A Wilder Rose

A Wilder Rose

3.7 21
by Susan Wittig Albert

View All Available Formats & Editions

The Little House books, which chronicled the pioneer adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, are among the most beloved books in the American literary canon. Lesser known is the secret, concealed for decades, of how they came to be. Now, bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert reimagines the fascinating story of Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, an intrepid

…  See more details below


The Little House books, which chronicled the pioneer adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, are among the most beloved books in the American literary canon. Lesser known is the secret, concealed for decades, of how they came to be. Now, bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert reimagines the fascinating story of Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, an intrepid world traveler and writer who returned to her parents’ Ozark farm, Rocky Ridge, in 1928. There she began a collaboration with her mother on the pioneer stories that would captivate generations of readers around the world.

Despite the books’ success, Rose’s involvement would remain a secret long after both women died. A vivid account of a great literary deception, A Wilder Rose is a spellbinding tale of a complicated mother-daughter relationship set against the brutal backdrop of the Great Depression.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 08/26/2013
Rose Wilder Lane was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and an accomplished professional author. Over the years, there has been literary conjecture that she was responsible in large part for the authorship of the Little House series. Albert's book is fictional, but based on Lane's unpublished diaries and letters, and makes a strong case for her active involvement with the Little House books. Albert presents the story of a strong-willed successful woman driven to help her parents develop their nest egg during the Great Depression. Lane labors tirelessly at her own work and editing that of her mother, never accepting credit or money, but growing frustrated at the difficulties and demands over time. Albert does an excellent job of bringing historical figures to life in a credible way; her novel is well paced, its characterizations are strong, and the plot is solidly constructed.. Readers begin to understand Lane's personality and mentality, as well as the things that drive her. Albert immerses readers in a historical period and gets them to understand the political and social conflicts of the time. Fans of Wilder will be intrigued by the book's thesis and its presentation.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-08-15
This pitch-perfect novel reimagines the life of Rose Wilder Lane, co-author of Little House on the Prairie. Albert (Widow's Tears, 2013, etc.) has discovered an endlessly fascinating protagonist. Lane, the libertarian and rumored lesbian, was an established, award-winning writer in her own right, but she may be best remembered today as the uncredited co-author of the Little House books written by her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Albert's well-researched novel draws from the letters and journal entries of both women to offer a fictionalized account of the years spanning 1928-1939. The Great Depression threatens not only Rose's livelihood as a writer, but also the free-wheeling, itinerant lifestyle she so values. When she and her companion, Helen Boylston, leave their home in Albania and return to the Wilder farmstead in Missouri, the move is meant to be temporary--Mansfield, Mo., has little to offer in the way of culture, after all, and Rose frequently clashes with her headstrong and old-fashioned mother. In the aftershock of the stock market crash, however, both women lose their savings, and Rose loses the financial stability she had enjoyed as a freelance writer before the crash. When a publisher shows interest in printing the stories of Laura's difficult frontier childhood (but Laura's untrained writing fails to impress), the mother and daughter enter into an unlikely, often contentious collaboration to produce the now-beloved Little House books. From this strange, very specific historical relationship, Albert has written a nuanced, moving and resonant novel about fraught mother-daughter relationships, family obligation, and the ways we both inherit and reject the values of our parents. The book also offers insightful, timely commentary on what it means to be a career writer. With all of the charm of the Little House series--and the benefit of a sophisticated, adult worldview--Albert's novel is an absolute pleasure.
Author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography - William Anderson
A fine study in personalities, an accurate depiction of time and place, and a thorough understanding of the birth of the Little House books.
Author of Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder - John E. Miller
Albert fictionalizes history in a way that helps readers better understand [the Lane/Wilder story]. She reopens the controversy over who deserves primary credit for the Little House series while at the same time engagingly and persuasively reimagines the conflicted mother-daughter relationship.
Kirkus - Kirkus Reviews
This pitch-perfect novel reimagines the life of Rose Wilder Lane, co-author of Little House on the Prairie . . . A nuanced, moving and resonant novel about fraught mother-daughter relationships, family obligation and the ways we both inherit and reject the values of our parents. . . . With all of the charm of the Little House series—and the benefit of a sophisticated, adult worldview—Albert’s novel is an absolute pleasure.
Author of The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane - William Holtz
Rose Wilder Lane deserves to be fully recognized for her co-authorship of the Little House books. Susan Wittig Albert does that, and more, in [this] compelling and well-researched novel . . . A revealing behind-the-scenes look into a literary deception that has persisted for decades.
PW Starred Review - Publisher's Weekly
Albert does an excellent job of bringing historical figures to life in a credible way; her novel is well paced, its characterizations are strong, and the plot is solidly constructed. Readers begin to understand Lane's personality and mentality, as well as the things that drive her.

Read More

Product Details

Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, Inc
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.63(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

A Wilder Rose 3.7 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 21 reviews.
TessT More than 1 year ago
Because I have always enjoyed Ms. Albert's books, I was thrilled to be asked to review A Wilder Rose. This is a historical/fictional account of Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter Rose Wilder Lane, and Rose's part in the writing of Laura's Little House On The Prairie books. I had not discovered Laura's books until my teenage years and immediately fell in love with them. After reading the books and watching the TV series, I was hooked, in fact I wanted to be Laura! I guess life as Laura or even as Laura's daughter was not all we had thought it was. To learn that Laura was not always the sweet little girl of my dreams almost hurt. To learn that Rose did not always adore her mother, as I did, hurt. Then to discover the real truth behind all of Laura's books, left me shocked and amazed. Why is it that we expect so much of our childhood idols, and fall apart when we learn the truth? I cannot blame Rose for her feelings about her mother, I do understand how it must have felt to be treated as Laura treated Rose, but I don't understand why Rose kept her mother's secret for all these years. Did she really feel that the readers would care any less for this wonderful series? Did Rose really feel that we readers were that shallow? I sincerely hope not! Ms. Albert's handling of this often touchy subject was as usual, amazing! She never fails to draw me in on the very first page of whatever she has written, be it China or the darling dahlias, or even her weekly column that I read and re-read. I salute Ms. Albert for taking us to Laura's world and making me realize that Laura was a real live human being, subject to the ups and downs and faults and frailities that we all have. Thanks to Rose for doing what she did, or we might never have been able to enjoy this wonderful series.
Angie_Lisle More than 1 year ago
A fictional (semi)biography of Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The most fascinating part of this story was seeing Laura Ingalls Wilder portrayed in a different light than was cast by the Little House series - for a brief moment, I found myself not liking her and then, I realized she was human. I read the Little House books when I was a kid; I loved the history they offered but my research into the real historical figures was limited. As I got older, I heard about the possible co-authorship between the mother-daughter duo but knew little else. I was reminded when I read the blurb for this book on NetGalley and requested a free copy for review. The story focuses solely on the co-authorship of the Little House books, with us readers seeing little else of Rose's life besides a summary revolving around Rose's bibliography (I may seek out a couple of Lane's titles to peruse at a later date, but I'm not in a rush to do so). In the end, this feels like a day-dream attempt to justify why Rose might have ghostwritten her mother's work. Many characters remained distant and in the background - like the father, Almanzo, which is a shame, given his involvement in Farmer Boy. I wish Rose's life had been fleshed out, with readers seeing her as both a child and an elderly person. We never see any character growth in Rose, which may account for story losing steam as it progresses, with already-distant characters treated like footnotes at the end. I used to daydream about being a pioneer girl as a child and it was that quality of this book that redeemed it. I wish the summaries had been expanded to match the real-action scenes in the book, never mind if they'd be part-fantasy (that only encourages me to return to my own childhood imaginings and reinvent them).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a saying quoted a few times in this book about getting there slowly, ever slowly. I think that that's where this book gets its strength. We aren't just shuffled from a scene in Rose's life to a scene in LIWs life, they are as interwoven as Rose's quilt that she works on as she tells the stories. As a quilter I can see how Albert "fit" the pieces to the storyboard and then sewed them together in this very wonderful fictionalized biography One of the greatest parts of this book is the extant bibliography in the back of the book. My aunt, now 89, always said the "Little House books" described how our family settled in the Midwest. Now I can share this with her
CherylM-M More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I was only made aware of the controversy surrounding the Laura Ingalls Wilder books a year or so ago. To me it made complete sense that her daughter Rose, who was an acclaimed writer before she returned home to her parents, would take on the task of editing and re-writing the books. Isn't that what editors do nowadays? Help to edit and reshape a manuscript? The only difference being that the editor usually doesn't receive credit for the work and is certainly not listed as a co-author because it isn't their concept. So I guess the real question is how much influence did Rose have on the stories and in turn that makes the stories more likely to hyped up fictional accounts, as opposed to memoir like tales of Laura and her family. The author has gone to bat for Rose in this book and I think this attempt at an accolade has been a long time coming. In the hierarchy of families one of the children will usually end up, as an adult, being the carer or person who makes sure the parents are ok. Rose was the sole living child of Almanzo and Laura, hence the duty fell to her. Now I understand that many people will think that the grown child doesn't have to fulfill that obligation as an adult, but I can guarantee you that in the majority of families there will be one person who does feel they have to. Of course in that case it means you leave your own dreams aside and perhaps have to alter your life to accommodate the elderly parents. So I can understand the frustration in Rose. The feeling of being caged with no choice or escape, despite loving her parents very much. That feeling would probably have been enhanced by the anxiety and despair during the Great Depression. It is a great pity that Rose didn't receive any recognition for her contributions and if she did indeed create instead of just edit and clean up the manuscripts then she must have been a far stronger person than people believed. Why? Because if she did co-author she let her mother take all the praise and she let her shine. Personally I think it was a very good marketing strategy. What better way to sell nostalgic books about a little girl growing up during the pioneer times than to have them penned by a true pioneer girl. It was like reality TV in book version. Rose knew what would sell and how to sell them to the public. This story depicts the social and economic history of that time and the impact it had on the people. It was interesting to read the many parallels to today's economic crisis and although the hardships are none in comparison to the earlier era they do echo them in a very similar way. The author also gives us a view into the complex mother-daughter relationship between Laura and Rose. I think every mother and daughter relationship is unique and complicated in its own way. The fact that both women were very alike in temperament and character would explain how they both perceived the other as domineering. Laura was a strong woman formed by her childhood in the midst of the pioneer era and Rose was the product of that strong woman. Overall I think this meticulously researched book will be of interest to fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and series. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses," written by Susan Wittig Albert, is a really  interesting book, for many reasons. You can tell that Susan did her research. Her writing takes you back to the 1930s, a time of depression and dust storms.  Have you  ever read Little House in the Big Woods? If not, have you seen the TV series based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's books? If you can say  yes to either question, then I suspect you'll find this book very interesting. It takes you back to that time period and you'll learn abou t how Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were written and how they came to be published. You also learn about her daughter, Rose Wilder  Lane. This book is primarily about Rose. At the front of the book, Susan has written A Note to the Reader. It's only a page and a half long, but once you read it, you'll see how  much research Susan did to write this book. All that research paid off because the characters feel as real as if they were still alive  today. I found it fascinating to read about this time period and the relationship between Rose and Laura. No one at that time wrote down  conversations or the words that were spoken, but Susan Wittig Albert does a great job of giving them voices that feel true. I recommend A Wilder Rose and give it a rating of Hel-of-a-Story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you to the ebook publishing gods for uploading a newly formatted text! The previous edition was damn near unreadable, but this new formatting is much better. I look forward to settling back into this book. :)
phenomshel More than 1 year ago
Susan Wittig Albert undertook a brave task when she decided to write about Rose Wilder Lane, and her role in the creation/editing of the famous Little House books with her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. After all, who wants to mess with a modern-day legend, that of the Pioneer Girl who became famous for her "memoirs"? Even so, Susan's sympathetic treatment of the beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder lessens the sting that might otherwise have spoiled the book for those determined to hang onto the idealization. The book is written from Rose's point of view and in Rose's very unique voice. This historical novelization is both masterfully written, and fascinating. This has been "can't put it down" reading for me. I find myself looking up and being relieved that we're not in the middle of a dust storm. And that last sentence brings me to what I was feeling in the most gripping point of this book, where Susan (in Rose's voice) is describing the Dust Bowl days in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. I'm a native Texan. I grew up in the Texas Panhandle. I've lived through dust storms (though not as bad as what they had in the 1930's.) But the descriptions in A Wilder Rose bring the Dust Bowl days to grim life, and vividly remind me of how tough the Depression really was. My mother was born in 1932 in the Texas Panhandle, and though she always made light of her childhood, I know it could not have been an easy life, as a member of a pioneer family in the largely (at that time) unsettled Texas Panhandle. Startlingly, there are a LOT of parallels in Rose's description of the angriness of people about the state of the country then, and the angriness of people about the state of our country now. I found myself not agreeing with Rose's politics, but I had to admire her passionate stance. Both Rose and her mother came alive for me in this book,and I was sorry to read the ending.
Anonymous 23 days ago
TheAvidReader_KA More than 1 year ago
A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert is the story of Rose Wilder Lane and the work she did on The Little House series. It is told from Rose’s point of view and spans the time from 1928 to 1939. A Wilder Rose is stated to be a fictionalized account of Rose’s life during this time period. Rose is telling the story to Norma Lee Ogg who lives with Rose (along with Norma Lee’s husband). Norma Lee wanted to hear about Rose’s writings because Norma Lee wants to be a writer. The story goes from 1939 back in time to start at 1928 and leads up to 1939. Rose tells how she encouraged her mother to write about her childhood. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote The Prairie Girl as a non-fiction book about her girlhood adventures with her parents. It was not accepted for publication so Rose encouraged Laura (or Mama Bess as she was called by Rose) to write a fictionalized account. Laura wrote the stories on dime store orange notebooks. Laura then gave them to Rose to type up. Rose states that they needed a lot of work to be accepted by a publisher. They were too flat. Rose would then rewrite and edit the books. Rose had no idea when she started this project that one book would turn into eight books. Rose was hoping that if her mother had an income that she could escape. Rose’s main goal was to earn money and live her own life. Rose did not like living at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri. She found it confining and depressing. Laura is portrayed as controlling (wanting to keep her daughter on a tight leash). There is little mention of Almanzo in this book. The book talks about Rose’s travels across Europe, the time she spent in Albania, her friendships with other writers, and the three “adopted” sons. The book also mentions the various articles and books that Rose wrote during her lifetime. From reading this book it seems that Rose suffered from depression that greatly affected her life outlook. I did not enjoy this book. It is supposed to be fiction, but read more like non-fiction. It was dry and I did not find the book engaging. When I read a book, I want to be pulled in (to be drawn into the world of the book). This book makes Laura Ingalls Wilder out to be a tyrant and her daughter, Rose spent her life trying to escape her mother. I give A Wilder Rose 2 out of 5 stars (I gave it two stars for the amount of research involved). There is a lot of political rantings in this book. Rose did not like FDR, The New Deal, and had a strong political view (that went against most people’s views). I was really looking forward to this book, but I was very disappointed. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started this book but did not finish it. It did not appeal to me, it had a very slow beginning and I never a plot.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
Like Jennifer at The Relentless Reader, I initially had reservations about reading A Wilder Rose. I didn't want my fond childhood memories of Little House on the Prairie shattered! After reading Jennifer's review, I decided to go ahead and give this book a try. I'm so glad I did! The real story isn't as scandalous as I feared, and really, I think the mother-daughter collaboration was a wonderful thing. It did feel a bit odd, trying to reconcile the Laura Ingalls Wilder of this book with the Melissa Gilbert version in my mind. But in the end, I appreciated having a more realistic portrayal. The book alternates perspectives, starting out with Rose Wilder Lane's student Norma Lee inquiring about her mentor's life. The narrative in these scenes felt a little too simple to me, almost like reading a middle-grade novel. It was fine, just not quite what I expected from a historical fiction novel geared toward adults. Then, as Rose told Norma Lee her story, the story shifts to a first person account, and those pages completely drew me in. I was thankful that Rose's perspective made up the bulk of the book. The author does a phenomenal job expressing Rose's libertarian side as is - without spin - and we see clearly why Rose Wilder Lane is considered one of the "founding mothers of the American libertarianism movement." Thanks to this novel, I'm completely inspired to go read Rose Wilder Lane's work. This book is a very satisfying read, and I think even those who aren't fans of Little House (if those even exist?!) would enjoy it.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.
Griperang72 More than 1 year ago
I jumped into this book with both feet running as I am one of the biggest Laura Ingalls Wilder and her whole life story. I have read a little about her daughter Rose I thought this would be a good way to find out more about her. After reading the book I am glad I read it and had a chance to learn about Rose's relationship with her mother. I think I had Rose (no pun intended) colored glasses on when it came to Laura so when I first started reading this I thought this can't be right but I know now that it is and not everything in life is perfect. This book gives you a view of what it was like back in the 1920s -- 1930s for one person and her view. I think if you are a fan of Laura's, Rose's or just want a very interesting book to read I suggest this book to you. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mysterybook_nerd98 More than 1 year ago
I was familiar with the Little House books from Laura Ingalls Wilder and of course Little House on the Prairie based on those books. I wasn't aware, however, of Laura's daughter Rose's involvement. So, when I heard this book was written I was intrigued. I found it to be a fascinating read about the story behind the Little House books. I felt the author captured that time period and Rose's voice perfectly. I didn't know much about Rose, nor did I know she also wrote books based on her mother's story. She was an interesting and accomplished person in her own right. I plan on reading Rose's books as well. I received a complimentary book in exchange for an honest review.
Gretchen1 More than 1 year ago
I truly liked the life of Rose Wilder Lane written in the third person. I found it very interesting, and it filled some gaps that I'd been wondering about in her and her parent's lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book for a book club to discuss!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth spending money on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, no reason now to spend $10 on this book since both reviews are plot spoilers that reveal everything! Too bad, would have liked to have read this book FOR MYSELF, but once again, plot spoilers seems to think no one but themselves can read a book. You have them to thank, bn, for another lost sale.