Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

CarolineIn this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

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I was raised on Little House on the Prairie. The book series was my very first boxed set and the TV show was ALWAYS on at my house (and let’s be real, it still is). When I read the books for the first time I wasn’t too much older than Laura was and it was easy to relate to her sense of adventure and excitement over all the changes in her life. As I got older I found myself wondering more and more about pioneer life from the adult perspective. Enter Caroline: Little House, Revisited.

I was so excited when this book popped up on my Amazon recommended page, and it didn’t disappoint! Sarah Miller expertly blends fact with the fiction Laura created – like beloved character Mr. Edwards – to give readers a glimpse into what a trip to the prairie would have been like for an expectant mother who already had two young children. While I was reading it felt like I had tapped directly in to Caroline’s thoughts and emotions. Her outward stoicism and inward reflection perfectly captured the ideal Victorian woman of the time. I scrolled through a few reviews on goodreads and there were quite a few people who didn’t appreciate the internal struggles as much as I did, but I found them to be completely authentic. It did make the story a little slower, but that just gives you more time to savor the prose-like writing.

I think the thing I appreciated the most about Caroline: Little House, Revisited is that it is very clearly geared towards an adult audience. Chamber pots and outhouses are addressed, Caroline’s fear of the Native Americans is front and center, and the nature of childbirth on the plains is clearly laid out. Can you imagine traveling hundreds of miles without knowing if there would be someone to help you give birth at the end of your journey? And then, even if there was someone to help, it would be a complete stranger.

It was so refreshing to revisit these familiar stories from an adult perspective. It was such a nostalgic experience, it felt like getting a hug from Caroline herself.

5 StarsSee the source image

 

2 thoughts on “Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

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