When I was in junior high, I loved nothing more than to come home from school and decompress by watching the western drama television show, Little House on the Prairie (don’t judge me I was a weird kid, okay?)
As I have gotten older, I’ve caught the show here and there, but have never had the incline of reading the novelization. All that changed when I found out that Sarah Miller was releasing a novel about the Ingalls matriarch, Caroline.
I received Caroline: Little House, Revisted in exchange for an honest review, via TLC Book Tours. With that in mind, lets get into the review, shall we?
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Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller
Publisher: William Morrow (September 19, 2017)
Print Length: 368 pages
Audiobook Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
Narrator: Elizabeth Marvel
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.
Caroline: Little House, Revisited, showcases Sarah Miller’s ability to once again take a well known piece of history and transform it with mesmerizing detail and brilliant characterization.
Caroline: Little House, Revisited reworks the beloved characters from the ‘Little House’ book series and chooses to present the events from Caroline ‘Ma’ Ingalls’ perspective to shed new light on a famed story.
While Miller did a lot of things right when bringing Caroline ‘Ma’ Ingalls there were a few issues I had when reading Caroline, Little House Revisited. First thing was the pacing. There was quite a bit of detail included, which made the book drag on a bit. The first half of the book focuses on the Ingalls’ trek from Wisconsin to Kansas, which meant a lot of focus on landscape, and of Caroline’s personal attachment to said landscape. However, while I personally struggled with it I understand why Miller chose to include all the details she did, it gave Caroline a chance to weave her personality into the narrative. The other issue I had, which was of no fault to Miller, is that I don’t really remember too much backstory to the Ingalls clan. I remember catching episodes of Little House on the Prairie but don’t remember concrete detail. As such I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had revisited the series or read up on the real Ingalls’ journey through America.
With that said, Miller has amazing characterization. I was a tad worried about reading from Caroline’s perspective as I was under some unfounded impression that Miller was going to present the stereotypical mother figure. And yet, Miller was able to take this young mother and give her both personality and purpose. Caroline is much more than just the wife of Charles, and the mother of Mary, Laura, and Carrie, and Miller understands that. She has thoughts and feelings of her own, that don’t line up with that of her husband, though she usually doesn’t act on them. I also really enjoyed seeing Caroline character progression. At first she was rather reluctant to pick up her family and move from Wisconsin to Kansas. And yet, by the end of the book she made the most of a bad situation and eventually came to love her home, and her quirky cast on neighbors, which made leaving Kansas hard. Miller didn’t shy away from presenting motherhood and all that comes along with it as physically and emotionally demanding. Especially for a woman at that time I thought that every choice Caroline made allowed for her and her family a better chance in a rather unforgiving world.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller. Have any historical fiction recommendations? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.