I’m sure many of you have read at least one book from the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is almost a rite of passage or required reading for a young girl. I haven’t read all of the books, maybe 3, but I always enjoyed reading them. Did you know that there are several companion series to the Laura Years based on the other women in her family? There are the Martha Years (about her great-grandmother Martha Morse), the Charlotte Years (about her grandmother Charlotte Tucker), the Caroline Years (about her mother Caroline Quinner) and the Rose Years (about her daughter Rose Wilder). I have read a couple of these as well and have heartily enjoyed them and am now making it my mission to finish reading/reviewing the whole collection – now that I own them all. I wanted to take this time to introduce you to the Martha Years – as this will be the first series I will be reading.
The Martha Years cover the childhood (age 6-10) of Martha Morse in Scotland and is written by Melissa Wiley (pen name for author Melissa Peterson, will go into that a little later). Martha is the youngest daughter of the Laird and we get to explore all different aspects of life in Scotland in the late 1770’s to early 1780’s. She is quite the little spitfire.
I know several of you have asked it the past about how historical these books are and if they are really about members of Laura’s family. I was able to ferret out some information at Melissa Wiley’s website about this. Here is a Q&A answer from Wiley’s site about the historical information:
“Martha Morse and Charlotte Tucker were real people. We don't know much about the real Martha; what little we do know is from a letter written by Laura's sister, Grace Ingalls Dow. Grace wrote that her great-grandmother, Martha Morse, was the daughter of a Scottish laird who married someone the family considered beneath her station. We know that Martha and Lew married in Boston on Jan. 1, 1799.
For Martha's childhood I had to do even more imagining! That's why these books are historical fiction, not biography. We didn't know much about her family except that bit about her father being a laird. I had a wonderful researcher in Edinburgh who helped me look up the details big and small that would bring Martha's story to life. I worked hard to present an accurate picture of what life in that time, place, and situation might have been like for her.
Loch Caraid and Glencaraid are fictional places. I could show you on a map exactly where I imagine them to be! Look for the town of Crieff: that's a real village I mention several times in Martha's stories.” (from Melissa Wiley’s website).There are four books in the Martha Years series – it sounds like there were supposed to be more but the publisher “decided to go a different way”. The books are: Little House in the Highlands Book 1, On the Far Side of the Loch Book 2, Down to the Bonny Glen Book 3, and Beyond the Heather Hills Book 4.
A bit of trivia for you – the Martha, Charlotte, and Caroline Years are all written under pen names whose last names begin with “Wil” – Wiley, Wilkins, and Wilkes. This was done so that they would be shelved right near the Wilder authored books and the rest of the Little House girls. The Rose Years were authored by Macbride so I’m not sure what happed to the trend.
It is unfortunately difficult to get your hands on any of these companion series books for a reasonable price. They are currently out of print, so none of the booksellers (big name or indie that I contacted) can get them. If you keep your eye out on Ebay, Half.com, Alibris, etc you can find them – sometimes reasonably priced. I just finished acquiring all my own. I hope they will be put back in print at some future date. But if you can get your hands on them they are a real treat.
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