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Laura Ingalls Wilder fans: A letter from Rose to Laura


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Thanks for posting! I find all things LIW fascinating.

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It's fascinating to see how much influence Rose had on the LIW books.

I would love to hear Rose's thoughts on "The Long Winter".

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I never read these books until the age of 25, when a friend from out west introduced me. I want the series for myself SO BAD. Can't bring myself to buy it on Amazon tho...

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The complete glossing over of the threat of sexual assault got me. It's briefly alluded to with the boarders in Silver Lake, and I understand the market was children, but Rose completely gaslights her mom!

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The complete glossing over of the threat of sexual assault got me. It's briefly alluded to with the boarders in Silver Lake, and I understand the market was children, but Rose completely gaslights her mom!

It got to me too! The audience for By the Shores of Silver Lake is late elementary school or early middle school. Who knows how many kids would have been helped or felt less alone if LIW had been able to be honest about what happened? I know that Oprah has spoken about feeling so much less alone after reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou when she was growing up. Another woman -another black girl- had been sexually assaulted as a child. She was not the only one! That knowledge was very empowering.

Whatever faults the TV show might have had it did not shy away from the topic of sexual assault. Does anyone remember the episode where Albert's girlfriend Sylvia is raped? Any gets pregnant, too, IIRC.

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It got to me too! The audience for By the Shores of Silver Lake is late elementary school or early middle school. Who knows how many kids would have been helped or felt less alone if LIW had been able to be honest about what happened? I know that Oprah has spoken about feeling so much less alone after reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou when she was growing up. Another woman -another black girl- had been sexually assaulted as a child. She was not the only one! That knowledge was very empowering.

Whatever faults the TV show might have had it did not shy away from the topic of sexual assault. Does anyone remember the episode where Albert's girlfriend Sylvia is raped? Any gets pregnant, too, IIRC.

Sylvia's story always makes me so sad. I always skip those episodes now. Michael Landon sure did have a flair for the dramatic.

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I never read these books until the age of 25, when a friend from out west introduced me. I want the series for myself SO BAD. Can't bring myself to buy it on Amazon tho...

When I was a girl, my mom read the series with me, and eventually I read the series of Rose's childhood. I even had a Little House biography book. It included recipes :D

I also read the books that told the stories of Laura's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

But of course Laura's ordeal was never mentioned.

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The criticisms and reasoning behind them are pretty typical of critique circles, even today, especially in my experience. The bits about fiction needing to make more sense than fact would are still common and relevant critiques that I have both given and received. Of course, it's odd to edit that heavily within a familial relationship, and I don't think I'd be comfortable editing my mother's manuscript and essentially telling her what to do -- but apparently they were comfortable with that, so who is it for me to say it's an issue?

Personally, I'm glad they came down on the side of not playing up the danger in By the Shores of Silver Lake -- I read that in 2nd or 3rd grade, and I wouldn't have been ready to read that sort of thing.

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I remember the Sylvia episode. Ms.Olsen though the baby was Albert's. There was also an episode that addressed child abuse"Child of pain".

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I always hated the Sylvia episode. I thought it was a result of Michael Landon running out of ideas. Was it supposed to be something related to Laura's life?

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I thought it was interesting that Rose said that children "nowadays" - meaning the 1930s - were more sheltered and less mature than children in Laura's time, and therefore couldn't deal with the more adult topics.

Everyone loves to point to Little House on the Prairie as a symbol of a simpler, more innocent time, when Rose saw it as just the opposite. The innocence is a result of Rose's editing in the 1930s and 1940s.

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I always hated the Sylvia episode. I thought it was a result of Michael Landon running out of ideas. Was it supposed to be something related to Laura's life?

I think you're correct. I can't seem to find an event it's linked too and he did admit to adding a lot to the stories. He said he could have kept it historically accurate(according to the books) but he'd only have enough for one good season.

As for Rose, I don't blame her in the slightest for the edits. I had to read multiple books of LIW because it was required in school because of the whole Minnesota part, even though they made us mostly read about Wisconsin :lol:.

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I think you're correct. I can't seem to find an event it's linked too and he did admit to adding a lot to the stories. He said he could have kept it historically accurate(according to the books) but he'd only have enough for one good season.

As for Rose, I don't blame her in the slightest for the edits. I had to read multiple books of LIW because it was required in school because of the whole Minnesota part, even though they made us mostly read about Wisconsin :lol:.

Michael Landon did do some episodes that dealt with Laura's brother who died as a baby and he also had a story arc about them moving to a larger town. I don't know that Burr Oak, Iowa was ever mentioned, but that's the time that these episodes referred to.

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Michael Landon did do some episodes that dealt with Laura's brother who died as a baby and he also had a story arc about them moving to a larger town. I don't know that Burr Oak, Iowa was ever mentioned, but that's the time that these episodes referred to.

Yeah he did, I liked how there were certain episodes that were historically accurate but he only made them last an episode like Freddy, her brother, and her unnamed son. I'm glad he did it that way, because those are impossible for me to watch but it is what happened.

I'm also happy he gave Mary a husband. Going to school for 7 years(in an 8 year span) and then living with Ma and Pa until they die isn't exactly a good story arc.

The one thing that I loved that he didn't cover was Almanzo and Laura sleigh rides. I thought those were so romantic(but I may have read them in a biography and not writing attributed to her.)

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The one thing that I loved that he didn't cover was Almanzo and Laura sleigh rides. I thought those were so romantic(but I may have read them in a biography and not writing attributed to her.)

I thought those were covered in the book where Laura was teaching far away, and Almanzo would come to take her home on the weekends?

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I thought those were covered in the book where Laura was teaching far away, and Almanzo would come to take her home on the weekends?

O so that must have been attributed to her then. I read one biography that stuck close to the books but covered her death and I mix parts up with the books.

I still wish Landon had gotten them in the TV series though. Of course knowing his style maybe he tried to represent them in Sweet Sixteen when Alamonzo drove her to and from home every weekend in a wagon. lol Not nearly as satisfying if you ask me.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I love this! I am waiting very impatiently for The Pioneer Girl Project to be published. Someone is finally typing up and annotating her journals.

http://pioneergirlproject.org/

I have read the Pioneer Girl manuscript, and I can't wait for it to be finally published! The differences between it and the actual Little House books are very interesting.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think you're correct. I can't seem to find an event it's linked too and he did admit to adding a lot to the stories. He said he could have kept it historically accurate(according to the books) but he'd only have enough for one good season.

As for Rose, I don't blame her in the slightest for the edits. I had to read multiple books of LIW because it was required in school because of the whole Minnesota part, even though they made us mostly read about Wisconsin :lol:.

Re: the TV show vs the books, as I understand it (probably from the massive LHOTP thread on the late great TWOP), there was some copyright or contract issue about the rights to film the stories, and Michael Landon only had the rights to use book events during the first season, and after that had to go on to more original storylines. I can't remember the details, though. And dammit, TWOP's forums are totally gone (I'd hoped the stagnant version would stay for a while), and I never wrote down where the LHOTP discussion relocated to - because that was full of fun, and had even more of a keyboard warning than FJ does.

Bought a biography of Rose at the library book sale last week, haven't started it yet but it looks interesting.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Michael Landon may have skipped the sleigh rides because they taped the show in California ;) That's just my guess.

I picked up on the vibe of feeling unsafe when I read Silverlake. I was in high school, IIRC. It was pinging my alarms big time. I don't recall finishing the book.

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Re: the TV show vs the books, as I understand it (probably from the massive LHOTP thread on the late great TWOP), there was some copyright or contract issue about the rights to film the stories, and Michael Landon only had the rights to use book events during the first season, and after that had to go on to more original storylines. I can't remember the details, though. And dammit, TWOP's forums are totally gone (I'd hoped the stagnant version would stay for a while), and I never wrote down where the LHOTP discussion relocated to - because that was full of fun, and had even more of a keyboard warning than FJ does.

Bought a biography of Rose at the library book sale last week, haven't started it yet but it looks interesting.

Then, the books were not entirely non-fiction. It seems ML did pull many things from her real life like the death of her baby brother and the blizzard. These happened passed the first season.

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After seeing the huge difference in the way the First Four Years was written (with at least one vague reference to sex and the death of her son) it was obvious that Rose had done a lot of cleaning up/sanitizing of the story. I can see why they would leave out legal shenanigans of the Boasts and overt references to sexual assault although reading now as an adult I'm kind of disappointed they weren't a bit truer to the realities.

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I fell in love with the series while reading Little House in the Big Woods as a kid, but re-reading the series as an adult, I realized that it was written from the perspective of Laura as a child, and she gets older with each book. In the first book, her parents are almost perfect and Pa is her protector who can do no wrong. Later, you start to see more flaws like debts and some signs of unhappiness from her mother. By The First Four Years, which is written so starkly without Rose's editing, I was totally traumatized.

The problem is that so many people think that the early books reflect the whole truth about that era.

At best, it would be like taking my old childhood photos and stories and thinking that it was a true representation of the 1970s.

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