I'm posting August's book of the month early because we're heading off to Cape Cod on August 8th. Donald Zochert's, Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder is the first biography I ever read about Laura and her family.
While dry from a writing perspective, it remains, to me, one of the best non-fiction accounts of Wilder's life from The Big Woods of Wisconsin to the years she shares with Almanzo and culminating with her death.
What I truly enjoy about Zochert's Laura is that it opens with a mention of Laura and The Big Woods, but then moves back in time to provide a history of the Ingalls and Quiner families. Zochert also gives the reader a brief glimpse into Almanzo's childhood; but since he is a man and Laura a young woman by the time Almanzo is introduced, not much of Almanzo's life before living in De Smet, SD is written about.
Laura Ingalls Wilder enthusiasts will recognize many of the names mentioned in this book: Reverend Edwin Alden, LaFayette Bedal, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boast, Ida Brown, Mr. Edwards, Edward (Cap) Garland, Mr. Hanson, Genevieve Masters, Nellie Owens, and many Ingalls and Quiner relatives. You read of the "years of sunshine and shadow" as Laura and Almanzo almost die of diphtheria and then Almanzo suffers a stroke--which forever takes away his strength; the loss of their baby boy in 1889, who lives only twelve days and is buried without a name; and the kitchen fire that burns their house to the ground.
But there will be happy times at Rocky Ridge Farm: Laura writing articles for the Missouri Ruralist, the prosperity of the farm, the success of their daughter Rose, and the popularity of the Little House books--which have forever emblazoned the names of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family on many hearts. Readers will also find several appendices with important dates, information on all the Little Houses, and a discussion on the truth of the Little House books.
To end this feature of Donald Zochert's Laura, I will share Zochert's final words from this biography of a woman who changed the face of children's literature forever, and who continues to gain new fans all over the world every day:
"Laura closed her eyes. Now is now. She wished they could go on and on, forever."