by Erin Blakemore and Sandra Hume
Sandra: This chapter is a game-changer.
Erin: Laura’s hot stock is rising–
Sandra: Little Bachelorette on the Prairie.
Erin: — as evidenced by the nameless bachelors who suddenly want to take her out riding. Whatever, they don’t get names. As cool as Laura is able to remain, Almanzo is the only suitor who rates his very own name.
Sandra: I wonder if this is before or after the kissing games referenced in Pioneer Girl?
Erin: Laura’s skepticism over the prairie being turned to woodland is understandable, but also a bit chilling. Big foreshadowing here.
Sandra: I know, right? The tree claim! Ominously: “He said that if trees would grow on those prairies, he thought they would have grown there naturally before now.”
Erin: I can’t help but think that chokecherries represent our girl Nellie, who is now getting her comeuppance in a tiny shanty and (gasp!) a homestead with only oxen.
Sandra: We should feel sorry for her the way Laura does, but we don’t.
Erin: We’ve been carrying this resentment around for Laura.
Sandra: Love how Laura says “the whole country seemed different to her.” It’s like when the guy takes you over to the next town in his spiffy, shiny Camaro with the faux-fur Playboy seatcovers. Oh, wait …
Erin: Don’t think of Nellie. DON’T THINK OF NELLIE.
Sandra: Whoa, Nellie.
Erin: Laura’s cool demeanor is a sharp contrast to the omg-too-too-ness of Nellie, who is suddenly JUST CHARMED by everything ever.
Sandra: I kind of think Pa is glad for the chance to witness this meeting in the buggy. Good entertainment.
Erin: Oh, my kingdom for a glimpse into Almanzo’s take on all of this.
Sandra: “Is Laura still here?”
Erin: Nellie. You do not know who you are messing with. This is the girl who rocked the desk off its fasteners and who moved a pile of wood indoors by sheer dint of determination.
Sandra: “Almanzo seemed to be enjoying the drive.” Oh, men. Remember Roger and Elaine?
Erin: Okay, I’m starting to feel bad for Nellie. Who knows what she endured in the intervening years?
Sandra: Willie’s adolescence? Oh, look. Laura’s practicing the tried-and-true tactic of being the last chick out of the car.
Erin: Well played, Mrs. Boast! She knows what’s up.
Sandra: Both the Boasts are so on to her.
Erin: At least Laura has a sense of humor about the whole thing.
Sandra: So does Laura the writer: Nellie clutches Almanzo’s arm, “which he very much needed to use just then.” Snicker.
Erin: OH SNAP! Laura’s feigned apology for making Almanzo go her way is priceless.
Erin: DOUBLE SNAP. Laura won’t go driving if Nellie’s part of the picture. Poor Almanzo. Trying to be nice has now ticked off both women.
Sandra: Almanzo: “What the frick just happened?”
Erin: Party fail, Manly. Don’t you know you should never assume a lass will go out with you next Sunday?
Sandra: We interrupt this catfight to bring you a letter from Mary, who’s having so much fun in Iowa she’d rather summer there than on the clean Dakota prairies. It makes Ma a little woozy, and she even complains for a second, before remembering she’s Ma.
Erin: The detail of the potatoes getting too brown is just perfect. It suggests Carrie’s hand suspended in mid-air as she waits to hear the horrible news about Mary.
Sandra: Laura’s bummed mood continues all that Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Interesting: a phrase I’ve never noticed before. “As she rode to church in the wagon she said to herself that she would ride in a wagon all the rest of her life.” Is this the equivalent of resigning oneself to a lifetime in Mom’s minivan?
Erin: Laura’s resignation is tempered with wild hope. You know it’s serious when you don’t take off your brown poplin.
Sandra: Right you are! Almanzo is back! And the seat next to him is empty! He does a great job of playing the clueless man, as a clueless man.
Erin: Oh, Almanzo. You were smacked down, and you know it.
Sandra: Now we have regular Sunday drives, where the 19th-century horn beeping earns nary a grunt from Pa and a warning to be home on time from Ma. They pick bouquets of roses together. Romance!
Erin: A buggy full of roses. Bow chicka bow bow.
Sandra: Then Almanzo—how sweet of him to remember!—surprises our heroine with dear, sweet, merry Ida. The girls gather roses while they may, oohing and aahing over the twin lakes, and, of course, gossiping. Ida’s got her Elmer, and Cap has looked westward for new love, while Mary Power now likes the bank teller. Is it just as easy to laugh in the summertime?
Erin: Do I detect a tiny bit of jealousy in Laura’s exclamation about Cap?
Sandra: Oh, SNAP indeed.
Erin: Oh, CAP? Hmm. Oh yeah, the drive with Ida. Almanzo is tuned into Laura’s every sigh. Now they’re discussing…the wild thing. Okay, wild things and the pioneer instinct to shoot them dead. SWOON.
Sandra: Secret eyes behind Ida’s oblivious (but merry) head! I can’t stand it.
Erin: This secure robe-tucking is just too-too.
Oh SNAP, that was just too-too much fun on a Friday afternoon…stay tuned for next week’s installment. Props to you ladies on a job “well done!”
You two are just TOO too-too! Love the conversational review, ladies!
Hilarious! You guys, do more dialogues! I almost spit out my corn dodgers.
Just read your (Sandra Hume and Erin Blakemore’s) absolutely hilarious comic sketch on Chapter 20: Nellie Oleson. You two are so funny, you just made my day. Plus you bring back all the excitement I had as a young girl reading that chapter! Please DO this for the Laurapalooza for our entertainment–it would be so funny! (Just previously posted this in the wrong place–then found this–but then others can see too 🙂
Lol! Brilliant! Glad I got my internet switched back on in the nick of time for this, and look forward to catching up with the rest of the readalong. Sandra, I can’t believe you never noticed the ‘ride in a wagon all her life’ line before! I’ve muttered that to myself through many a relationship crisis – till I realised the solution is: buy your own buggy (yes, yes, I am for women’s rights, like Eliza). Yay to the idea of you two doing a dialogue at LP, that would be fab 🙂
But if Laura bought her own buggy, who would provide the cash for Mary’s organ? LOL
Love the recap. I would love to know Almanzo’s take on the ride. I would wonder if this was Eliza’s last chance at not having Laura for a sister in law, but then I realized I wasn’t sure who was Genieve Masters and who was Stella Gilbert in the story.
Random thought – Stella’s brother is one of the nameless suitors, isn’t he? So way to show her that the family doesn’t count, Laura.
If she bought a buggy, she’d have to buy at least one horse too. And take care of the horse(s). If you think being a fashionable young lady with a multi-layered brown poplin was hard work, being a fashionable young lady with a brown poplin, a horse and a buggy would be practically back-breaking.
It was Stella Gilbert that was in the buggy with Almanzo & Laura, not Nellie or Genevieve Masters.
Land sakes. That was more fun than a Friday night Literary!
I never caught Almanzo’s ever-so-subtle notice that his rival (Cap) was not available after Laura kicked her rival out of the buggy before this.
they may be old, but I love these chapter reviews.
Often wondered, what Almanzo thought of her making his horses almost runaway (doesn’t she do that twice in this book?). Is she that confident he can control them? Or perhaps runaway horse and buggies don’t flip over in real life as easily as they do in B westerns.
Runaways in harness are always dangerous and potentially fatal (even today if you go to a driving workshop this is stressed), which is why Manly got those horses so cheaply.
However, if you are going to deal with runaways, I can’t think of anywhere better than the wide, flat, open prairies. Usually the danger is, as you say, flipping over and/or getting entangled and dragged. If you don’t have to turn or avoid obstacles, the danger is far less.
One of the many, many reasons I love the Little House books so much is that all the farming details are so correct.
About Manly’s annoyance with her prompting the horses to bolt — I imagine he knew what she was doing and was amused. He clearly wasn’t too worried about the horses running.
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