Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Trying to keep an open mind

I finally purchased The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane by William Holtz. I had wanted to buy it years ago, but I knew I wasn't yet ready to approach it with an open mind.

I am only 60 pages into this nearly 400-page biography of what seems to be a complex and interesting character. As the reviews on the back suggest, Holtz's biography of Lane attempts to prove Rose Wilder Lane was the co-author of the famous Little House books along with her mother Laura Ingalls Wilder. My deep love for the Little House series and Wilder's other writings is what kept me from purchasing Holtz's book until now.

As the title of this post indicates my intention is to keep an open mind as I read this book, but not even 100 pages into it, I am already struggling. Holtz has made the Wilders out to be less than adequate parents and Rose Wilder Lane is portrayed as a precocious child who understood things way beyond her years. Even the quotes by Rose which appear underneath each chapter's title are carefully selected to make Rose out to seem like the victim of her circumstances.

Chapter 1 - "I hated everything and everybody in my childhood..."
Chapter 2 - "Influences: 1 - 16: no affection, poverty, inferiority"
Chapter 4 - "The worst thing about life is the necessity of trying to do something with it."

There are non-derogatory quotes by Lane for other chapters, but none that I consider inspiring or uplifting. It seems Holtz felt sympathy would influence the reader, thus swaying her into believing Lane was the co-author of the Little House books along with her mother. Perhaps Lane did offer her mother more than editorial advice. I have 300 plus pages to figure it out.

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Anonymous Mary M-L said...

Hi Cheryl - This is Mary from Worcester. When I recently discovered LHOTP's web presence, I was so shocked to learn of about these different "theories" about the origins of the books that I had loved so much as a child. Have you seen this website: http://roomofbensown.net/lhotp/? It lists 50+ articles on LIW's books. Some of the titles are pretty interesting.

Leave it to academics to ruin a good thing! (I should know, I work at a college).

I'll be curious to hear what you think of the rest of the book.

BTW, I really like your writing style. It's very engaging!

10:09 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for taking the time to post here. I haven't seen the site you mentioned, but I am going to check it out when I have the time.

I'm glad you find my writing style engaging. I try not to write above the reader, which I feel Holtz has done in his Rose Wilder Lane biography.

Even though I still don't buy Holtz's theory that Rose is the co-author of the Little House books, I am finding the chapters about Rose's travels much better than those surrounding her growing up in De Smet and Mansfield. He spends his time talking about what Rose experienced instead of bashing her parents.

I'll post more about "Ghost in the Little House" when I finish with my Fast Draft program - see today's entry for details.

Thanks again for posting here. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


4:45 PM  

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