Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 199
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a biography of the renowned pioneer woman, and acclaimed author of the Little House on the Prairie series of children's books. It is told by Pulitzer Prize novelist Caroline Fraser. Fraser holds a PhD in American literature, and so the book is rigorously researched so as to pierce through the facade presented in Little House on the Prairie. It traces the childhood and adulthood of Laura Ingalls Wilder, second of five children, who moved with her family throughout the American Midwest (from Wisconsin to Kansas to Minnesota, to South Dakota to Missouri). The greatest challenges were her marriage to Almanzo Wilder, who bravely volunteered to retrieve a crop of wheat while living in De Smet, South Dakota; droughts which often plagued the family's homestead; and fires on the prairie and at their barns continually thwarted her family's upward mobility.
In addition to revealing many unrevealed truths about the author's parents and husband and detailing a fraught relationship with her daughter, the novel also portrays a vivid and personal image of the Homestead Act of 1862. It reads like a comprehensive but scintillating biography of a tumultuous period of American history.