The Wilder Life

My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

McClure, Wendy

(Book - 2011)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Wilder Life
In this funny and thoughtful guide to a romanticized version of the American expansion west, children's book editor and memoirist McClure (I'm Not the New Me) attempts to recapture her childhood vision of "Laura World" (i.e., the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books about an 1880s pioneer family).
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2011
ISBN: 1594487804
Branch Call Number: 813.5 W672m 2011
Characteristics: 336 p. ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

The author of this book irreverently retraces the pioneer journeys of the Ingalls family as depicted in the famous Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, identifying its fictional and factual aspects while visiting the historical sites where young Laura grew up.

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Nov 09, 2013
  • lisahiggs rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I like the Little House On The Prairie books. A lot. Somehow I put all nine books in my 2010 Top Five list. And now I’m reading a book *about* the Little House books. But author Wendy McClure likes them even more, enough to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder museums and to try cooking like a pioneer. Which she admits might be a little weird, but at least she has a good sense of humour about it.

Both semi-autobiographical and semi-biographical, McClure writes about her personal quest for Laura’s world and an elusive something else she is searching for. She also delves into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s non-fictional life as she peers down the rabbit hole of fandom. Turns out, there is not only this book about Laura Ingalls Wilder, there are lots of books about the Ingalls family and their little house. According to McClure, there are websites, research papers, biographies, books, museums, and more. The thing is, reading this book is about as far as I want to go into Laura World. OK, maybe I’d visit a Laura Ingalls homestead if I *happened* to be near one.

May 11, 2012
  • branch_reviews rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

On a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder McClure retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.
Reviewed by CD

Nov 21, 2011
  • ehbooklover rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

"The Wilder Life" follows a woman's pilgrimage to all places associated with the Laura Ingalls Wilder books she read and loved as a child. Chock full of interesting facts and laugh-out-loud parts, this book is part travelogue, part journey of self-discovery.

Aug 09, 2011
  • Chitownchica rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I thought it was going to be a lot better than it actually was. I love everything, Laura Wilder and Little House, but it was a big let down because the author was really learning about everything as she went-- something she made very clear. Still, there were several laugh out loud moments and I was reminded several times about what I love about LW, LH and the simple life.

Aug 08, 2011
  • LocketLibrarian rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Everyone who grew up wishing she was friends with Laura Ingalls, or that she actually WAS Laura needs to read this book.

"Wendy McClure is an unsentimental writer, but she loves the Little House On The Prairie books. No, she really loves them. She loves them so much that she bought a butter churn on eBay. And she churned butter — you know, just to see. She took off on a trip with her heroically game boyfriend (who's charming in part because he doesn't insist on making a point of how heroically game he is), and they visited historic places where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, and museums and pageants and kitschy stores where she's still beloved. The Wilder Life is a book of stories about these adventures, and unlike a lot of similarly structured books in which writers appear to be doing unusual things just to write books about them, McClure essentially uses the opportunity to write a series of thoughtful essays about memory at different levels. There's the tiny, very specific theme of her particular childhood love of the Little House books, but as she immerses herself in those memories, it pulls back to become a book about the way all of us relate to stories we hear as children, and about the way nostalgia operates unpredictably and sometimes painfully, and ultimately even about our false cultural memories of a romantic pioneer past that only sort of happened."
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Nov 09, 2013
  • lisahiggs rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

How could you not want to go to a place that you remember but have never been?

Nov 09, 2013
  • lisahiggs rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

When talking to friends about buying a [butter] churn, one must be careful when making hand gestures. Do not simulate holding the gesture in your hands and pumping it up and down, lest it appear you are talking about hand jobs.


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