Friday, November 10, 2006

Little Town in the Ozarks

by Roger Lea MacBride

In this fifth volume of the set, The Rocky Ridge series seems to take a turn. Storywise, Rose Wilder and her family are forced by a poor harvest and pressing bills to move from their farm to a house in the town of Mansfield, Missouri. It's an adjustment for the family as they experience the joys and burdens of "city" life. But the book also has a healthy dose of political commentary as the Wilders and their neighbors react to and comment on the Spanish-American war. It's a marked change from the original Little House books which seem totally centered around the Ingalls family's life and immediate surroundings. It's also a lesser departure from the earlier Rocky Ridge books, which were somewhat centered on the farm. Why this change occurs, I don't know. It could be due to the fact that the author, Roger Lea MacBride, died before completing the manuscripts for this and the subsequent three volumes of the series. Perhaps either his ghost writers injected the political slant into the series or they failed to edit out political comments that Mr. MacBride had always put into his rough drafts. Or it could be that Mr. MacBride is trying to reflect the times at the turn of the 20th Century, when the telegraph and improved transportation brought the outside world a bit closer to mid-America. Or maybe it's just an honest depiction of Rose Wilder's own awakening social conscience. Whatever the reason, it doesn't make the book bad, just different from its predecessors. The Wilders and their neighbors are still the same admirable characters and it's still interesting to see what happens next. Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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