Title: These Happy Golden Years
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genre: Fiction, YA
Source: My bookshelf
What you'll love: The unfolding of a beautiful courtship between Laura and Almanzo.
What will bug you: ...still hate Nellie Oleson.
Spoilers! There are lots! Beware!
I loved this book! This is my favorite by far. I'm proud of Laura for being a teacher and sticking it out even when it was tough. I'm in love with Almanzo and the quiet way he shows his affections to Laura. We get to see Mary go away and start a life that she deserves. Nellie's still a bitch, but at this point it's almost comical.
Laura really had it rough at her first teaching assignment. As a teacher, I cannot imagine doing the job in that time period. There's such an expectation of perfection from the teacher, it's unfair and unreasonable. Actually, it makes me realize some things about conversations I've had with my (almost 90-year-old!) Grandmother. She often makes remarks that I must have my desk perfectly organized (yeah right!) or always speak in a soft tone, or lead by perfect example to my "pupils". Reading this made me realize that although she grew up many years after Laura, some of the expectations were still there. I felt proud of Laura for rising to the occasion and getting the best work possible out of her students.
Can you imagine boarding in someone's house when they hated you? I really felt sorry for Laura having to live under those conditions. Thank God for Almanzo. He could definitely sense how unhappy she was, and he loved her enough to continue picking her up even though she was kind of a jerk to him saying that she was only riding with him because it was a means to an end.
Oh, Almanzo. I loved, loved reading about their courtship. He reminds me a little of my Grandfather - ever faithful, caring, willing to do whatever it takes to make the other person happy. There were so many times, while reading this, that I found myself sighing and smiling at his persistence in inviting her to take buggy rides. They are meant of each other. Laura's a hot ticket - she's not afraid to jump on the buggy or the sleigh when the horse is just about ready to bolt. She's a pioneer woman, not afraid of anything - or if she is, willing to stand up and face it. There have been few occasions when I've been moved to tears by books (it just doesn't happen - at movies, yes, but I think it's a combination between the story and when the music kicks in...). After Laura and Almanzo's wedding dinner, when they're getting into the buggy to go to their new home, and Pa helps Laura into the buggy saying "You'll help her from now on, young man, but this time, I will." I needed to get a tissue. Touching beyond words.
While the hurricane was blowing (not so hard here in Eastern NH), and we were without power, there isn't a better book I'd like to get lost in.