These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is the 6th of the 8 books in the Little House on the Prairie series. I read them all as a child, and then again a few years ago, but These Happy Golden Years is the one that stuck with me. I re-read it every year or two, and my copy is so well-loved that I have book tape keeping it together.
I went through a time in my later teenage years/ young adult years where I couldn’t get enough romance novels. Most romance novels these days rely on explicit sex scenes to keep the tension high. Part of that is that there’s more sex in dating than there was in the 1870s. Part of it, I think, is that people have forgotten that romance should be… romantic.
This book isn’t a romance novel. It’s about 15-17 year old Laura, who starts teaching school. She’s growing up, and part of that is that the older Almanzo Wilder is wooing her. He starts driving her home from the school where she lives on weekends, driving hours through blizzards without asking more than her company.
This contrast with other books I was reading really struck me. It didn’t rely on words to show affection; it relied on action. At one point, Laura tells him straight out that she’s not interested in him, and he still continues to be nice to her.
I thought that there had to be sex in romance novels, and maybe that’s what romance readers expect. But this book helped me realize that I can write a book with romance without getting into all the mechanics of it. I don’t object to sex scenes, but I think that paying attention to other, more subtle kinds of romance, can have a much larger payoff.
The books are written in a straightforward manner, with simple language and phrases. It doesn’t rely on flowery words or imagery. The books just tell the story, and allow the reader to enjoy it. I love relaxing with these books like I’m relaxing with an old friend.
It took me years to realize that I was also learning some history along with the books.
If I had to read historical fiction in high school instead of that dry history, I would have retained more.
Anyway, it’s my favorite book in the series.
Did you read these books? Do you have a favorite?