The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

I like the Little House On The Prairie books. A lot. Somehow I put all nine books in my 2010 Top Five list. And now I’m reading a book *about* the Little House books. But author Wendy McClure likes them even more, enough to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder museums and to try cooking like a pioneer. Which she admits might be a little weird, but at least she has a good sense of humour about it.


    When talking to friends about buying a [butter] churn, one must be careful when making hand gestures. Do not simulate holding the gesture in your hands and pumping it up and down, lest it appear you are talking about hand jobs.


Both semi-autobiographical and semi-biographical, McClure writes about her personal quest for Laura’s world and an elusive something else she is searching for. She also delves into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s non-fictional life as she peers down the rabbit hole of fandom. Turns out, there is not only this book about Laura Ingalls Wilder, there are lots of books about the Ingalls family and their little house. According to McClure, there are websites, research papers, biographies, books, museums, and more. The thing is, reading this book is about as far as I want to go into Laura World. OK, maybe I’d visit a Laura Ingalls homestead if I *happened* to be near one.


    How could you not want to go to a place that you remember but have never been?


Book blurb:

Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House On The Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder – a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places McClure has never been to yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family – looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House – exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns. Whether she’s churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of “the Laura experience”. Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder’s life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.