Title: The First Four Years
Author: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Genre: Fiction, YA
Source: My bookshelf
What you'll love: Answers the question "what happens after happily-ever-after?" at the end of These Happy Golden Years.
What will bug you: This is not the way a story of pure fiction would turn out!
As I've been saying throughout my revisit to this series - spoilers everywhere!
I have to be honest - this is my least favorite book of the series. The forward to my edition says that The First Four Years was found by Laura's daughter, Rose. She had it published it as-is. This creates a very different tone and voice from the series.
I noticed this change of tone right from the beginning - The First Four Years overlaps just slightly with These Happy Golden Years, picking up when Almanzo suggests that he and Laura get married a little earlier to avoid having their wedding taken over by his mother and sister. It's depicted a little differently. Laura seems, what? Hesitant? She says that she vowed to never marry a farmer, but after a proposition from Almanzo, she agrees to give it a go for four years. I didn't like it. I want the fiction. I want the romance.
The first four years of marriage between Laura and Almanzo are not easy. They're faced with a miscarriage, huge money problems, bad crops, a house fire. This was not the rosy end to a series I had in mind - of course it was published after Laura's death, so it was not intended to be the end of the series. There was a lot of real life. After reading seven fictionalized stories based on Laura's childhood... well, it comes as a shock.
Part of it can be a little comforting. We all face tough times. No one is immune.
A nice story. Not my favorite, but still a good epilogue of sorts to the series.