Whenever I opened The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson, I was instantly transported back to my childhood.
I read all of the Little House books as a kid, and I have been interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder since becoming a writer myself. This book gives us a look into Laura’s relationship with her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who helped her with the Little House books. Seeing the correspondence between the two (mainly from L.I.W. to her daughter) was quite interesting. It gives us a unique look into everything it took to make the Little House books a reality. I would definitely be interested in a book of letters penned by Rose Wilder Lane, as there aren’t very many in this book.
This is supposed to be the last batch of unpublished letters penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and they are written between the late 1800s and early 1950s. There are many letters from before her decision to become a professional writer, and this is great to read; especially considering a lot of these letters have awkward diction and syntax. It makes her more relatable.
Along with the large amount of letters written to her daughter, there are bits of fan mail and descriptions of her travel. I loved getting to see the mail from Laura to friends, teachers, and fans that had written to her after the Little House books became famous.
While I think this is a fantastic book to add to your library if you are an avid Laura Ingalls Wilder (and Little House) fan, a lot of these letters assume you have a decent amount of background knowledge in regards to L.I.W. and the L.H. books. If you are just a casual L.I.W. fan, this book probably isn’t for you, as it covers some of the day-to-day struggles and joys that she lived through.
The biggest disappointment I had with this book was that there are a few letters in it that I’m almost positive I’ve read before. I am not sure if I read them in another collection, but I do believe I saw some familiar ones.
All in all, a great addition to my home library, and I will definitely be re-reading the Little House books this winter.
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.