79: The First Four Years

More cold equals finishing the ‘Little House’ series!

If “These Happy Golden Years” showed the romance and simplicity of the times, The First Four Years give a harsh look at the difficulties of life at the time, particularly for farmers.

In the notes at the back of the book it says that Wilder wrote the book only in sketch form in a series of notebooks, but after the death of her husband of 63 years she never went back to polish the book.  That lack of polish shows in the writing.  The book is rough and fairly depressing.

What an awful time to be a farmer.  Hard work didn’t necessarily pay off as the weather and prairie life were so fickle.  Laura and Almanzo have more than their share of hard times and it’s hard to imagine living such a hard life.  While their courtship was romantic and optimistic, the reality of the first year of their marriage – illness, losing a child, house fire, losing many crops, and mounting debt – was difficult.  Yet, they did survive it all somehow.

As an adult, I’d love to know more about Laura’s life after this book.  How did she feel about only having one child?  What was their life like when they moved to Missouri?

I was awake reading this book in the middle of the night during my cold and it was a good dose of perspective when I started feeling sorry for myself/overwhelmed by my circumstances.  Sometimes life really is hard.  Hopefully it will get better!


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