The First Four Years c.2

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Other authorsGarth Williams (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1971

Status

Check shelf

Call number

SC Wi c.2

Publication

Harper & Row (1971), Edition: 1st, 160 pages

Description

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.

Local notes

00000-0437-5112

User reviews

LibraryThing member krosero
In this novel I feel like I’m reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pure voice for the first time. This book, as is well known, was never edited by her daughter Rose Wilder Lane and is very different from the other Little House books. The language is more plain, but the book feels more honest.

Rose
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Wilder Lane wanted to tell a story of self-reliant and successful pioneers, so one thing she did was to take out certain events, like the death of Laura’s baby brother, Charles Frederick. (Events that she wanted to take out but Wilder insisted on keeping include Mary’s blindness and the laborers’ riot near the Silver Lake settlement). By contrast, in “The First Four Years” we get a succession of setbacks and tragedies: the Wilder crop is destroyed repeatedly, their house burns down, and their infant son dies. All this is reported without sentimentality or overt drama – and certainly without uplifting lessons. There are hardly any episodes even of fun and laughter.

It’s not that Laura and Almanzo are made to seem dour here, but their life is revealed as harsh and uncertain, with little-to-no payback or progress.

It’s an unfinished work, of course, and merely a first draft. We can never know what Wilder herself would have done with future drafts.

But her voice is heavily reportorial, and intensely descriptive. Much of the gift for storytelling that you see in the other books remains in this one, such as when Almanzo gets lost in a blizzard merely on his way from the barn to the house. But there’s no overarching lesson of self-reliance that shapes this book. It’s hard to see any overarching lesson at all, actually. At the very end Laura does recommit to the life of a farming family and to the persistence that it requires, but it feels like she’s embracing this commitment not because it’s an overarching faith but simply because she can hardly do anything else except go on working and living.

This is very different from the other Little House books, and maybe this novel doesn’t come up to my favorites, but I deeply appreciate its simple honesty.
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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
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meant for adults, not children, and you can feel the desperation and perseverance in every page. Definitely not a sugar-coated story.
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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
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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.
--J.
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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
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loved series, told with love and courage.
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LibraryThing member krosero
In this novel I feel like I’m reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pure voice for the first time. This book, as is well known, was never edited by her daughter Rose Wilder Lane and is very different from the other Little House books. The language is more plain, but the book feels more honest.

Rose
Show More
Wilder Lane wanted to tell a story of self-reliant and successful pioneers, so one thing she did was to take out certain events, like the death of Laura’s baby brother, Charles Frederick. (Events that she wanted to take out but Wilder insisted on keeping include Mary’s blindness and the laborers’ riot near the Silver Lake settlement). By contrast, in “The First Four Years” we get a succession of setbacks and tragedies: the Wilder crop is destroyed repeatedly, their house burns down, and their infant son dies. All this is reported without sentimentality or overt drama – and certainly without uplifting lessons. There are hardly any episodes even of fun and laughter.

It’s not that Laura and Almanzo are made to seem dour here, but their life is revealed as harsh and uncertain, with little-to-no payback or progress.

It’s an unfinished work, of course, and merely a first draft. We can never know what Wilder herself would have done with future drafts.

But her voice is heavily reportorial, and intensely descriptive. Much of the gift for storytelling that you see in the other books remains in this one, such as when Almanzo gets lost in a blizzard merely on his way from the barn to the house. But there’s no overarching lesson of self-reliance that shapes this book. It’s hard to see any overarching lesson at all, actually. At the very end Laura does recommit to the life of a farming family and to the persistence that it requires, but it feels like she’s embracing this commitment not because it’s an overarching faith but simply because she can hardly do anything else except go on working and living.

This is very different from the other Little House books, and maybe this novel doesn’t come up to my favorites, but I deeply appreciate its simple honesty.
Show Less
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member LibraryCin
This is the last in the Little House series, looking at the first four years of Laura and Almanzo’s marriage. They homesteaded during this time and tried to get a farm going, and they had a daughter, Rose.

This was published after Rose’s death. The book was an unfinished manuscript. I still
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really enjoyed it, even if it wasn’t as Laura would have published it if she’d ever taken time to finish it. There were still plenty of brilliant descriptions of things. During the four years, their farm (at least the crops) never did flourish, though they did well with their animals. The weather (as it often is with farming) was the culprit – hail, a tornado (or cyclone, as Laura called it), drought, fire. Also blizzards in winter factored into their lives, as it did with anyone on the prairies. I have a beautiful “full color collector’s edition”, which has very nice glossy colour illustrations.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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editing that Rose helped out with in the earlier books.)
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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 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
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be almost off-putting.
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LibraryThing member Maya47Bob46
Wilder did not edit this book for publication and it shows. It is, however, an interesting story of the early years of her marriage.
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
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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.
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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 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 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 Jillian_Kay
Reading this makes you realize why these sorts of stories usually end at the wedding. Still, it was Little House and it was a good read.
LibraryThing member hello.kitty
this is an easy read and was fun to read
LibraryThing member thatotter
So bleak that it feels like a letdown after the delightful These Happy Golden Years.
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.
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 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 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
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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.
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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:
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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).
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Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1953
1980 (1e traduction et édition français, Bibliothèque du Chat Perché, Flammarion)

Physical description

8 inches

ISBN

0060264268 / 9780060264260

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