Sunday, November 12, 2017

Review: Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Caroline: Little House, Revisited Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the wonderful reimagining of the book "Little House on the Prairie" from Laura Ingalls' mother's point of view. This is an adult version of the classic children's story. Caroline, the matriarch of the Ingalls clan holds together her family as they move from Wisconsin to the "Indian Territory" of Kansas in 1870. During that trip, Caroline is pregnant with baby Carrie, her soon to be namesake. New land is opening up to settlers and Caroline's husband Charles wants to be one of the early arrivals to get his pick of prime land. His dream is to own a large farm that would one day thrive, making a wonderful home for his family. The trip is rough, especially for a pregnant woman and is not without it's complications. More issues arise once the family stakes their claim, including visits from Indians, prairie fires, and malaria. It is a tough first year, but together with his wife Caroline, Charles and the family make the best of every situation they encounter.

I think that Caroline should be read along with or just after reading the original story. It really adds to the whole experience of this read. This book is definitely Caroline's story and it's definitely an adult retelling of the story. The classic book by Laura shows Caroline as a strong woman who is this perfect pillar of the family. This account shows the more human side of "Ma" as she deals with frustrations, fears, and concerns for her family. To her girls, and even to Charles, she still comes off as the strong, wise woman we meet in the original book, but Miller's account lets us see behind that proverbial curtain, giving the reader an understanding of how tough it was to hold together a family out on the prairie in Kansas. It was a trip she dreaded taking, but once they left Wisconsin, she was all in and resigned to making the best of this new life and adventure that "Pa" was taking them on.

This book has minor deviations here and there from the original story to be more historically accurate. The Little House collection that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote is mostly a work of fiction. It is Laura's retelling of some of the stories of her life growing up in the late 19th century, but as with many adults, childish memories can be a bit muddled. Sarah Miller did her homework to verify the timeline and locations of the Ingalls family between 1870 and 1873-ish. So there are a few deviations and additions but I do not think it takes away from the story at all. If anything, it strengthens the story. Most of the quotes and conversations in this book are straight from the original, which made it very fun to see these "recollections" told from both Laura and Caroline's point of view, if you read the original with this book. I was a fan of the classic books growing up and I am a fan of Miller's revisited story.

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Review: Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The classic tale of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the move her family made from Wisconsin to "Indian Territory" in Kansas. Laura's father Charles dreamed of moving to the newly opened land to settlers to build a large farm. They weather good and bad throughout the move and the first year of settlement. This is a children's story told from Laura's point of view.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic and eerie work of dystopian fiction. In a future society, the Republic of Gilead, Offred is a handmaid whose purpose in life is to procreate. The tale follows her life as a handmaid while she recalls her former life before the coup that led to the establishment of the new society. In the Republic of Gilead men and women have assigned roles. Many are left barren due to chemical warfare during the governmental overthrow. Women who can procreate are deemed handmaids and are assigned to men and their wives for the purpose of building a family. Rebels and those who do not follow their assigned tasks are executed and left for all to view. Offred tries to be the dutiful handmaid, but is constantly concerned about the friends and family she has been separated from since the establishment of the new government. It is a haunting look at what could happen when an overzealous religious and political power take control of federal government. Not so far fetched these days.

I'm not usually a fan of dystopian fiction, but this book certainly is worth reading during the crazy political climate that the US faces today. It is as relevant today, maybe more so, than at the time of the original writing in 1985.

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