Thursday, September 29, 2022

Back to the Prairie by Melissa Gilbert

When I saw that Melissa Gilbert had a new book out, Back to the Prairie, and having recently read Karen Grassle's book, I knew that I had to read it. I put in a reserve at the library and waited for it to come in so that I could read it. When I did, I was surprised...I had expected a more historical view of her life as an actress on Little House on the Prairie but in reality, this book is a story about her life in recent years, primarily set across the backdrop of the pandemic. After the initial surprise in the timeframe that the book was set, I realized the title was well supported as she became a gardener, a chicken raiser and friend of the wildlife all around them at their cottage (or 'cabbage' as she referred to it) in the woods.

I really enjoyed getting to know more about the woman that once was the child actor on a show I adored as a child and adult. She wrote from a very honest perspective and the forward was written by her current spouse. In so many ways, she is a very down to earth person. Although she was a child star, she lived a very modest life and seemed so at home at her country cottage doing 'everyday' things. What I knew of her before this book was primarily based on the character that she played. As such, it was always interesting when she would reflect back on the things she learned by being an actor in the role of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

One of my favorite passages in the book was:
"My point? I want people to know they aren't alone. Nobody is so special that they are the only ones who have walked through something. If I can help make someone feel less isolated, scared, or lonely, I am doing my job... The spirit of what I felt was captured in another way by Laura Ingalls Wilder, she wrote, 'The real things haven't changed. it is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.'"

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to a friend. It was a different type of story than Karen Grassle's auto-biography but still one worth reading. Of course, I looked to see and she does have a memoir and a cookbook that are both tied to her time on the show, so I will likely check those out at the library soon.