Susan Wittig Albert is a popular and gifted novelist. I received an email from her after my 3 part posts I'd written after our trip to visit the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Mansfield, MO. Mrs. Albert generously offered to send me a copy of her book, A Wilder Rose, for review. That I was delighted to hear from her and then to receive the book goes without saying.
This book is written as fiction, but is based on fact after the author's thorough research of Rose Wilder Lane's unpublished diaries and journals. The question over the true authorship of the Little House books seems to be answered in A Wilder Rose. The answer may surprise, and possibly disappoint, some of the die-hard Laura Ingalls Wilder fans.
I found the story about the relationship of these two women, Laura and her daughter, Rose, to be very well-written, entertaining and fascinating. Rose is a very intelligent and complex person who embraces her parent's work ethics, but often rejects their values. She was also a highly successful author long before her mother, Laura, ever started writing the Little House books.
There are many interesting tidbits in this book and one such tidbit was that there is a possible explanation as to why Rose built the new house for Laura and Almanzo. For me, a few other questions remained after reading this book and I'm not sure they can ever be answered. Taking into consideration Rose's very active imagination, I have to wonder if she might not have elaborated in her writings in her diaries. Particularly during the times she was frustrated with her mother. I also can see Laura's side of things, after reading about Rose's often Bohemian lifestyle and knowing how it would appear to a very small and rural community back in those days. There was a reason she was referred to as The Wilder Rose.
Susan Wittig Albert has written a book that I will read more than once. In part because I'm a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but beyond that is the fact that this novel is not just about Rose and Laura and whether or not the Little House books were co-authored. It is also full of interesting historical facts true to that period in the late 1920's and the 1930's and touches on the Great Depression and how it affected their lives.
I'm not quite sure what to think about the conclusion the author reaches in this novel about the true authorship of the Little House books. I know the evidence points strongly to the idea that there was a collaboration, at the very least. I do believe that the stories were Laura's and I do know that she had written the manuscripts for the books. Whether or not the manuscripts were just merely edited or totally rewritten is something I'd probably have to research for myself. Either way, I still consider them Laura's books. They were her stories.
Thank you to Susan Wittig Albert for sending me this entertaining and thought-provoking book. I thoroughly enjoyed it!