Ratings: Little House in the Big Woods – 4 stars
Little House on the Prairie – 4 stars
Farmer Boy – 2 stars
On the Banks of Plum Creek – 4 stars
By the Shores of Silver Lake – 4 stars
The Long Winter – 4 stars
Little Town on the Prairie – 4 stars
Those Happy Golden Years – 4 stars
The First Four Years – 2.5 stars
So during the second week of my summer vacation, I got a really nasty cold and sore throat. What better reading material while sick than Laura Ingalls Wilder’s comforting stories about her childhood in 19th Century Frontier America? I was of the impression that I’d several of these as a girl, as it turned out, I had only ever read Little House in the Big Woods. I have, however, seen most of the TV shows, as that was always in constant re-runs in the afternoon on Norwegian telly.
Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books are a fictionalised account of her early life, up to and including her first four years of marriage to Almanzo Wilder. While most of the things she writes about is based on true events, quite a bit of the chronology of the locations the Ingalls family lived and the things that happened to them has been switched around in the books, mainly so the stories would flow better. Laura also doesn’t write about everything that happened to the family. She very significantly never mentions her younger brother, who died while very young, or the period when the family lived in Burr Oak, where her sister Grace was born.
Full review on my blog.
Georges Duroy is an ex-soldier in 1880s Paris. He is down on his luck, struggling to get by, until he bumps into an old army comrade in the street. This chance encounter signals his entry into Parisian society, and his rise is meteoric. You see, Georges is a very handsome man, ‘tall, well-built, fair, with blue eyes, a curled moustache, hair naturally wavy’, and women fall at his feet. At first, Georges flexes his muscles on ladies of the night at the Folies Bergeres, but before long he is seducing a far higher class of woman. Two marriages and two influential mistresses later, Georges is riding high.
As well as being handsome, Georges is also cunning. Aware of his own short-comings, he uses those around him to start and then advance his new career in journalism. He thinks nothing of marrying his friend’s widow, while involved with one of her closest friends and already laying schemes to seduce another. He really is a piece of work. Despite this, the women in his life are all too ready to forgive his cruelty and transgressions. As a result, it’s hard to care about any of them.
I wouldn’t say this is an enjoyable read, although it is well-written and witty. It’s just that the characters are so hateful and shallow. Georges is an unlikeable chancer, but it’s hard not to admire his unwavering self-promotion no matter what the cost. He ruthlessly uses and drops women who worship him, takes advantage of and manipulates his colleagues, and is ashamed enough of his lowly origins to change his name to the inflated ‘Du Roy’ at the urging of his first wife. De Maupassant has turned his unflinching eye on a world peopled by self-absorbed snobs, where a good suit and a bit of charm can get you anywhere. Georges is shameless in his desire to advance himself, but everyone is using someone for something, so why shouldn’t he be?