Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review - Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Book Synopsis

In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.

The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
Like most young girls, I grew up with Little House on the Prairie.  First came the books, checked out time and again from the little local library.  Then there was the TV series.  I loved everything about Little House, and this love of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder has endured into my adulthood.  I still listen to three Little House podcasts and read everything I can find that is related to this series.

So of course I wanted to read Caroline.  From the first description of this book, I anticipated reading it.  And I have to say the book far exceeded my expectations.  It is amazing!

Caroline tells the Little House story from the perspective of Laura Ingalls Wilder's mother, Caroline.  When we first glimpse Caroline in this novel, she is a young wife and mother living in Wisconsin with her beloved husband Charles and her little girls, Mary and Laura.  She is pregnant with her third child when Charles tells her he wants to move to Kansas.

Caroline bravely puts aside her personal feelings and travels across the country in a covered wagon.  The descriptions of the journey are so vivid and detailed.  I could visualize everything from the storytelling.

I will admit that I grew up focusing on Laura's story, and had not thought as much about what this journey and pioneer life meant to Caroline.  I am so glad that Sarah Miller masterfully brought her story to life here.  I found Caroline so remarkable as she left her relatives and friends behind and braved this long trip despite being pregnant.   I admired her resourcefulness and her loving care of her children.  I also loved her relationship with Charles!

The writing in this book is absolutely beautiful. Sarah Miller writes about the journey:

"The West was a song Charles wanted a hand in composing" (eBook loc. 100).

She also adds about Laura:

"Like her pa, all of Laura's visions of the West had begun with the journey, not the departure" (eBook loc. 353-54).

One more example of the beautiful writing in this book is seen when Caroline soothes the girls en route:

"Under her fingers, Laura's pulse had slowly quieted into a beat of feathery kisses.  Caroline drew up her knees, making a nest of herself.  Laura was too big now to fit inside it as she once had, but her breath, still tinted with maple sugar, filled the small spaces between them" (eBook loc. 821-23).

I have to add that the historical details in this book were fascinating.  I enjoyed details like reading how Caroline cooked over a fire when the family was traveling cross country.  The food descriptions were also very interesting, and I was very struck by how grateful the Ingalls family was for such simple things.  This was one of the things that stuck with me most from Caroline's story.

Caroline will surely be one of my favorite reads of the year, and I recommend it highly for anyone who loves children's literature, historical fiction, and especially for other Little House on the Prairie fans.

Author Bio
Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as “a historical version of Law & Order.” She lives in Michigan.

Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tour.

1 comment:

trish said...

I'm always so pleased when an author can get something like this just spot on.

Thank you for being on this tour!