A Wilder Rose
by Susan Wittig Albert

Persevero Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-989-20350-0.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 11/02/2013

Fiction: Historical

My name is Laura—a name chosen for me not only after a relative, but because my much-older sisters were reading the series (Little House on the Prairie, etc.) when I was born. So I have always had a vested interest, so to speak, in the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Susan Wittig Albert is a marvelously prolific, creatively inspirational writer, with a large palette of visionary and beautiful stories always waiting to be told. Her China Bayles herbal mysteries, her Victorian mysteries (written with her husband under the nom de plume Robin Paige), her Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales and the relatively new series, The Darling Dahlias, all show her remarkable talent and amazing interests. But this newest Albert book breaks unusual ground.

Here, she takes on the story behind the stories. Based on voluminous research, she takes us down seldom trod paths, weaving in the story we know, about Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, with the little-known background stories revolving around her relationship with her only daughter, Rose. The unmentioned contributions Rose made to her parents' lives in Missouri, and to the body of work that became synonymous with Laura is laid out here in A Wilder Rose, and takes us behind the scenes with Rose Wilder Lane, a published author and journalist in her own right.

I am obviously a Susan Wittig Albert fan, having read all her books of the last 20 years, which also include some great non-fiction (Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place; and An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days). I hope you will do as I did, and read this book with an open mind and an open heart—ready to delve into the complexities of mother/daughter relationships, and the accomplishments of this particular duo. The book will challenge your preconceived ideas about the Little House books, and yet, it will bring you home with a satisfying understanding of book writing, publishing and parenting, yesterday and today.

In 1985, Susan left her career as a university English professor and administrator and began working fulltime as a novelist. Her 50-plus books include the best-selling China Bayles mysteries, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert. Working together, the Alberts have also written over 60 young adult novels. Susan's latest project is a series of historical mysteries, The Darling Dahlias, set in the 1930s.

Susan's earlier nonfiction work includes Work of Her Own, a study of women who left their careers, and Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul's Story, a guidebook for women memoirists. That book led to the founding of the Story Circle Network in 1997. She has edited two anthologies for the Story Circle Network: With Courage and Common Sense (2004) and What Wildness Is This: Women Write about the Southwest (2007).

She is also the author of two memoirs: Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place (2009) and An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days (2010), both published by the University of Texas Press. She is working on a collection of essays entitled Unfinished Places. She has three children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandsons. She and Bill live in the Texas Hill Country, where she writes, gardens, and raises a varying assortment of barnyard creatures. Visit her website and the book's website.

(See other reviews of this book, here & here)

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