When I was a little girl, I constantly read and reread the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read Little House in the Big Woods to my boys when they were small, and we used to watch the television series together quite often, as well. The Little House books have always held a special place in my heart.
Then I heard Caroline: Little House, Revisited was to be released; telling the story of the Ingalls family journey to Kansas through the eyes of Caroline. To say I was excited almost seems an understatement about how I felt when I heard the news, and I was beyond delighted when my advance copy arrived in the mail.
Many of the events that take place in the book will be familiar to Little House fans in this retelling. One notable difference is Miller’s use of a historically correct timeline, rather than the fictional one Wilder used. That might cause a bit of confusion for the casual Little House fan (if there is such a thing), but not so much that it detracts from the story, in my opinion.
The trip to Kansas certainly has darker overtones when viewed through Caroline’s perspective. Though she never speaks of it, she constantly worries about her unborn child, fearful that something will go wrong with the pregnancy. At other times, she dreads the thought of giving birth without a woman available to help her—thankfully, that wasn’t the case, but it was a very real possibility for her, and she was well aware of it.
The book also tells of the difficulties of traveling such a long distance in a wagon, something that I don’t recall being featured in Wilder’s story. Through Caroline, we get a good look at how rough it is: no bathing, no time to do laundry or mending, and the complete upheaval of any semblance to a normal routine. The thing that struck me most was Caroline’s frustration with preparing meals. Unused to cooking outdoors over an open fire, she is constantly unhappy with the end result, and feels ashamed to serve her family sub-standard meals. I’ve had a more than a few cooking mishaps over the years, and I could easily relate to her frustration about it.
Caroline: Little House, Revisited is a beautifully written story that I think will appeal to most fans of the Little House books. I loved the story and was thoroughly enjoyed the fresh perspective. By the time I reached the end, I found myself hoping that we could see more of the family’s travels through Caroline’s eyes. How wonderful that would be!
About the Book
A September Indie Next Pick
One of Refinery29’s Best Reads of September
In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, 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
About the Author