read more about Rose, Laura's daughter. If I thought
So yeah, I loved the Little House books as a kid. I wanted to be Laura SO BAD. She had sisters! And her family sang and danced to Pa's fiddle! And they played in the creeks! And walked miles to school! And had adventures! And moved to new places! And everything always turned out for the best!

Yup, suburban hell me was jealous--subruban hell me who lived in one house, had short hair because it was easier for mom, who walked a block to school, and who's dad might not have even danced at his own wed
McClure set out to find the world and mythology of Laura Ingalls Wilder's successful novels. She goes to Little House pageants, home sites and museums. She churns butter, twists hay, sleeps in a faux covered wagon while separating fact from fiction and books from tv series. There are sunbonnets, wheat fields and replica log cabins. Along the way, McClure makes some sense of pieces of her own girlhood.

McClure muses over the Homestead Act, through which Indian land was deeded to white people. McCl
For me, there was a problem of expectation. Everything I'd read about this book talked about Wendy McClure's HI-larious experiences doing the things Laura and her family did in the Little House books. Yes, she grinds wheat to make bread and, yes, she buys a butter churn on ebay and makes butter. At one of the home sites, she half-heartedly twists ONE haystick. That's it folks! It's actually more of a travelogue as Wendy and her saint of a boyfriend (he puts up with a lot of crazy!) and various o ...more
Oct 15, 2011 Relyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Laura fans
Recommended to Relyn by: spotted at Barnes and Noble
I was delighted to discover this book. A girl who loves Laura is a girl after my own heart. I was hooked when I read this,
"...well, you know what I really liked? I liked books with pictures of toast in them. Well, not just toast, you know, cups and ladles and baskets and hats, lovingly rendered in all their places in a room or even just little vignettes, but at any rate things in all their thinginess.

I pored over pages of Richard Scarry's Dictionary of Something-Or-Other, looking at all the lit
Enjoyed reading about this young woman's "Laura" obsession, as it is one I shared as a child. Read and re-read every book in the series, but refused to watch the TV show as I knew it could never measure up!
This book will have huge appeal to a specific audience: women whose childhood infatuation with the Little House on the Prairie books never quite went away. The author keeps a sense of humor about her obsession, while providing thoughtful research and analysis of the fictional books v the reality. A few uneasy reactions I had upon re-reading the books as an adult were mentioned: for example, there is some rather overt racism at times; Pa’s urge to move was not always entirely due to a desire for ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed it, but I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't already such a LIW fan? McClure rediscovers Wilder when she is past her childhood. What about those of us who never lost her? I received Little House on the Prairie in 1977 and reread the series every couple of years. I watched the tv show, but saw it as something completely separate from the books. I already knew a lot about the family history and know some of the quoted authors through ...more
The Library Lady
At the end of this book a friend of McClure's notes to her that this journey into Wilder World is about her, and so is this self-indulgent

If you have read the Wilder books and most of the Wilder bios (and I read The First Four Years back when it was first published, so you can tell I've been reading them for decades!) there is little here that's new, aside from a snarky guided tour to the sites that will probably depress you. And she kind of snickers at Search For Laura Ingalls Wilder (and
I liked the idea of this book better than I ultimately liked the book itself. (Though I did like the book okay--enough to give it 3 stars.) A few notes:

1. I read the first few pages standing up, I was so enthralled. Couldn't put it down. I think this is because I finally found someone (and it turns out there are a lot of us) who was as fond of Laura World as I was. McClure brought back a lot of my own memories of first reading the books and the pleasure I have always derived from re-reading them
My daughter is a true Little House fan. She grew up reading the books, had her own Little House club, and spent most of her 8th year in a prairie dress of some kind. So, when we saw this book she wanted to read it immediately. Unfortunately for her she just started school for the fall and adding another book to her reading list wasn't going to happen. So, I read it.

I am also a Wilder fan - who do you think got our daughter hooked on the Prairie books in the first place. My brother, for some reas
Luanne Ollivier
Subtitled: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.

When I saw The Wilder Life, I just knew I had to read it. I used to bicycle down to the Byron Library once a week and pester Miss Spicer for her next book recommendation. I had finished all of The Borrowers (I really wanted to live in their little mouse world) when she recommended Little House in the Big Woods. Well, I fell in love with this series and the whole kit and caboodle. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. So did Wendy
Sario Lawrence
A book about books that I loved as a child is destined to be a winner for me! Wendy McClure seemed to have enjoyed the Little House books as much as I did, even going so far as to read Laura's other unpopular journals (On the Way Home and West From Home). As an adult, revisiting the appeal of these books and searching for the Real Laura Experience, Wendy dives deep into Little House culture. She visits all the homesteads, discovers the 70's Japanese Anime Little House series (Laura, the Prairie ...more
Any Little House on the Prairie fan is going to LOVE reading this book! I'm so excited that I get to giveaway a copy of this book!

The Wilder Life one of those books you take to bed, read all night, and makes you laugh and cry. When you wake up the next morning, you don’t even mind how exhausted you are, because the book you read was a book well worth reading. Wendy McClure has written a book so instantly beloved by me, she’s made her way into my heart and made herself my new author B.F.F. She ha
I could see Laura Ingalls Wilder everywhere. Really she was everywhere. She was no longer just a person but a universe made of hundreds of little bits, a historical fictional literary figure character person idea grandma-girl-thing.

My only encounters with Little House on the Prairie are the reruns I occasionally watch, this website (Psyched on the Prairie, I'm too lazy to re-embed it right now), which is excellent, and reading the awesome Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. Sadly, I never read a sin
I didn't even finish this book; it bored me too much. This book was poorly organized and simply not interesting enough. For example, one chapter could start out with the author's trip to a Little House landmark and then she would go into talking about the TV show which would lead into talking about a movie made in 2005. I also thought there would be more trying to integrate more "Laura World" into modern day life a la Julie and Julia (like trying quilting and talking about the experience for ins ...more
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Book Giveaways: The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure 1 11 Dec 02, 2011 07:00AM  
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Country: The People and Places in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Life and books
  • My Life as Laura: How I Searched for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Found Myself
  • Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading
  • A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Journeys Across America
  • Book Lust To Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers
  • The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
  • Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated
  • This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone
  • My Own Two Feet
  • How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books
  • One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding
  • Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
  • The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic
  • All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane
  • Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • A Family of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature
Wendy McClure is an author and a children’s book editor.
More about Wendy McClure...
I'm Not the New Me The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan: Classic Diet Recipe Cards from the 1970s Wanderville Don't Trade the Baby for a Horse: And Other Ways to Make Your Life a Little More Laura Ingalls Wilder The Princess and the Peanut Allergy

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“Sometimes, Laura World wasn't a realm of log cabins or prairies, it was a way of being. Really, a way of being happy. I wasn't into the flowery sayings, but I was nonetheless in love with the idea of serene rooms full of endless quiet and time, of sky in the windows, of a life comfortably cluttered and yet in some kind of perfect feng shui equilibrium, where all the days were capacious enough to bake bread and write novels and perambulate the wooded hills deep in thought (though truthfully, I'd allow for the occasional Rose-style cocktail party as well).” 5 likes
“It didn't feel like the last night of anything anymore, just that the world went on and would follow us home” 3 likes
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