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The First Four Years

(Little House #9)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  32,434 ratings  ·  926 reviews
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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
Paperback, 134 pages
Published October 14th 1971 by Harper Trophy (first published February 1st 1971)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,434 ratings  ·  926 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Bit of a lackluster end to one of my fave series

This is an unfinished manuscript. Laura Ingalls Wilder intended to write a full novel on her early years married to Almanzo Wilder but she passed prior to finishing the book.

Roger Lea MacBride ("adopted" grandson of Rose, Laura's daughter) found this manuscript after posthumously rummaging through Rose's things and decided to publish this anyway.

I don't wish it would've gone unpublished but at the same time, it's just not as good as the previous
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hope that more recently-published editions have fixed the error on page 70 of my Harper & Row copy: Laura powers through labor by remembering one of the hymns Pa used to sing, but it's "Angel Band", NOT "Angel Bank"! Thank you, The Monkees' version of "Angel Bank" at YouTube, with Michael Nesmith on lead!
The book itself feels slightly different from the other books (although it recaps the very last part of THESE HAPPY GOLDEN YEARS, as Laura marries Almanzo Wilder and they move into their
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wendy-books
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)
This book reads differently than the previous Little House books. It tells the story of the first few years of Almanzo and Laura's marriage, and how they struggled to make a living on the plains.

In the introduction, Roger Lea MacBride (who wrote the series that follows the adventures of Rose, Laura's daughter) says that this handwritten manuscript was found among Laura's papers, and that it wasn't revised and edited the way the earlier books were, perhaps because Laura lost interest after Alman
Sep 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, historical
Does anything ever grow on this prairie? It's one thing after another - blizzards, tornadoes, heat, prairie fires, hail. Any thing kills the crops.

The most depressing installment of all. Laura seems to only take pleasure in running outside, riding horses and sometimes her daughter. Definitely NOT any kind of housework.

But I think I will end up reading everything Laura Ingalls Wilder has ever written.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Beth Bonini
As the Introduction tells us, Laura Ingalls Wilder left a first draft to this book and it was only published after her death. In many ways, it reads like a first draft: it has the feeling of a rough outline of events. It is more developed than diary shorthand, but not as crafted as most of the "Little House" stories. I remember reading it as a child, and then again as a young woman; what I didn't quite remember is how sadness it contains. This book is about, as the title implies, the first four ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, all 9 are finished. And what a ride through droughts, blizzards, a lot of baked beans and salt pork, failing wheat crops, twelve different types of buggies, hay stacks galore, and mean, terrible Nellie Olson.

Immensely satisfied with the series with some obvious lowpoints surrounding the treatment of Native Americans, and my god, the songs about "darkies" were just horrific.

Also a lowpoint? Jesus fucking balls, Pa certainly did not give one shit about Ma. He drug her all over creation jus
I grew up on the Little House books and had no idea that this story of Laura and Almanzo's first years of marriage even existed. Grittier than the earlier books and sometimes quite scary--that blizzard! My edition has excellent illustrations by Garth Williams.
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Great Book Study
My third read. A short, bitter, though optimistic ending to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series.
My review:
Karen Kay
I Loved reading this series!
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
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
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short book is actually a draft that was discovered posthumously. I expect the plan was to go back and flesh it out. As it stands, it’s a bare-bones account of the most prominent memories of the beginning of the Wilders’ marriage. I still have only read the first five Little House books, and that was years and years ago, so I don’t remember the style of those books very well. I expect this one will be quite different in contrast.

I heard a long time ago that Laura hated dwelling on negative e
Shannon Dunn
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The two words that come to mind as I reflect upon this final book of the Little House Series are perseverance and, of course, grace. For after all the hardships of those first four years of life together, it was the enabling grace of God that gave them the spirit to happily keep pressing on. And after reading this for what is at least the second, but perhaps the third (maybe even fourth) time, I am once again reminded of why Laura is such a hero of mine.
Jenny Leiva
Before I read this book, I read that it was a first draft found after Laura Ingalls Wilder’s death and was published as found. I didn’t have very high expectations but was pleasantly surprised. It’s true that it doesn’t feel as put-together as the other books, but it was still an enjoyable read and nice to see what happened with Laura and Almanzo after they were married. (However, I did not like that Almanzo was called Mani the whole book!) It would have been nice if the book had ended on a happ ...more
Jan 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-have
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 lost their pioneering spirit. They stop wo ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, america, kids
This was apparently published posthumously and unfinished - it’s so much better than the rest of the series as an adult reader. It’s as if it didn’t have time to have all the hard bits hidden or made to sound cheerful. It’s a brutal four years of the beginning of their marriage. Farming is hard and they never catch a break. They are in debt. Their son dies. Laura accidentally burns the house down.

This is by far the most real feeling of the series and feels like a great bridge into Prairie Fires
Laura's second baby was born and died within a page and when I finished the book, I had to go back and reread to make sure I had indeed read he'd died.

I know this is a fragment of a book and without any editing or depth to it, but again, we got a whole damn book about a single winter and the death of a child got...a page.

Anyway, good to know the men were all kind of dumb and hopeless. I thought Almanzo (surprisingly only referred to as Manly in this book and literally never called that elsewhe
Kaycee Looney
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stephanie Ricker
At last, my husband and I have finished reading all of the Little House books aloud to each other. Unlike all of the other books, I'm not shelving this under Children--this book clearly wasn't meant for kids. To be fair, it wasn't really meant for anyone; Laura wrote it out but never published it, nor did her daughter. The first four years of Laura's married life were so miserable, I can fully understand why neither Wilder woman wanted to polish the story up for a child-friendly audience. Making ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Whenever I think about how much I didn't care for this book compared to the rest of the series, I have to remind myself that it's unedited and unfinished. Laura died before she finished this book and her daughter Rose had it published as was when it was found. This book covers her first several years of marriage to Almanzo (nicknamed Manly in the book). Even if Laura was alive to finish the book, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it much better. To me, Little House was about the Ingalls family a ...more
In a way, it hurts me that I feel compelled to give it only 3 stars but this one was from a handwritten manuscript and definitely should have been revised and edited, like previous parts. (I know that it wasn't possible, it was found after Laura Ingalls Wilder death.)

Nonetheless, the stories were interesting (harsh and charming - like always) and I was happy to meet Laura and Almanzo again.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sad to be done with this beloved series. This last book really shows the reality of day to day living in these times. Ma was a hell of a woman.
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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.

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 (Laura Years, #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)
“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.” 29 likes
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