The First Four Years

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Other authorsGarth Williams (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1971



Local notes

PB Wil


Harper & Row (1971), Edition: 1st, 134 pages


During their first four years of marriage, Laura and Almanzo Wilder have a child and fight a losing battle in their attempts to succeed at farming on the South Dakota prairie.


Original publication date


Physical description

134 p.; 7.5 inches


006440031X / 9780064400312



User reviews

LibraryThing member missbecki
This was always my favorite of the Little House, perhaps because it is so very raw. Wilder never finished editing the story, so it is more like a rough draft. I find, however, that the scenes in this book stand out more in my mind than any of the other books. Perhaps this is because this book was meant for adults, not children, and you can feel the desperation and perseverance in every page. Definitely not a sugar-coated story.… (more)
LibraryThing member MerryMary
The style and rhythm of this book is slightly different from the rest of the series. At her death, Laura left it handwritten and unfinished. It was printed as is, without final revising and polishing. The story of the first years of marriage for Laura and Almanzo is a fitting conclusion to a much loved series, told with love and courage.… (more)
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This book is the last of the "Little House" series, chronicling the first four years of Mrs. Wilder's marriage. Actually, it was an unfinished manuscript that was published over a decade after her death. As such, it reads less like a novel and more like a fleshed out plotline. The previous "Little House" books tend to flow better and tend to carry a sense of optimism about them. "The First Four Years", in contrast, is rather depressing. Whereas in the previous novels, Almanzo Wilder comes across as a capable, resourceful man, in this book he's quite the nebbish, full of unwarranted optimism. Nothing against nebbishes, but I'm wondering why the change. Perhaps if Mrs. Wilder had finished the book, the character would have been more recognizable. Or maybe it's just that we're finally getting a look at the real Almanzo. Who knows? Anyway, if you've made it this far in the series, you'll want to check out "The First Four Years" to see what happens. And then you'll grumble that nobody wrote about the next four years.
… (more)
LibraryThing member rainbowdarling
The last book typically included in the Little House series is the least like the others. As it was never edited, it lacks the polish that the other books have, and is more frank than any of the others about some of the harder aspects of life for the young Wilder family. It deals with drought and hard weather, plagues, disease and debt. Laura and Almanzo deal with a lot in that first four years of their married life, trying to make things thrive on their claim in De Smet four the three year trial of farming (stretched to four for a 'grace' period). Despite some of the positive things that happen for them in this book, this is definitely the saddest of the series. It is good, but not something that I could see myself going back to when I want something sweet and light-hearted.… (more)
LibraryThing member wordygirl39
Rose Wilder Lane (Laura and Almanzo's daughter) cobbled this manuscript together from her mother's notebooks after her death. This is a diary, really, beginning with the wedding we read in These Happy Golden Years to the family's leaving Dakota for Missouri. I hated this book as a child--hated it. I felt cheated out of my happy ending! You see right from the start that though Laura and Almanzo cared for each other, they were just going to have a lot of problems. Many reviewers and historians of pioneer literature have written about the women who took on the frontier and how they, and not the men, were really the strongest players. Laura, like Cather, Jewett, Aldrich, and Rolvaag, shows us in this book the terrible cost of that life and the strength of the women who could survive it and even thrive. But this isn't a fun book to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member pandoragreen
The prose is unpolished, and it is quite clear that Wilder was not finished with this manuscript. In comparison with her early works, it falls flat. However I am VERY glad that they went ahead and published this "unfinished" work. It was a delight following up on what happened to Laura after the last book in the Little House series. There are some very amusing and tender scenes to be found within. Overall, a delightful insight into another time and place.… (more)
LibraryThing member victoriahaumesser
Laura and Almonzo discuss marriage. They marry and this is the account of the first four years of their life on the prarie. This includes the trials and tribulations of being newlyweds, having a child, and them working on the farm on the prarie to provide for their family.
The plot of the book was to show how people lived in early times. I liked the characters of Laura and Alanzo how real they seemed for the setting of the story. The theme kept my interest when reading it.
I really like this book. I always watched the show as a child and reading it made it all that more real. I like these books that show how people made it in the turn of the 20th century.
You could use this book as activities for a classroom having them draw what they think the prarie would look like. They could also write a reflection saying if they would like to live at that time and why or why not.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
I always loved this one when I was a kid, even though it's rather sad at the end. What sitcks out in my mind is the joy of the beginning of the novel, and the beautiful house Almanzo built for Laura.
LibraryThing member mrsarey
The story of Almanzo and Laura in their first four years of marriage, including the birth of Rose and the death of their son.
LibraryThing member BBallard09
This book discussed Laura Ingalls Wilders life during her first four years married to Almonzo Wilder. It talks of her and his struggles working as a farmer and a farmers wife. Where the only way to survive was to depend on the crops to get thier next paychecks. When the bad weather, leaves them cropless, Almonzo and Laura must work together to overcome every obstacle. Also, there is a new baby on the way, so not only do they have to prepare a stable life for them, they must also for their new arrival. Laura and Almonzo learn through their struggles to make it through with love.

I loved these series books. I have read some of the other Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was younger, but haven't read this one. It also had some pictures, that gave a realization to what was going on with the story.

Some of the activities that I would do with this story would be invite someone out of the community to come talk with the children about what it was like to live back in the older days. Also students could have a frontier day, where they dress up in the bonnets, dresses, and suits and pretend to ride around on a horse and buggy.
… (more)
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Oh, this was a hard book to read. Poor Almanzo and Laura couldn't seem to catch a break. The best thing to come out of the first four years was their little girl, Rose. The story ends on a positive note, but despite that, I couldn't help feel that the overall story was melancholy.
LibraryThing member amerynth
The final book in the series follows the first four years of Laura and Almanzo's marriage and the birth of their daughter Rose, as they try to make a living as farmers on the prairie. Published long after both Laura and Rose had died, it lacked the polish of a finished book (and possibly the editing that Rose helped out with in the earlier books.)… (more)
LibraryThing member silversurfer
And with this book, the american classic story comes to an end. I found great pleasure in reading these wonderful books and will treasure Laura's epic family saga.
LibraryThing member thatotter
So bleak that it feels like a letdown after the delightful These Happy Golden Years.
LibraryThing member hello.kitty
this is an easy read and was fun to read
LibraryThing member satyridae
Unrelievedly depressing and told at some distance further than arm's length. Interesting period detail, but so many sad things happen I can understand why Wilder didn't publish this with the rest of the series. I didn't get any real sense of who Laura was as the writing was so dispassionate as to be almost off-putting.
LibraryThing member amandamay83
This was a nice conclusion, I suppose, but I definitely didn't like it as well as the other books. I suppose because it was so brief and zoomed thru four years, not like her other books with such attention to detail. I was heart broken for her, though, to learn her son died and about the house fire. Heavens, she was younger than I when it happened...22 or so.… (more)
LibraryThing member Twilight123
See your favorite little girl grow up to be a mother of a growing family. The last book in the Laura series.
LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
This book starts very differently than all the rest of the ones in the series! So much so, that it almost feels like a different author to me! The first 14-15 pages of this book are basically a repeat from the end of the last book, with some different details, but not enough to warrant the summary. And the author didn't do this with the other books, so what gives? Also, as this is also the shortest book in the series, it seems odd to give so much space to material that we've already read! AND, she writes her husband's name as "Manly" and not "Almanzo" as she used in the other books. "Manly"? I don't think that name was used at all before! So strange... I'd also like to point out that the phrase, "The rich get their ice in the summer, the poor get theirs in the winter", gets used so many times that the actual story is even shorter! What the heck?

This book ends the series with a big old thud. It is interesting to know what happened, but the writing is so brief, and the detail so sparse, that it seems like such a let down. In one instance, there is no mention of Laura's being pregnant until the day she gives birth! Again, I don't know the actual details of this book, but it almost reads like an outline of ideas for an actual full length Little House book! I definitely became a fan of Little House from reading this series, but again, I feel pretty let down by this last installment.
… (more)
LibraryThing member KatiePU
Laura is a smart, beautiful and quirky young lady. She lives with her husband Manly in a quaint little house in the country. In the beginning, Laura and Manly get married, oh how I love it when two people get together in love. In the country Laura and Manly have to face lots of hardships, like wild storms and even a new baby! Can Laura and Manly make it through? You'll have to read to find out. I really like this book. I like it because it shows that love and hard work will always prevail. Readers who want something down to earth but still exciting will love this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member lmm161
This (along with These Happy Golden Years) was my favorite of the little house series. I LOVED the way Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about her courtship and marriage to Almanzo. There was something beautiful, romatic, and simple about these books.
LibraryThing member Gmomaj
Laura Ingalls Wilder is beginning life with her new husband, Almanzo, in their own little house. Laura is a young pioneer wife now, and must work hard with Almanzo, farming the land around their home on the South Dakota prairie. Soon their baby daughter, Rose, is born, and the young family must face the hardships and triumphs encountered by so many American pioneers.… (more)
LibraryThing member librisissimo
Published posthumously from a rough draft, this volume lacks the editorial hand of Laura, and thus the connecting narrative arc characteristic of her work.
It does give further information about the life of a young married couple on the frontier, and the trials they face, and face down.

NOTES: Laura turns 19 in Feb 1886, and Almanzo "Manly" turns 29 (is this his correct age, or the adjusted one he used to file for a homestead claim when he was 19, instead of the legal 21).
… (more)
LibraryThing member EmScape
The last book in Laura's series wasn't published until after the death of both Laura and her daughter, Rose. It picks up where These Happy Golden Years leaves off and tells of the beginning of Laura and Almanzo (Manly) Wilder's marriage. They decide to farm for a few years, and a whole manner of things go wrong with their crop. It's pretty depressing, really, but they manage to be happy and hopeful all the same.
This entire series is important for young readers because of its perspective and window into the daily life of those living on the American frontier in the late 1800's. Comparisons and contrasts can be made to our society and way of life and discussions can be had about which aspects are better or worse. Appreciation of the relative comfort of the average person's life today due to technological advances can be had, as well as an analysis of whether comfort = happiness, or even correlates.
… (more)
LibraryThing member MrsLee
I read this about 30 years ago, and I don't remember enough to give it a real review, only that it was very sad and different in tone from the others in the series.

Similar in this library




(779 ratings; 3.8)
Page: 0.5087 seconds