Chris's Reviews > The First Four Years (Little House, #9)

The First Four Years (Little House, #9) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
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it was ok
bookshelves: 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 book) that he should work in a shop, and that she has no interest in being a farmer's wife. Jarring! But probably closer to the truth, too.

The lack of finesse added to other books by Laura's daughter Rose is noticeably absent here. Also, considering that the manuscript was found after her death, there's a good chance that it was unfinished, and might have been fleshed out at a later date.

It's interesting to see just how much hardship the couple endured in their four years of attempting to settle a land claim with the government. At the same time, the atrocities pile up so quickly, it's hard not to be come desensitized to them after a while. When the last ten pages is given over to 1) typhoon, 2) temporary blindless, 3) bankruptcy, 4) a fire that wipes out the family house and nearly kills Laura and Rose, it almost turns into some sort of black comedy, where the protagonist puts his foot in a bucket, falls off a cliff, and inadvertently starts World War III.

Of course, it wasn't a comedy, and as far as I know, these things actually happened, making it more depressing.

If you're following this saga 'all the way to the bitter end,' you'll probably want to read this. If you just want to enjoy the fairy-tale tone and ambiance of the previous books, I beg of you to stop with 'These Happy Golden Years' and protect your innocence. Since my girlfriend is writing a book about LIW, you can imagine that I'll riding this runaway train to the end of the line, but that doesn't mean you have to!
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
October 10, 2009 – Shelved
June 13, 2013 – Shelved as: wendy-books

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Larchip Christopher said it better than I could but yes I had all the same feelings - if you want to know it all read The first four years but if you want the fairy tale we are grew up with then stop for goodness sakes at These happy golden years!!!!


Martha What's the name of the book your girlfriend is writing? Is it out yet? Keep us posted!


Chris Martha wrote: "What's the name of the book your girlfriend is writing? Is it out yet? Keep us posted!"

Hi Martha,

Thanks for the note! Lots has changed since this review...my girlfriend is now my wife, and she (Wendy McClure) has published "The Wilder Life: My Adventures In the Lost World of Little House On the Prairie." Available now wherever paperbacks are sold! :-)


Martha Congratulations! (On both the wedding and the book.) I'll definitely look for it -- just the title sounds intriguing. I'll go Google it right now.


Olivia Totally agree with this review a hundred and ten percent. I grew-up on the wonder of this series which led me in an indepth self provoked study of this ara and the people in it. When I read this book at about 12 I was soooooo disappointed! While the tragedy of it is true and it stayed with Laura till the end, it lacked the kind gentleness the other eight books possessed.


wanderer What a great review! I well remember my bitter disappointment over this book. And by the way, I've had your wife's book on my to-read list for a while.


message 7: by Bitchie (new)

Bitchie I read the series, up to Happy Golden Years, many many times growing up. It wasn't until a few years ago that I tried to read The First Four Years. Laura's voice was so very different than what I was used to! I read a few pages and stopped there, because I didn't want to taint my memories of my very favorite childhood series. Thanks to reviews like your, I know I made the right call.


Timothy  Pettit I to like Lara childhood voice also I also watch the episodes of Lara It was called Little house on the prairie..
. It looked like it was a good/fun/hard life…


Shelby Bender this book is awesome how could you only give it two stars!!!???


message 10: by Alys (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alys Marchand This book is basically Laura's adult memories put on the page. It shouldn't be judged as a complete book against its predecessors. I doubt her initial writing-down of Prairie was so childlike and innocent when the Indians (using the book term) went by the homestead, and I doubt Pa was so nonchalant reporting how they narrowly escaped being killed. Winter has them nearly starving to death, and in real life there were permanent effects on the health of a couple of her sisters. While the finished book portrayed it as a bummer of an adventure, her initial write-down was more than the harsh reality. Writing down what happened from her adult perspective, and then going through and turning that into a story book, and then editing it for child-friendly appropriateness, is how Laura and her daughter, Rose, did it.


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