Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

I loved the Little House books as a kid (the TV show was another matter - it strayed too far from the script and was cloyingly maudlin so it became my first hate-watch show).  I've re-read them a few times as an adult and while I now cringe at parts, I still enjoy them.  Caroline: Little House, Revisited, as the title says, tells Little House on the Prairie from Caroline Ingalls's point of view.  Laura backtracked when writing her novels (the family moved from Wisconsin to Kansas in 1870, and then back to Kansas a little over a year later), in part because she didn't plan Little House in the Big Woods as part of a series and in part because her publisher didn't trust a three-year-old protagonist.

Ma was always stoic in the Little House books; not exactly cheerful but considering gloom as improper as boisterousness.  She was the anchor, the practical woman who anchored her wanderlust-stricken husband.  She came from a stoic era, but she'd also spent much of her child in deep poverty after the death of her father.  That colors the internal monologue that makes up most of Caroline.  Where Charles always sees the possibilities of life, Caroline anticipates problems. And yet she follows him, joins in his dream, separating from family and a comfortable life to spend weeks tracking across the endless prairie with nothing to distract her (I can't even handle a half-hour car ride without a book; Caroline went months without reading materials) and to give birth nearly alone (Carrie was born in Kansas, and Mrs. Scott who lived 3 miles away acted as midwife).  There's less action in Caroline than in the Little House books, but more fear because an adult can anticipate death (by drowning, due to malaria, or under the logs meant to build shelter).  It's quieter and more reflective, and while good, perhaps not quite as memorable.

No comments:

Post a Comment