Thursday, 29 August 2013

THE LONG WINTER – Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1940

This is the most harrowing of the ‘Little House’ books, yet Ingalls Wilder still makes it entertaining. Like Little House in the Big Woods, it is concerned with the minutiae of everyday life, although in this case, many days are spent just trying to survive.
It begins on a claim shanty which Pa has built. Laura is pleased to be able to help him gather in the hay, which will ultimately help them, as they are able to burn it during the fiercest winter days.
When the terrible winter of 1880-1 begins they are lucky to be able to move into the new town of De Smet in South Dakota, where Pa has erected a building. This enables Laura to go to school and excel at her work but it also saves them when the blizzard begins.
Dependent upon trains which have been snowed into cuttings (contrasted obliquely with their previous ability to live off the land) the town is isolated and only by daring and innovation do the inhabitants survive.

But this is also an important step in Laura’s personal life as this is the first book to feature Almonzo Wilder, her future husband and it is interesting to see how she first presents him.

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