I snagged a copy of Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane from the Worcester Public Library. I thought it might help me to figure out how I felt about Holtz's claims in The Ghost in the Little House and the amount of Rose's involvement in her mother's books.
This book tells the story of David Beaton, a young man who leaves his father's farm to set out on his own with his new wife Mary. As I had mentioned in other posts on my blog, Rose's father Almanzo is the inspiration behind this book. The curious thing is that many of the names are the same. David's father is named James, David has two sisters named Alice and Eliza, and a brother named Perley. As far as I can tell, the only names that were changed in this novel are Almanzo's (David) and Royal's (Raleigh). David's mother is simply referred to as mother.
I've made it to Chapter 16, which is found on page 83 of this 332-page novel. I wish I could say it's been easy reading. I guess I had this silly thought it would be so much like the Little House books that I would love it. But, this is an adult novel, not fiction for children, so the difference is clear. Lane does provide a good amount of detail so that you can get a picture of what it was like for David and Mary as they suffer through a blizzard while on the way to their claim shanty. They are forced to seek shelter underneath their sleigh because they cannot find the railroad camp--which unknown to them they passed 11 miles back.
Since I only have until April 20th to complete the reading of this novel, I best get moving on it. That's one of the problems with borrowing a book from the Virtual Catalog--there are no renewals. I'm hoping that there will be a moment where I suddenly find myself so interested in the novel that I can't put it down. It hasn't happened yet, but it took me over 600 pages to get into Stephen King's The Stand and I still think it's the best book I've ever read.
I'll be checking in here as I progress through the novel, giving you my thoughts as I did with The Ghost in the Little House. Perhaps reading Lane's book will help me make up my mind one way or the other about Rose's connection to the Little House series.
I will close with one little bit of trivia. According to the IMDB, Blanche Hanalis was a writer for the TV movie Young Pioneers. She is also the one credited with adapting Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books for Landon's Little House on the Prairie.
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