Review: The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession…Wendy McClure…retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota…
The Wilder Life is the ultimate in vicarious experiences. Part travelogue, part memoir, part research review, and part cooking reflection, I loved every single audio minute! Did I have to actually travel to the numerous Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW) historical sites, delve into the archives of LIW doctoral theses, or attempt to grind my own flour – NO! Did I have a heck of a good time reliving McClure’s efforts-YES!
Wendy McClure and I will hopefully have a conversation at a cocktail party one day where I can say, “I totally had the same experience you did with LIW-I didn’t ever want to watch the TV show because they couldn’t possibly be like the books, I am so excited that you got to see all the historical sites and now I want to go too, and your @HalfPintIngalls tweets are freakin’ hilarious. Oh, and Wendy, the LiteraryMama you quoted who wrote about how frustrated she became when her daughter liked Mary more than Laura? Yeah, she’s my college professor and that daughter was a flowergirl in my wedding…so we should totally be best friends now-right?”
My point is, you will want to listen to (or read) The Wilder Life for yourself because it will make you laugh out loud, nod your head vigorously and gape in astonishment over everything that is jam-packed into the book. I know you loved LIW as much as I did as a kid, and having someone discuss what’s been fictionalized in the books (who knew?), discuss why there is SO MUCH FOOD in Farmer Boy, explain what happened to Laura in her later years, and share why we all love to hate Nellie Oleson –these are just a few of the reasons that make this book as fabulous as I thought it would be and much more informative than I ever expected.
The reader of the audiobook, Teri Clark Linden, did a lovely job narrating The Wilder Life, once I got over that Wendy herself did not read her book (which I always prefer when it’s a memoir). However, I soon believed that Teri was channeling Wendy because she was so expressive and articulate, it sounded like Wendy was in the room telling me about her journey to find “Laura World.”
I have to end you with my current favorite @HalfPintIngalls tweet to give you a “taste” –pun intended-of McClure’s sense of humor: “Happy July 4th! Good thing I’m ahead of Nellie Oleson in the lemonade line because that’s one wicked cold sore she’s got. Wipe the dipper!”
I give The Wilder Life 5 stacks with earbuds!