July 27, 2004

Free Land, by Rose Wilder Lane

Rose Wilder Lane is the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House books fame. She also wrote books about homesteading in the Dakotas which are now reprinted by The University of Nebraska Press under the Bison Books logo. And if I remember correctly there was a short lived TV series in the 70's or early 80's based upon this book.

Anyone who is familiar with the Little House books will find much that is similar in this book. David Beaton and his new bride, Mary, take up the government on the offer of free land in the west. The story is of their first five years homesteading 300 acres of land, living in a sod hut, surviving tornados and blizzards and childbirth. It's a compelling story. It's much grimmer than Laura's telling of the same events in the Little House books. Mary gets tired and cranky. There is often not enough food. Cabin fever is a problem in winter. Children freeze in blizzards. Horses are stolen. And yet there is satisfaction in surviving and finally beginning to prosper. David and Mary stick together as a team similar to the matched Morgans that David is so proud of. It's also just a good, clean adventure story written for adults but eminently suitable for young folks. If you can find it, it's worth reading if only to remind you to be grateful for your washing machine and indoor plumbing.

Posted by Deb English at July 27, 2004 06:12 PM