Rose is the strong woman her mother taught her to be…

A Wilder RoseA Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I was only made aware of the controversy surrounding the Laura Ingalls Wilder books a year or so ago.
To me it made complete sense that her daughter Rose, who was an acclaimed writer before she returned home to her parents, would take on the task of editing and re-writing the books.
Isn’t that what editors do nowadays? Help to edit and reshape a manuscript? The only difference being that the editor usually doesn’t receive credit for the work and is certainly not listed as a co-author because it isn’t their concept. So I guess the real question is how much influence did Rose have on the stories and in turn that makes the stories more likely to hyped up fictional accounts, as opposed to memoir like tales of Laura and her family.
The author has gone to bat for Rose in this book and I think this attempt at an accolade has been a long time coming.
In the hierarchy of families one of the children will usually end up, as an adult, being the carer or person who makes sure the parents are ok. Rose was the sole living child of Almanzo and Laura, hence the duty fell to her.
Now I understand that many people will think that the grown child doesn’t have to fulfill that obligation as an adult, but I can guarantee you that in the majority of families there will be one person who does feel they have to. Of course in that case it means you leave your own dreams aside and perhaps have to alter your life to accommodate the elderly parents. So I can understand the frustration in Rose. The feeling of being caged with no choice or escape, despite loving her parents very much. That feeling would probably have been enhanced by the anxiety and despair during the Great Depression.
It is a great pity that Rose didn’t receive any recognition for her contributions and if she did indeed create instead of just edit and clean up the manuscripts then she must have been a far stronger person than people believed. Why? Because if she did co-author she let her mother take all the praise and she let her shine.
Personally I think it was a very good marketing strategy. What better way to sell nostalgic books about a little girl growing up during the pioneer times than to have them penned by a true pioneer girl. It was like reality TV in book version.
Rose knew what would sell and how to sell them to the public.
This story depicts the social and economic history of that time and the impact it had on the people. It was interesting to read the many parallels to today’s economic crisis and although the hardships are none in comparison to the earlier era they do echo them in a very similar way.
The author also gives us a view into the complex mother-daughter relationship between Laura and Rose. I think every mother and daughter relationship is unique and complicated in its own way. The fact that both women were very alike in temperament and character would explain how they both perceived the other as domineering. Laura was a strong woman formed by her childhood in the midst of the pioneer era and Rose was the product of that strong woman.
Overall I think this meticulously researched book will be of interest to fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and series.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

View all my reviews

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