Sunday, June 30, 2013
A Wilder Rose ~ Two Lives
Susan Wittig Albert has done a masterful work with the two subjects of her book, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. It is a novel, a novel with facts to be explored. In her very fine reader's companion to A Wilder Rose, Albert says " Writing novels about real people can be a tricky business"
What can be so tricky about it, you might well ask? Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories about a time gone by are now a fabric of our society and part of legend, part of our childhood. Let me let Laura herself explain " All I have told is true bit it is not the whole truth".
We knew her as an unpublished, inexperienced writer who put pencil to paper and wrote her memories of life on the prairie and frontier with her family. In actuality, Wilder and her daughter Rose were collaborators in taking the memories of pioneering and making them publishable and saleable.
The author's years of meticulous study of original documents including the diaries and day journals of both women and scholarly comparisons of the writing of both are compelling but sympathetic. We can enjoy them by understanding that both of these women lived through hard times and created stories that endure.
Susan Albert ends her very excellent Reader's Companion with a statement in response to those who say that something has changed with this new knowledge. I wholeheartedly agree with her when she says, "Do the books really 'mean something different' "? I don't think so."
They are "books that we still cherish, some eight decades after their publication."