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

( 83 )

Overview

For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession.

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 ...

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

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Overview

For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Like many other girls growing up in suburban Illinois, Wendy McClure fantasized that she was actually sharing the little prairie homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As an adult, she followed that dream in ways by becoming a busy children's book editor, but in this loving pilgrimage of a memoir, she goes even further, indulging her fascination and love for The Little House on the Prairie by seeking out its continuing presence in the lives of readers. These "snapshots from a Little House life" have been described as "deeply human, darkly hilarious" and imbued with a touch "as light as Max's best biscuits, but the results still sticks to your ribs." A Discover Great New Writers selection; now in a trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Edward Ash-Milby

Jezebel.com
You need not have been an obsessive fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder in order to appreciate McClure's memoir The Wilder Life— because, really, she's not just talking about this one series, but about the magic childhood books can hold throughout one's life...Breezy and funny and fun.
Salon
"[The Wilder Life] has the power to charm even those who shudder at the thought of gingham, calving or salt pork.…McClure's touch is as light as Ma's best biscuits, but the result still sticks to your ribs."--( Laura Miller)
The A.V. Club
Even for people who've never read Laura Ingalls Wilder's work, The Wilder Life is an insightful, entertaining look at our relationship with pop culture, how it changes from youth to adulthood, how it intersects with the real world, and how other people relate to the personal things we love.
NPR "What We're Reading" blog
Deeply human, darkly hilarious… an entertaining and touching book — and an essential for Little House fans.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Fans of the ‘Little House' series will eat up this book like a hot Johnny cake, and well they should, because McClure highlights that intangible something about the series that strikes a deep chord in even the most casual reader.
Boston Globe
Highly engaging, often hilarious book. . . the author's pilgrimage arrives at what feels like well-earned literary nostalgia.
Kirkus Reviews

BUST magazine columnist and children's-book editor McClure (I'm Not the New Me, 2005, etc.) takes an engaging road trip in search of a remembered "Laura World."

"I was born in 1867 in a log cabin in Wisconsin and maybe you were, too." Like millions of other young readers, mostly girls, the author had lived the dream and then—possibly impelled by the disappointing way the series peters out—moved on. Hoping to recapture the magic after glimpsing that world years later in a re-reading Little House in the Big Woods (1932), McClure checks out the LHOP canon's continuing role in online communities, lines of commercial products, the perpetually-in-syndication TV series and a steady stream of literary and other cultural spinoffs. The author also tries her hand at butter churning and farm cookery, and sets out with an obliging companion on a Midwestern pilgrimage. McClure presents a merry travelogue that features stops at Pepin, Wisc. (where Wilder was born), Rocky Ridge Farm (where she died) and most of the other widely scattered sites the peripatetic Ingalls clan set down in between, as well as meetings with fellow pilgrims, a wade in Plum Creek, a weekend at a self-sufficient farm (made scary by a group of "end times" survivalists) and even a later jaunt to the upstate New York farm where Wilder's husband Almanzo grew up. McClure also ruminates on the qualities that give Wilder's fictionalized but oh-so-evocative memoirs their enduring appeal. In the end, she moves on once again—coming to recognize the beguiling joy and simplicity of Laura World, but at a slight remove brought on by years and other experiences.

Many others have made the same pilgrimage, but not, perhaps, with such a winning mix of humor and painless introspection.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594485688
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 398,731
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Wendy McClure
Wendy McClure has been writing about her obsessions both online and in print for nearly a decade. In addition to her 2005 memoir, I’m Not the New Me, she is a columnist for BUST Magazine and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine. McClure holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Chicago, where she is senior editor at the children’s book publisher Albert Whitman & Company.
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Table of Contents

1 Our Past Life 1

2 Whose Woods These are 28

3 Going to Town 50

4 Good Girls and Golden Curls 74

5 There is a Happy Land Far, Far Away 100

6 The Way Home 141

7 There Won't Be Horses 179

8 Fragments of a Dream 209

9 Anywhere East or South 249

10 The Road Back 281

11 Be It Enacted 299

12 Unremembered 321

Acknowledgments 329

Selected Bibliography 333

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enduring love of all things Laura

    Subtitled: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. When I saw The Wilder Life, I just knew I had to read it. I used to bicycle down to the Byron Library once a week and pester Miss Spicer for her next book recommendation. I had finished all of The Borrowers (I really wanted to live in their little mouse world) when she recommended Little House in the Big Woods. Well, I fell in love with this series and the whole kit and caboodle. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. So did Wendy McClure. McClure's parents are moving, so Wendy comes over to help with their garage sale. She comes upon her childhood copy of Little House in the Big Woods. Rereading it brings it all back... "...I wanted to live in one room with my whole family and have a pathetic corncob doll all my own. I wanted to wear a calico sunbonnet - or rather, I wanted to not wear a calico sunbonnet, the way Laura did, letting it hang down her back by its ties. I wanted to do chores because of those books. Carry water, churn butter, make headcheese. I wanted dead rabbits brought home for supper. I wanted to go out into the backyard and just, I don't know, grab stuff off trees, or uproot things from the ground, and bring it all inside in a basket and have my parents say "My land! What a harvest!" And so begins the exploration of all things Laura - Laura world as she comes to call it. McClure tries all the things she wanted to do -churning butter, making by pouring syrup in the snow, reproducing recipes and more. She tracks down everything ever written about the Ingalls/Wilders, in print, on the Internet and finally in person. McClure (often with her boyfriend Chris) retraces the journeys of the Ingalls family, visits the homesteads and museums and meets others who love Laura as much as she does. (and some who are downright obsessive) It was fascinating to learn more about the 'real' Laura and the life and inspiration behind the books. Wendy McClure is an excellent writer. Her introspective search for Laura is told with charm and much humour. I found myself laughing out loud many times. I too found myself wondering what is is that attracted us as children to the books and stayed with us as adults. "I considered this as I stared up at the ceiling of our tent. Who knew how many times those books made me idly wish for a now other than the one I was in, that the world would somehow crack open and reveal a simpler life?" You don't need to be a Laura fan to enjoy The Wilder Life, but you'll definitely close the last page as a Wendy McClure fan. A memoir that kept me engaged from first page to last.

    15 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Getting in touch with the past and one's past

    The description of this book reads: "story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened" and this couldn't be more true. The Wilder Life is a compelling read that will resonate with anyone who read through the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child, potentially looking to better understand the world where they lived by contrasting it with a world gone by... only to return as an adult in an even more confusing world to remember reading about a simpler world during a simpler time in one's own life.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2011

    Great

    A perfect book for all ages and I am only 9 and watch the movies and read the books they are all good this book is perfect for your child to read and it will teach your child about the olden days too!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

    Not as good as it could have been

    I was a huge fan of the Little House books as a child, so much so that my parents took us on trips to visit all of the real life locations, so I was excited to hear about this book and couldn't wait to read it. Some of it I liked quite a lot. But what was up with the author's problem with Christians and Faith? She seemed to really have an issue with it and that really distracted me while reading.

    7 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

    If you loved the Laura books, you will love this one too.

    This was a great book: touching, fun, and funny. Butter churning for the modern reader. If you loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when you were a kid (or maybe still) AND don't mind a few of your youthful beliefs about pioneer living correctetd, then you should give this a read.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    From cora

    Love little house books

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    Wonderful Reading!!!

    Fresh and enlightening! A must read for any Little House fan!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Unique

    Like the julia child book/movie

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2011

    Must read for Little House fans

    I grew up reading the Little House books and wanting to live Laura's life. Following the author on her 'pilgrimage' made me laugh and cry, at times.

    Her approach to the deeper sense of meaning the Little House books had for her was touching and accessible.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2012

    Engaging but loses steam by the end

    I loved the idea of the book and her writing style. Her adventures are entertaining and mostly informative, but abou 3/4 of the way through the book, it seemd to lose steam and meander away from where it was headed at the beginning. It has some info about Laura in real life and a lot about obscure bits of the book and out of the way sites, but this is really about one person and her interaction with the text.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Love it

    Im only nine and i enjoyed these books when i was very young love them

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2011

    So-so, but made for an enjoyable book club discussion

    I was a little underwhelmed by this book, however it was fun to discuss with the other ladies in my bookclub. I definitely wanted to finish the book, but it wasn't what I expected from reading the description. I did enjoy the author's unique writing style (very personable). I found the first half of the book sort of nerve-wracking to read because the author is *so* obsessed that it comes off as manic and just downright stressful. The second half of the book lost that manic feel though, and was more enjoyable to read.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Crazy about it .

    I love the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE movies!!!!! So I knew I'd like this. I'm absulotley crazy about it. My dad has all the LITTLE HOUSE movies. Except we don't have season 4 @10. Which has my favorite movies . I love The Waltons . KAMI COLTER is my role model. I love her beatiful red hair!!!! Most people think I'm a freak . But I don't. By the way I'm ten.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2012

    Horrible

    I usally like lauraa ingalls but this book needs work it is not very good not worth buying

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2011

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!

    I loved this book! There are a lot of funny

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2011

    Recommended

    Great Book!!!

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2012

    Loved it!

    Like the author I loved the Little House books and reading about her journey through "Laura's World" was fun and somehow nostalgic and at times touching.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    Love Little House! :D <3

    I love Little House on the Prairie. Its a great show nd stuff, tho ive nvr read the books. Maybe i will. Ive nvr read this book either, tho i dont think i will. Anyway, love Little House. Its great!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Sample

    Dont get the sample they start the story and it is only 4 pages long......

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    Not bad

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews

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