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"The rich man gets his ice in summer; the poor man gets his in winter."
on 29 July 2006
"The First Four Years" describes Laura and Almanzo Wilder's wedding and first years of marriage on a Dakota farm in the 1880s. Laura first tells Almanzo that she will never marry a farmer because the life is so hard and offers little financial security, so he makes a deal with her: They will try farming for three years and if it doesn't work out, he'll get a job in town. She agrees, and they begin their life together.
The manuscript for this book was found after Laura's death in 1957. It is very different from her previous Little House books in that there is neither dialogue nor emotion; rather, it is a dispassionate list of events. A lot happens to the Wilders during their first four years including the birth of their daughter, disastrous weather and constant debt, serious illnesses, and a death in the family. Yet never once does Laura describe any emotional reaction to these events; she faces both good and bad times with equal stoicism. Although the book is short, it seemed to drag because it was so dry and repetitive; we get endless descriptions of prairie weather, the condition of their livestock, and their financial troubles, all told by a detached observer. I learned about living conditions at the time, but found it lacked the charm and energy of earlier books.