This is a book that has been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read since it released in 2017. It happens, something makes you buy the book with every intention of reading it immediately, but then you don't get to it and it's placed on a shelf, waiting until you find it again. I finally picked it up again recently, this time to read it!
There was a great deal of buzz and interest in Sarah Miller's Caroline, due to its appeal to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. The book is a sort of retelling of Wilder's Little House on the Prairie through the point of view of Caroline Ingalls (aka Ma in the Little House books). It's an interesting concept that opens the Little House world up to a broader audience, drawing in adults who may not have been able to relate to Wilder's children's books.
Being a longtime Little House and LIW fan, I was excited when I heard about Caroline's release and was quick to grab a copy for myself, even if I ended up not being quick with the reading of it. Flash forward 2 years later, I finally got around to reading it. I found Caroline an enjoyable read, helped by the fact that I was already familiar with the characters through LIW's Little House on the Prairie. It was interesting to see the story unfold through an adult's perspective and helped round out the original story.
As I said above, Caroline was an enjoyable read, though I will say it was a bit long on prose and spent a little too much time in the character's (Caroline) mind, rather than the story surrounding her. There were sections dedicated to particular activities and such that I felt were over done, drawn out, and took up a great deal of room that could have been devoted to other, more interesting details.
Miller seemed to zero in and focus on the act of Caroline breastfeeding the baby (Carrie) multiple times for long stretches. To be clear, I have absolutely no issue with breastfeeding, it is a beautiful act of feeding and nurturing your child, but in this case, it weighed the book down a great deal, so much so, it runs the risk of turning the reader off from the overall story. In fact, it seemed that the author had an odd interest in Caroline's breasts and body as a whole, to the point where there were sections of the book that I had to just skim over because it just got to be too much to wade through.
The only other big issue is that I would imagine it would be harder to get into this book if you were not already familiar with the characters originally created by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Part of this book's charm and selling point is the fact that it plays off of LIW's books, it's geared toward her fans. Miller doesn't spend a whole lot of time developing the characters herself, obviously relying on the fact that most readers have already read LIW's books, but that is indeed a dangerous tactic, for it can alienate new readers who have never read the original Little House books. To them, I would imagine the characters would seem a bit underdeveloped.
All in all, though, I would say that Caroline was a fairly enjoyable read, one for Little House fans to add to their reading repertoire, if not their shelves.
I give it a 5/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....