The Ghost In The Little House

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Suggestion Saturday makes its triumphant return to the blog this week, with a book that was suggested by iv.

Today I learned a very important lesson about checking to see how long the book for the day is before sitting down to read it. I was under the impression that it was a short book, so I didn't even start reading the book until 4:30 in the afternoon (cause I'm a go-getter.) And that's when I discovered that the book is almost 400 pages long - so today I learned just how quickly I can read a long book. My average is a page a minute, but today I managed to read a page and a half a minute - which naturally led me to imagine just how much I could done during the day if I wasn't always flaking off. I have vowed that I will get tomorrows book read much faster than I have been lately. I may even try to get the blog entry up before midnight. It could happen - it's plausible - not likely, but plausible just the same.

Today's book,"Fans of the "Little House on the Prairie" series, which fictionalizes the life of the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, may be disappointed to discover that her works were actually ghostwritten by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane (1886-1968). Thus asserts this well-researched study by Holtz. Rose was a precocious girl with a flair for writing who found her mother to be puritanical and critical. This biography details Rose's forays into the world as she attempted to launch her own writing career. She experienced limited commercial success but often found herself financially and emotionally strained, especially in view of the demands of her parents. Rose injected her own populist ideas into her mother's work as she crafted her mother's rudimentary writings into the readable books that are still popular today. The tenuous relationship between mother and daughter offers additional interest in this book."

Shallow thoughts:

  • I have known about the Little House ghostwriting scandal for quite some time now - although I must admit, I was reluctant to believe it at first. I attempted to read some of Laura's pre-Little House columns as well as several of Rose's novels in what I told myself was an attempt at search for clues, but was really an attempt to prove what a great big liar Rose was. As it turns out, I may have been a little hasty in my original opinion of Rose. I wasn't too far off though, because it seems that Rose was a bit of a liar - but, oops, it turns out so was Laura. This book definitely paints a less than flattering portrait of both women. Laura comes off as a dishonest, controlling, martyr - and Rose as a dishonest, unbalanced, depressive. But hey, everyone's got problems, right?

  • I actually weirdly enjoyed the passive-aggressive, back-stabbing, catfights that Rose and Laura engaged in - mainly because literary catfights are so rare. And I think that needs to change - why should rock stars and actors get to have all the fun? I think today's authors should spend less time trying to write important pieces of literature and more time engaging in hostile exchanges in the mailbox section of Book magazine. But Laura and Rose didn't have Book magazine at their disposal - which is just a crying shame because they could have been the Candy and Tori Spelling of the literary world - although in reverse, with Laura being the spoiled brat who expects someone else to support her whiny, ungrateful butt and Rose playing the part of a crazy person off their meds. So they relied on dealing with their differences the way mothers and daughters have handled their problems for centuries, by desperately trying to be nice to each other in person and then complaining about one another to anyone who would stand still long enough to listen.

  • If you intend to read this book for yourself, and you want to unravel the mystery on your own, then skip this next part. The conclusion I have come to after reading this book is that both Laura and Rose exaggerated their own involvement, and underplayed the others contribution (boring, I know, I like there to be a clear villain at the end of a mystery.) In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter who wrote the majority of the Little House books - in fact, I'm kind of amazed by the way that none of Laura's pre-Little House columns (written without Rose's help) and Rose's pre and post-Little House novels (written without any input from Laura) were all that interesting - and yet, together they were able to achieve something magical.