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

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

by Wendy McClure

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594485688
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 519,981
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Wendy McClure has been writing about her obsessions for nearly a decade, both online and in print. She is the author of the 2005 memoir I’m Not the New Me and a columnist for BUST magazine, and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine and This American Life. She works as a children’s book editor and lives in Chicago with her husband.

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

What People are Saying About This

Alison Arngrim

"A howlingly funny, historically thorough and irresistibly mad trip down the rabbit hole of the Laura Ingalls-Little House obsession that has consumed an entire generation of women. I spent seven years on the prairie and this book made me want to run out and buy a butter churn! Mandatory reading for all “bonnetheads” - and the people who love them!" --( Alison Arngrim, TV's Nellie Oleson and New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of A Prairie Bitch)

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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 137 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
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.
MattCH More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Doreen McKenna More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love little house books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fresh and enlightening! A must read for any Little House fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the julia child book/movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im only nine and i enjoyed these books when i was very young love them
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friends, and I, loved the Little House on the Prairie books and the show.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
knitgeisha on LibraryThing 21 days ago
I loved the Little House books as a child so when I read the synopsis of this book I couldn't wait to read it. Unfortunately, I just didn't like it at all. I had a hard time connecting with the author and the story seemed to jump around with no rhyme or reason.
Florinda on LibraryThing 21 days ago
My particular youthful literary obsession wasn¿t Laura Ingalls Wilder, although I did read all of the Little House books at least once and watch the first few seasons of the TV series they inspired (in first run - I was 10 years old, prime Little House-reading age, when the show debuted in 1974); mine was Louisa May Alcott. Nevertheless, I can relate to Wendy McClure¿s girlhood immersion in what she came to call ¿Laura World,¿ and I¿m rather relieved to discover that I wasn¿t the only avid young reader whose favorite literary characters became regular residents of her inner life.While her devotion to the Laura legend fades as she enters adolescence, Wendy rediscovers her love for the books when she unexpectedly comes across her old set while packing up her parents¿ house, and reading them again as an adult inspires her to learn more about the woman who wrote them. The Little House books are fictionalized memoir, with some disagreement over exactly how fictionalized they are; despite any controversy there, their vivid descriptions of frontier life and depictions of a ¿simpler¿ time have given them new popularity among home-schooling families.Seeking a better understanding of who Laura really was, and why so many people embrace her story as they do - as well as something else she really can¿t define - Wendy decides to explore Laura World beyond the books, testing recipes from The Little House Cookbook, teaching herself to churn butter, and making plans to visit the various places Laura and her family lived. As Wendy takes readers - and her very supportive boyfriend, Chris - along on her odyssey, she recaps the Ingalls/Wilder family saga, discusses the various points of contention between the stories and various biographies, and shares her impressions of the people and places that comprise what remains of Laura World today. The writing is reflective, revealing, engaging, and often very funny. The Wilder Life will particularly resonate with any reader who has engaged in a long-term literary or cultural obsession of her or his own (which I suspect covers quite a few of us), and I¿m glad I took this trip with Wendy McClure.
BookAngel_a on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Wendy McClure was obsessed with the Little House books as a child. She read and re-read the entire series, and had much of it memorized. Many years later, as an adult, she stumbles upon the set of books again. She reads them again and decides to learn as much as possible about the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.She travels to all of the historic Ingalls Wilder sites ¿ each of their known home sites and museums across the country. She also attempts to ¿rough it¿, staying in a covered wagon overnight (in a hailstorm!) and learns how to churn her own butter. She even persuades her boyfriend to read the books and brings him along on her adventures. As she travels, she also reads all the books she can about the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, sharing her learning with the reader.I loved the Little House books when I was a child, and I enjoyed learning more about the real woman behind the books. I had heard that the books were fictionalized, but I never realized how much was changed and omitted in the books and the TV series, until now. I loved Wendy¿s personality ¿ she¿s funny and real and her voice is strong in this book. She learned a few things about herself on this Little House journey, but refreshingly, she didn¿t overshare. She made sure that this book wasn¿t all about her ¿ it¿s about Laura Ingalls Wilder and family. Readers will appreciate that.I would recommend this book to anyone who loved Little House books while growing up, or to anyone who enjoys reconnecting with books they loved as a child.
LaurenMJenkins on LibraryThing 21 days ago
This won't be for everyone, but it was like crack to a "Little House" nerd like myself, or anyone else who dressed as Laura Ingalls Wilder for Halloween as a child. I enjoyed it very much.
Twink on LibraryThing 21 days ago
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.
cemming on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Even for those of us who loved the Little House books as children, author Wendy McClure's adoration may seem rabid, bordering on a type of fanaticism that precludes a hospital stay. Just in an endearing, slavering-puppy type of way. McClure and Laura were, after all, imaginary best friends.Like the rest of us fans, McClure imagined herself in hoop skirts and bonnets, writing on slate and meandering through prairies alongside the Ingalls family. Unlike most of us, however, McClure brings her childhood fantasies to life, dragging them bodily into the twenty-first century and seeming disappointed when the magic disappears. While The Wilder Life seems a precariously thin thread for an entire novel, it's an entertaining read. In fact, if you're the least bit curious to ride the line of fact and fiction that are the Little House books, McClure's the tour guide of your dreams. Tag along as McClure treks to "historical" sites and attempts revive the good old-fashioned wilderness life with humor, including a turn at butter churning.
amanderson on LibraryThing 21 days ago
A curious book, not quite what I had expected. The author, a thirty-something, was a true fan as a child of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, The Little House on the Prairie series. She has what I found to be a humorous, wry, enthusiastic, engaging style of writing. After her mom passes away, she takes on a sort of quest to trace Wilder's life, as written about both in the novels and Wilder's memoirs, and in biographies of her. McClure immerses herself in all things Laura, and she and her charming and supportive husband Chris travel around to visit the former and many homesteads where Wilder lived. She discovers a whole world of Laura enthusiasts of different stripes, including fans of the tv show, and muses about the appeal of the Laura books to different people. Some are homesteaders of the apocalypse-is-coming types, some are homeschooling back-to-the-landers, some are just taking family trips on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Highway and stopping at the historic places to enjoy the Laura-themed town pageants, pioneer and literary museums. Finally, in the poignant last chapter, the author ties the irresolute ends of her wistful journey together again when she reflects on her mother's childhood and her own.I was thinking it would be more along the lines of the author trying her hand at living like Laura did, and while she does try a few things, like butterchurning, there aren't really any detais. This is a literary journey with reflections on pioneer history and some quite interesting details about the Wilders family and Laura's intrepid, Libertarian daughter Rose. I recall reading the books, but I was never an enthusiast (fantasy and horse stores were my bag), and while I enjoyed the book I would imagine a real Laura fan would enjoy it much more.
debnance on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Wendy McClure loves Little House on the Prairie. And I mean loves. And don¿t misunderstand me. It¿s not Little House on the Prairie the tv series. She loves Little House on the Prairie the book series.Apparently she is not alone. There is a whole world out there of people who delight in all things Little House. So McClure sets off on a quest to experience the full Wilder Life, visiting homesites of Little House major and minor characters, cooking food from the Little House books, even attempting to churn butter.Along the way, McClure examines why Little House is so important to her. Her thoughts about the whys and experiences in the hows make for a very good story.
SquirrelHead on LibraryThing 21 days ago
It felt more like reading a blog about Laura Ingalls and the Little House journey rather than a non-fiction book you could get your teeth into. Does that make any sense? I just didn¿t get into this book as I hoped. The writing was stream of consciousness and jumped around on subjects. Also, the author is rather dismissive of the television series and that seems to bleed over in her opinion of the show¿s fans. I had hoped for more detail on the food she prepared and more description. For a positive comment I will say I love the idea of Wendy making a trip to explore the Little House culture, walking around the land where the real Laura lived. Couldn't recommend it...even to a Little House fan.
camembert on LibraryThing 21 days ago
The author Wendy McClure rediscovers the little house of the prairie series as her parents are moving and her mother's health is failing. I rediscovered the series myself last summer, so when I heard about Wendy McClure's novel The Wilder Years I had to read it. The Wilder Years chronicles the authors new(old) obsession with the books with a series of trips and adventures. Wendy is a enjoyable writer and it was fun to read about making butter and her travels to the old sod house et all, although sometimes there seems to be a melancholic tone to these trips. There are a few points where the writer flailed around a bit i.e. the chapters on Rose Wilder and Nellie Olson but the chapter on the "end times" more than made up for it. This book is worth reading if you are already a fan of the little house on the prairie books.
asomers on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Everyone has one of those friends that tells the best stories. They add just the right amount of details to make pique your interest but not enough to bore you. They add just the right amount of humor to make you laugh without being silly. At parties, they are the one that everyone gravitates to becuase you know they are going to entatain you. Reading Ms. Mclure's work is just like sitting down to listen to that friend. She has an easy comfortable style that invites you to sit for a while and enjoy her story and I did!
PensiveCat on LibraryThing 21 days ago
For all the Little House fans out there, particularly the book fans: haven't you always wanted to either be Laura or be her friend? Wendy McClure does this in her own way, with a very supportive partner and a sense of humor. I'm glad she did this, because now instead of hitting all these spots in Kansas, Minnesota, etc. I can do it vicariously through her. Now I've started the Little House books all over again, armed with all the inside information about the size of the big woods, who Nellie Oleson was comprised of, churning butter the ebay way, and the wonderful world of survivalism. The jury's still out on how I feel about Rose Wlder Lane...