Title: These Happy Golden Years
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Series: Little House, book 8
Major Themes: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pioneer Life, Prairies, South Dakota, Family Read-alouds, Historical Fiction, US History 1865-1900
Synopsis: For several years, Almanzo courts Laura, although she doesn’t realize it for a long time, and she works with her family to make a living and keep Mary in school.
I’ve always enjoyed These Happy Golden Years. It is so funny to see Laura being courted by Almanzo and wondering for the longest time why he kept coming around! I also love the way she worked so hard to keep Mary in school. She didn’t want to teach, but it was the best way for her to make money, so she did it. She was good at sewing, so she worked hard to earn money that way, even though she would rather have been at home on the claim. Laura is a good example—and I was impressed with the way Pa and Ma did without things rather than borrow money. There are a lot of good lessons in this book.
The story begins with Laura heading off to her first teaching job in a tiny settlement 12 miles from home, in the middle of winter. She soon realizes that the family she boards with are unhappy, and the woman takes out her anger on Laura. How can she possibly hold out for eight weeks in a place like this, when she is only 15 and some of her students are older than she is? Relief comes from an unexpected source!
After the teaching job is finished, Laura goes back to work; in the spring the family move out to the claim. She spends the next few years going to school in the winter and helping on the claim or teaching each summer—and for a couple of years she takes a buggy ride with Almanzo every summer Sunday afternoon. Life is as good as it can get! She enjoys her family and cherishes every moment she can spend with Mary when she comes home in the summer.
This is a beautiful account of a happy family working through hardships together and finding joy in the little things. It is a lovely story of sacrifice for the good of others, and it is a lovely, gentle romance with nothing even slightly questionable. It is also a story about the trials of pioneering on the open prairie, where the weather was incredibly harsh. We loved this story!
WARNING: Chapter 3: gee. Chapter 7: a woman threatens to do something she shouldn’t with a butcher knife. Chapter 13: I’ll be durned. Chapter 18: by jinks. Chapter 19: you little devil. Chapter 23: I’ll be durned. Chapter 30: Jerusalem Crickets.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults