The Ingalls family loads everything they own onto a wagon and heads west from Wisconsin to the unsettled Kansas Territory, but this time, the tale is told from Caroline’s perspective.
A master of historical fiction, Miller (The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, 2016, etc.) forges Caroline Ingalls into a formidable, complex pioneer woman, and adult fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series will delight in this portrayal of “Ma.” Taking advantage of the opportunity to sell their Wisconsin farm, the Ingallses say goodbye to extended family. Will Charles, her beloved husband; Mary, her sweetly serious 5-year-old; and Laura, her rambunctious 3-year-old, be enough for Caroline? More worrisome, she's again pregnant. Without her kinswomen near, who will deliver her child? The journey is rife with dangers, from torrential rains and swollen rivers to menacing wolves and inscrutable Indians, not to mention claustrophobic quarters aboard the wagon. Yet the journey also brings rekindled romance and the discovery of new friends, including the beloved Mr. Edwards, who arrives gruff, lean, and thirsty for a family. And in her direst moments Caroline must swallow her fears as she faces down Indians invading her new home, catastrophic accidents, and illnesses. And she must stifle her modesty as she surrenders to the ministrations of a stranger, the only woman for miles, in childbirth. As the Ingalls family moves into the wide-open prairie, Caroline’s own psychological terrain cracks opens, and Miller’s novel shifts from exploring the geographical to the emotional wilderness of a woman caught on the very edge of civilization as she knows it. Caroline is compellingly mindful, particularly when she studies the effects of a tightly knit family life on her daughters and of relentless, brutal work on her husband, herself, and her far-flung neighbors in Indian territory.
Beguiling, pulse-pounding historical fiction.