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Review: Little House in The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Updated on December 17, 2011
Laura_Ingalls_Wilder | Source

Little House in the Big Woods is the first novel of writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, which inspired the television series “The little house on the prairie“, although, here we are actually in the Big Woods, a wooded area in Wisconsin, and not yet on the Prairie.

The novel is presented in third person, but the protagonist is the author, little Laura Ingalls, narrating the events of her childhood. It’s the beginning of the story from where her memories start.

Written almost like a diary, Little House in the Big Woods runs through the highlights of life in the little log house on the edge of the forest, where, little Laura could not see houses, but only trees.

The full details of this novel offer a valuable historical document that allows the reader to fully understand how life was at that time. The events revolve around the year 1870, the time of the pioneers, an age when cheeses were home-made, as well as sugar, and where, who lived in those remote lands, was responsible for gathering food for themselves by hunting with the few resources they had at their disposal.

Everything is seen and narrated through the eyes of Laura, that at that time was a child of just five years old. The book depicts the succession of four seasons in the big woods of Wisconsin where the harmonious existence flows in the sign of discipline and hard work. Laura is the focal point that guides the reader though those days of her young, worry-free life. From the text we can feel also Laura’s strong attachment to her father, who plays a decisive role in the novel, as well as in her life.

The other characters seem almost marginal; Carrie is too small to have a role in the story, Mary has beautiful hair unlike Laura’s, the children are depicted playing together and helping the mother together. Laura was with her mother all day, but in the novel you can feel that, although her father was strict, Laura was looking forward to his return after a day spent outdoors working.

The book-style is simple, but veiled by the shadow of melancholy. The novel flows well, written in plain and understandable English. While there is no real division into chapters, the book is divided in specific times: winter, Christmas, summer, harvest season, the journey into town, and so on. This novel, not only has historical value, but it is also a tribute to the life lived in a natural way, without the frenzy or the technology of today's world, and without the exorbitant number of useless objects that surround us today. At that time they lived with very little, and Laura, at the end of the story, makes us understand how great and precious that little was.


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    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 3 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Very nicely written review of a beautiful book from my childhood, that, like other commenters above, reminds me of my grandmother's early life in North Dakota. I also enjoyed a book by Laura Wilders' daughter, Rose Wilders Lane, that talked about her life and her mother's twilight years. Thank you for this review! Look forward to reading more! Sharing this!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 6 years ago from Iowa

      Lovely review of a favorite of mine. Pollyannalana, thanks for finding this and sharing in follow-up to your own great hub.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

      Very well written and meaningful. Laura's stories have been an entertainment for me for many years. Voted up.


    • Farkle profile image

      Farkle 6 years ago

      rjsadowski & reynold jay

      Thanks for the comments!

    • profile image

      reynold jay 6 years ago

      Thanks for a concise review of this novel. I love the TV series and did a HUB on Michael Landon wondering, " Sent to us from Heaven?" and concluded that he very likely was heaven sent. OF course , it was the novels that inspired Michael and the entire TV series. Up and beautiful for me this morning.

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 6 years ago

      Good hub. It reminds me of my mother who was born in 1895 and grew up in North-Central Wisconsin. She lived on a poor potato farm and their yearly survival depended upon having a good harvest. I write about her coming of age in my short story "Graduation"