John's Reviews > These Happy Golden Years

These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
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's review
Mar 11, 12

Recommended for: Cole & Reese
Read in March, 2012

I think this might be my favorite of the series. It is very distinct from the previous books. The earlier books focused on a much smaller set of time, usually about a year, while this book spanned 3 years. In earlier books there were many details about the settler life which always intrigued me. How to make brown sugar, how to build a sod home, how to turn prairie into farm land, how to build a whatnot, and so on. In this book these details are mostly missing. Instead Laura reveals a little more of herself as she grows older.

The book has a rather somber tone for being about happy and golden times. Laura is conflicted between doing her duty (staying with the Brewsters, getting married) and keeping her freedom. Frequently in the book she mentions how she wants to teach school for years and not get married…..but then she give up school teaching and marries Almanzo. I don’t doubt her love of Almanzo, but I sense that is very conflicted. In all the previous books she has been a free spirit, doing what she wanted. Her strong will got her into a little trouble, but more often was a good thing in getting out of jams. Now I sense the conflict that Laura must have felt giving up her freedom to get married. I was glad she included the section about taking out the word “obey” in the vows.

I wonder what Ma thought of Almanzo. She seems to not be 100% behind him. She makes a couple remarks though the book about how good it is to have fun memories as a young adult. The implication is that that Laura (& Mary) should have something to look back on before being a wife and mother consumes them. Did Ma lament marrying young? Did she doubt Almazo as a husband? From his introduction Laura paints him as a responsible young man and hero, but maybe Ma saw him with other eyes.

I found the sexual tension in the book very interesting. It is hidden and repressed, (like the times the book described) but clearly there. The sled that Almanzo built was tiny. There is no way they were not pressed up against each other and those long rides, but Laura writes the passages like they were in opposite sides of an Escalade. There is so much mentioned about the horses being wild and needing to be broken, Laura again and again comes back to the rambunctious horses. I am sure they were wild, but it seems very symbolic of her own emotions and hormones.

A few other snippets: If I lived in a two room shanty all winter, I think I would be as depressed as Mrs. Brewster. Also I like that Laura was a conservationist. She talks about all the wild animals that had already been driven out when man came, and how sad it is that they all had were gone. One of my favorite lines was about how “crowded” the area was already getting. “This country is settling up fast, we have driven only 40 miles and we must have seen as many as six houses.” What would Laura think of America today?

There is one more book in the series. It is sad for me to think I am almost done with them. Laura is a very engaging character and I will hate to be done with her.

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