by: Sarah Miller
Published by:William Morrow Paperbacks
Genres:Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback
USA Today Bestseller!
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.
The books that really got me reading as a child are the ‘Little House’ series. I was also a huge fan of the show (I cried during the finale). One Christmas my parents gave me a boxed set of all the ‘Little House’ books. I still have them today .
Also, I can’t get enough of this cover!
‘Caroline’ is told in third person. The entire novel is pretty much Caroline’s thoughts. This gives the story a very different feel then the ‘Little House’ books. Since it is told from an adult’s perspective it has a much grittier and darker tone. Children are able to see everything as an adventure where adults have to sweat the details and shoulder the worry. This is true when comparing ‘The Little House Books’ to ‘Caroline’. In fact this is the best book I’ve ever read that represents what it feels like to be a mother. There is never a moment when you aren’t thinking and worrying about your children.
Caroline’s story also really drives home the debt that Americans owe to the pioneers. For example, before the Ingalls leave for Kansas, Caroline tells the girls that they may never see their cousins again. This is because traveling between Minnesota and Kansas is so long and time-consuming that they may never go back, ever.
There is a few things about Caroline’s character that did bother me. In the ‘Little House’ books Ma is portrayed laid back, friendly, and happy. In this novel, since we can see inside Caroline’s mind, we see that see disagrees with many of her husband’s decisions but she never questions him. I know Caroline was a woman of her time but Charles seemed open to Caroline’s opinion. It would have been nice to see Caroline speak up for herself more.
The prose in this novel is very beautiful and detailed. At some points it is a little too detailed and flowery for me.The subject matter is gritty and harsh and sometimes the language just conflicted with the situation. Also, I often have to reread entire paragraphs to understand what was happening.
I loved ‘Caroline’. Everyone must read this book to appreciate what American pioneers sacrificed so we can live the lives we do today. I really enjoyed Caroline’s story and it has ignited a new spark in me to dive back into the ‘Little House’ novels and TV show.