I purchased The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane by William Holtz during my visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm homesite in Mansfield, Missouri. Of course, I knew that Rose was Laura’s only surviving child, was an author on her own, and more well-known at the time her mother started writing, but most of what I’ve read about her was through the lens of her mother’s eyes, so I was interested in a book that focused on her as her own person.
The Ghost in the Little House is a detailed chronical of Rose Wilder Lane’s life from essentially her birth until past her death, created from the author’s obvious extensive study of her papers, travels, and everything she left behind as well as her mother. I was fascinated by this book. Being a fan of psychology and getting into people’s heads to a degree, I loved the light the book shed on this mother-daughter relationship. Each, mother and daughter, was her own person who outshined her husband and father, respectively, to the point that there is less in the world about him than almost anyone in the family, besides what Laura herself provided to the world, of course.
In addition to giving me a different perspective on one of my favorite and most influential authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder, this book also provided an interesting theory of the travel-writing industry. In Rose’s day, an author could make money by traveling the world and sending her thoughts and observations back for publication in the states, even make a living. People couldn’t travel as easily as they can today, and today, if you want to see what a location looks like, you simply log on to Google Earth or search a vast collection of images on the web. Another thing I learned was about the evolution of freelance writing – it was a much more lucrative endeavor to write as a freelancer for magazines then compared to now.
This book won’t be loved by everyone (skimming the Amazon reviews will tell you that), but if you are interested in an in-depth analysis of relationships or people, you will definitely like it. You might also enjoy it if you are a big Laura fan and/or if you enjoy history. It did take me a while to read this one, just due to its length and other obligations, so on a can’t-put-it-down-scale of one for I couldn’t even finish it to ten for I was up until the wee morning hours, I give it a six and a half.
Source: Holtz, William. (1993). The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane. University of Missouri Press.