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Books Read in 2018: ‘Caroline: Little House Revisited’ (2 stars)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Caroline: Little House, Revisited
by Sarah Miller
Audiobook narrated by Elizabeth Marvel
Genre: Historical Fiction
My rating: 2 stars

Book Summary:
In this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.

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.

My GR Status Update(s):
12/30. . .Started Reading
01/02. . .Finished Reading

My Review:
2 stars

At about a quarter of the way through, I posted this update:
While interesting, for the most part, the prose is weighed down with overwrought metaphorical language, and the author seems more focused on tedious minutiae like chamber pails and who has to go to the bathroom when rather than what should be the driving force of this book, which is retelling the events of Little House from Ma’s viewpoint.

I understand from reading others’ reviews that they found the writing style “poetic”; I found it distracting. Every time this overworked language was used, it pulled me out of (what little story was in) the book as I did the mental gymnastics to parse the unusual imagery/metaphors out into something more natural and simple, as would befit a retelling of something in the Little House series. With as long as this book was (almost 14 hours in the audio format), I thought it would cover several, if not all, of the books in Wilder’s original series. No. It covers only the events of the second volume, Little House on the Prairie, when the family move from the Big Woods of Minnesota to Indian Territory in Kansas.

There were a few scenes that raised a little bit of tension (e.g., crossing the lake and the rain storm in the first 25% of the book)—until they went on far too long. And that was the biggest problem with this book. Scenes dragged on and on and on (again, focused on minutiae unimportant to the forward progression of the story) and a good 80 to 85% of the narrative took place inside Caroline’s head.

Then, there were the attempts at bringing adult-level sensuality into the story in the relationship between Caroline and Charles. The flashback to their wedding night was completely unnecessary (and icky) as were most of the scenes between them that were supposed to be romantic. (It’s a lot like thinking about your parents or grandparents being intimate—you just don’t want to think about it.

I’m really happy I chose to borrow this from the library before I decided to purchase it to add to my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection, because it’s not worthy of being included on the shelf of honor.

My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR = DNF (did not finish)

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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