The Long Winter was such a harrowing read. Laura and her family nearly starve to death in a particularly brutal winter, where they and indeed the fledgling town where they live, are saved by the daring of Laura’s future husband, Almanzo Wilder, who, along with his friend, brings vital supplies to the town’s snowbound population.
It was always going to be a tough volume to follow in terms of drama. Part of you, as the reader, craves more excitement, but there is always the knowledge that this is a real (although somewhat romanticised version) story about real people and their lives, and actually, reading this much gentler, more domestic volume, is a bit of relief. It is nice to know that Laura was not always having a hard time of her pioneering life.
In this volume, Laura has to do her final bit of growing up, waving goodbye to her beloved sister Mary, getting her first jobs and finishing school. It’s tough. You always sense the wildness in Laura that doesn’t want to be tamed or pious or good and personally, I sympathise with that version of Laura far more than the well behaved one. I think it’s part of what makes theses books so enduring, that Laura’s own mind is so modern, despite the restraints of the time she grew up in. It was a little sad to see her wildness squashed here.
It is however, enjoyable to see her finally getting a real social life and beginning to strike out on her own and I am very much looking forward to reading about what happens next for her.
The books are still suitable for primary aged readers as even with Laura reaching almost adulthood there is nothing in here to shock or scandalise. They do become less appealing to boy readers as the series evolves however, mainly because Laura’s escapades are being tamed by the social expectations placed upon her.