I am super excited to introduce the newly designed Greenish Bookshelf! It is definitely still a work in progress but I am thrilled with the new look so far.
I am also excited to review These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder today. I remember really loving this book as a child. The title is perfect–it really is about happy years and happy memories. This book is my favorite of the series. I love the sweet stories of Laura and Almanzo’s courtship.
- Like the other books in this series, this novel reads quickly and easily. Definitely a great book for the budding reader or to be read out loud.
- Finally the Ingalls family has some financial stability! I love the descriptions of their home, farm and the organ! It’s refreshing to see them successful and settled.
- Children grew up so much faster back then. Laura is only 16 when she starts teaching school. And she and Almanzo maturely discuss marriage and are married when she is only 18. I am impressed by their maturity and wisdom.
- Also, can we talk for just a moment about the lovely fashion in this book? Laura is such a beauty with her new clothes and ostrich-plumed hats.
These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder continues the story of Laura Ingalls. She begins teaching school for the first time 12 miles form her home. Surprisingly, Almanzo Wilder comes to drive Laura home every weekend through the cold winter. Their relationship continues to blossom over the coming years through sleigh rides, buggy rides, singing school, and breaking in new colts. Laura teaches several more schools and her family continue to brighten their homestead with new rooms, livestock, and visits from Mary from college. Finally, Almanzo proposes to Laura, and they begin planning their life together. Can they have the wedding they both want? And will their different upbringings allow them to find happiness together?
Laura grows more and more inspirational as a main character. I am impressed by how loyal she is to her family, especially her parents. For example, Laura doesn’t even really want to teach school. But she does so she can be paid and then help support Mary at college. Although, I don’t know if I could survive boarding with depressed and malicious Mrs Brewster. Not many 16 year olds that I know would work so hard and then give up all their earnings. I also appreciate how Laura discovers how much she loves being home and how much she hates change. I can definitely relate to those sorts of feelings. It’s still hard to say goodbye to my mom after a fun visit! What makes Laura the most endearing in this book is her naivety towards Almanzo. She doesn’t see that he is so attentive to her because he loves her for so many chapters–she seems to just like riding behind his nice horses. But then she surprises us again with her loyalty and wisdom at choosing Almanzo.
Almanzo continues to impress me with his kindness and charity. Yes, he likes Laura and wants to spend more time with her. But it’s a sacrifice to drive 12 miles in the winter to pick her up from school. Or to travel back from Minnesota in a Christmas Eve snowstorm to surprise Laura for Christmas. He is very aware of others and wants to make the people he loves happy. Those are admirable qualities. And while he is a man of few words (at least in the later novels), the words he does use in this book melt my heart.
“I was wondering if you would like an engagement ring.”
“That would depend on who offered it to me,” Laura told him.
“If I should?” Almanzo asked.
“Then it would depend on the ring.” Laura answered.
These Happy Golden Years, page 214
The love story in this book is simple, under-passionate, and very sweet. I had forgotten what it’s like to have a love story that’s simply a love story–without the love triangles or late night fights or passionate kisses. This love story is simple. It’s about two people who want to spend their lives together and work hard together. It’s beautiful.
In fact, Laura and Almanzo’s love story is secondary to Laura’s personal journey. She is transitioning from being a school girl to being a married woman. We see her teach school, sew for pay, do her hair in the latest fashions, and talk more grown up. Almanzo gets to be a part of that journey. What amazes me is that the age difference between Almanzo and Laura seems almost nonexistent. They seem to fit so well together, and I enjoy reading the moments that they get to spend together.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by how little is actually said about their courtship and and how little actually happens on their wedding day. I would have loved to hear them both said “I love you.” It was implied numerous times but never said out loud. And I thought their wedding was a bit sad. Not even Laura’s parents came! It was not a big celebration or even much of a special day. It surprised me how different their wedding is from weddings of today, from my own wedding. Today we focus so much on the details and grandeur of the actual day. For Laura and Almanzo, it was about every day after the wedding. It was about their new home (with that amazing pantry!), their land, their life together. I thin kmuch can be learned from turning our focuses to similar things.
As always, this Little House book is full of great wisdom about life:
“She had not known before that it takes two to make a smile.”
“Maybe everything comes out all right, if you keep on trying. Anyway, you have to keep on trying; nothing will come out right if you don’t.”
“Busy hands are a great help to being cheerful.”
These Happy Golden Years, pages 23, 42, and
I love how Almanzo becomes so important to Laura. This quote is a favorite in her conversations with Mary.
“Laura,” Mary asked soberly. “Do you really want to leave home to marry that Wilder boy?”
Laura was serious too, “He isn’t that wilder boy anymore, Mary. He is Almanzo.”
….”We just seem to belong together.”
These Happy Golden Years, page 246
I love the Little House books because they remind me of a forgotten time when life was simple. They focus on the important things in life–health, family, and happiness. They teach that hard work will get you further in life than idleness. They teach good morals about putting family first, respecting your elders, being a good student and friend, and more. Definitely books I want to read to my children when they are older!
Which is your favorite Little House book?
This post is part of the Little House Read Along hosted by Bex @ An Armchair by the Sea and Lynn @ Smoke and Mirrors. Each month, we read and review one of the Little House books. More info about the read along can be found through the links above. Check it out with the read along hashtag (#LittleHouseRAL) and join us anytime!