Sunday, February 12, 2012

"This Wilder Life" By: Wendy McClure Review

"This Wilder Life" 
By: Wendy McClure

Synopsis from Amazon:
      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 she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces 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, and explores 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.
     The Wilder Life is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened.
My Thoughts:
       I received my first Laura Ingalls Wilder book from my next door neighbor for Christmas when I was about 8 years old. I can still remember holding the yellow box set in my hands and being excited for the exciting new world. I still have that yellowed box set, yet sadly my neighbor passed away almost 14 years ago. The Little House on the Prairie world brings people together and that is a central theme throughout one of my favorite nonfiction books, “The Wilder Life.”
      Wendy McClure published “The Wilder Life” in early 2011, but I didn’t actually find it until early 2012 at my local library. Always a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder trivia and biographies, I picked it up on a whim. I had seen the book advertised on GoodReads and through other blogs, but hadn’t thought much about it until I had it in my hands.
       “The Wilder Life” chronicles Wendy’s journey through the home sites of Laura Ingalls Wilder while trying to learn and do things as the Ingalls family would do them. She learns to churn butter, cook salt pork, and generally have a pioneering experience. At one of the home sites, she sleeps in a covered wagon. At another she gets to see Pa’s real fiddle.
      Beyond being a chronicle of her journey, Wendy places several anecdotes about her own life throughout the book. It’s almost as if, as she was finding the true nature of Laura, she was finding herself as well. Through humor, Wendy takes you on a journey of self discovery. An interesting take on how the world perceives you and how you perceive yourself.
      I picked this book up on a whim but it's gonna be one that sticks with me for a while. A gorgeously written memoir, I am going to try to talk my book groups into reading this one. Beyond being a wonderful historic/biographical piece, it's a moving tribute to life.

Book Details
Publisher: Riverhead Publishing
Date of Publication: April 14, 2011
# of Pages: 354


  1. I loved this book! It is actually one of my staff recs at the bookstore where I work. I love it because I actually had an idea to go to all the different sites one time when I found a book that listed all of them. So it was fun reading the author's experiences.

  2. I loved this book too! Did you get a chance to go to any of the sites? I've been to Mansfield, but would love to go to the Kansas site. :) Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Thanks for stopping by to comment on my review. Wasn't it a fun read? I love reading memoirs that include going back to the source. Have you read The Magician's Book by Laura Miller. About her memories of C. S. Lewis, biography of Lewis and Tolkein, and literary analysis. A delight. Also, How the Heather Looks, by Joan Bodger, about travelling to the settings of English children's books.

  4. I am so glad I came by your blog on the blog hop. I am a long time Laura Ingalls Wilder fan and have almost every book written about her. I am not going to look for this book. Great review.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com