The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

Deborah Friedell writes:

In The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’, Wendy McClure, a children’s book editor, details her obsession with what she calls ‘Laura World’. She visits the Big Woods in Wisconsin where Wilder was born; the places where Wilder’s parents farmed – never successfully – in Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota; then Missouri, where Wilder moved when she married, and stayed. McClure’s mother dies, and immersing herself in Laura World becomes a way of mourning her own childhood. She makes candy by pouring syrup on snow, twists hay, buys molasses (at Whole Foods) and prowls eBay for a butter churn, but none of it satisfies. What she’s really after is a state of mind: ‘Sometimes Laura World wasn’t a realm of log cabins or prairies, it was a way of being. Really, a way of being happy.’

(LRB 22 November 2012)