Series: Little House #8
Reading Challenges: #20BooksOfSummer, #LittleHouseRAL
Fifteen-year-old Laura lives apart from her family for the first time, teaching school in a claim shanty twelve miles from home. She is very homesick, but keeps at it so that she can help pay for her sister Mary's tuition at the college for the blind. During school vacations Laura has fun with her singing lessons, going on sleigh rides, and best of all, helping Almanzo Wilder drive his new buggy. Friendship soon turns to love for Laura and Almanzo in the romantic conclusion of this Little House book.
These Happy Golden Years opens with Laura, still 15, on her way to the Brewster settlement to be her eight weeks term of teaching in which she’ll learn $40 total. She wishes to use the money to help fund Mary a trip home for the summer. As he father is driving the sleigh, she is coming to grips with the facts that not only will this be her first time away from home but she will also be teaching for the very first time. Both facts seem to frazzle Laura.
As soon as she has arrived at Mr. Brewster’s house, she greeted by him and her father begins his journey back home making Laura feel extra homesick. Once inside the Brewster’s house she meets his wife and their toddler son John, who seems to never stop crying. Her first night there is not only cold from the winter but from Mrs. Brewster, who is very short tongued with her and hardly responds to her as she helps her clean the dinner table and kitchen area up. After dinner, Laura, who is determined to keep up with her classmates back in De Smet studies before heading to bed at eight o’clock. Sleeping on a small sofa, she hears Mrs. Brewster fussing about her, or rather fussing about the idea of idea and not Laura herself.
The following morning, Laura heads out to her new schoolhouse through treacherous snow where she discovers her students are already there in the heated schoolhouse. Mr. Brewster had gotten up earlier to come heat the one room building – a task he continues to do all winter long. There are only five students: brothers and sister, Tommy and Clarence and Ruby Brewster (Mr. Brewster’s nephews and niece) and brother and sister Charles and Martha Harrison. She soon discovers that at least two of the students are older than her. After a few introductions, she begins her first day which she considers a success.
Returning to her temporary home is discouraging to her and she hopes the days and nights get better but as the week continues she realizes that are empty hopes. She now only hopes that Pa will arrive Friday to take her home for the weekend, but she isn’t betting on it. Come Friday, as the school is about to unwind, Laura and her students her sleigh bells and she discovers that Almanzo Wilder has come to take her home for the weekend. She is both relieved and surprised.
Relieved to be home, she enjoys the time and her family that she seemed to have taken for granted. Sunday rolls around and she is not looking forward to heading back to the Brewster house. Unexpectedly, Almanzo shows up to her house to take her back. This is a routine that continues for remainder of her teaching term. Most times the two do not talk. She feels that she does not want to give him the wrong impression and she thinks he is just doing her father a favor.
Week after week she enjoys time with her family and even her friends to who she confesses that she does not like teaching. She knows that she is only doing so because she needs to money and was expected to do so before being married some day. While with her family she confides in her mother that she can’t seem to get through to her students. Since her mother was a teacher before marrying Pa, she give Laura some advice on what do. The advice seems to help and the students become more tolerable and begin to learn and retain their education.
When the term is finally over, Almanzo returns for one last sleigh ride back home. Before leaving he ask Laura if she’d like go for a sleigh ride the following weekend and she agrees. The sleigh rides become a weekly thing and as spring approaches the sleigh rides become buggy rides. The two talk very little but ride around town together, but one afternoon he arrives with Nellie Oleson in the buggy. Laura is not very happy about this and is even more unsatisfied when Nellie flirts with Almanzo. Hoping it is a one time thing, she looks forward to the next weekend, but is disappointed to see Nellie along for the ride again. This does not last many more weeks before Laura finally puts her foot down and tells him he would like to ride Nellie around to not stop by and pick her up. The following week he arrives alone and confesses that he did not know there was a rift between the two girls.
The two continue their weekly rides that soon becomes horse back rides. The two still don’t speak much but they form a friendship. One evening Almanzo asked Laura if she’d like to be engaged. Her response is that she’d only agree to an engagement if the man asking her presented her with an acceptable ring. The following week Almanzo presents her with a beautiful ring and she accepts. Her parents are delighted and relieved, but do not want her to marry if that is not what she really wants. She assures that that it is what she wants.
There are other details in this book, but after much consideration I figured that did not need to be in my synopsis or review. It is surprising how few pages this book has, yet how many details happened.
Another enjoyable read. It was great seeing Laura realize Almanzo likes (and then loves) her and that she feels the same for him. Their romance is simple, yet beautiful.