The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

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Synopsis

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 is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She 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. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns. Whether she's churning butter in her apartment or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West.

The Wilder Life is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened.
 

About Wendy McClure

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WENDY McCLURE has been writing about her obsessions both online and in print for nearly a decade. In addition to her 2005 memoir, I'm Not the New Me, she is a columnist for BUST magazine and has contributed to The New York Times Magazine. McClure holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives in Chicago, where she is a senior editor at the children's book publisher Albert Whitman & Company.
 
Published April 14, 2011 by Riverhead Books. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Wilder Life

Publishers Weekly

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Obsessed with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books about an 1880s pioneer family, children's book editor and memoirist McClure (I'm Not the New Me) attempts to recapture her childhood visio

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Book Reporter

In her latest book, THE WILDER LIFE, McClure explores the general attraction to the books, the television sensation, the world of Little House fans, and her own personal connections to all of it.

Mar 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Star Tribune

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McClure's poignant memoir highlights the intangible something about Wilder's series that strikes a chord in readers.

Apr 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

AV Club

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A childhood obsession with the Little House On The Prairie books becomes a compelling personal journey to find the real Laura Ingalls Wilder and the fans who love her.

May 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Dallas News

The book has some potential as a portrait in kookiness, but the strangest folks McClure encounters are members of a Doomsday sect she meets at a “homesteading” demonstration, and they have little actual connection to the Little House phenomenon.

Jun 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Teen Reads

In her latest book, THE WILDER LIFE, McClure explores the general attraction to the books, the television sensation, the world of Little House fans, and her own personal connections to all of it.

Apr 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Zimbio

... I believe every fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, whether that person is a fan of the
books, the TV shows and movies, or both, has a Laura story: the ...

Mar 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Lincoln Journal Star

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May 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Bookmarks Magazine

a few felt it is a book anyone could enjoy, but most felt it would be difficult to appreciate without prior knowledge of the Little House books.

Apr 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Story Circle Book Reviews

McClure wanted to reconcile the fictional Laura with the real one, to find her in places with the intention of experiencing Laura's vivacity, courage, and adventuresome essence for herself.

Mar 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Time Out New York

Author Wendy McClure (I'm Not the New Me) immersed herself in what she calls "Laura World" for her new book, The Wilder Life, and found the author's story more complicated than an eight-year-old (the age that McClure was when she read the series) could have imagined.

May 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Vulture

This was the era of the variety show, anthology-formatted shows like Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and family-friendly programming that literally meant “something for the whole family.” Thanks to its sprawling cast and small-town-as-microcosm setting, Little House could be something different eac...

Apr 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Christianity Today

(It did, but not in the way the lady meant.) The church was an extreme example of the people who McClure continually encountered: those who found in Laura's world inspiration for living simpler and returning to the frontier world that was already fading when Wilder began penning her books.

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org

Last week, Rebecca Onion at Slate dug up and posted a document that might be of interest to all you Laura Ingalls Wilder fans out there: a letter from Rose Wilder Lane, Wilder's daughter, critiquing the first draft of Wilder's book By the Shores of Silver Lake.

May 01 2014 | Read Full Review of The Wilder Life

Reader Rating for The Wilder Life
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