December 29, 2010

Book Review- The Long Winter

Disclosure:  I bought this book because I was interested in it.  I am not getting paid to read it or review it.  I just like to read.

I recently read Laura Ingalls Wilders' The Long Winter, one of the books in the Little House series.  It was a fascinating account of the winter her family nearly starved to death because the trains carrying food and supplies could not reach them due to 7 months of back-to-back blizzards.  It made me so grateful to have electricity, an abundant supply of food, and all the other modern conveniences we take for granted. 

The character that amazed me most was Ma Ingalls.  In the face of boredom, starvation, and cold, Ma survived.  She got up in the morning, got dressed, lit the fire, made breakfast, cleaned the house, encouraged the girls to study, served her husband dinner, ground wheat, etc.  She hardly ever said anything "cross", and when she did tell her husband he couldn't go searching for wheat in the middle of the prairie, it was a really dramatic moment.  I think that moment plus the moment she learned the trains would not be coming until spring were the only times in the whole book she was ever really angry.  The rest of the time she was looking for nice things to say.  They had only potatoes and bread to eat, but she said things like, "It was good of you, Charles, to get some tea.  It is so nice to have tea".  She didn't complain, criticize, blame, or nag.  She was also very thrifty, and made a light out of a button, some cloth, and some axle grease.  It's funny to me to read when she said things like "Back when I was a girl, we always had a light.  We didn't depend on this newfangled kerosene".  I guess I've never thought about how people made lights before there was kerosene.

This book opened up a whole new world for me.  Since moving out to the prairie I've often wondered how the people that came here before I did survived.  The Long Winter provides a glimpse of that.  I'm interested to read the rest of the Little House series now, to learn more about life on the American frontier.


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