These Happy Golden Years is probably my favorite of the Little House books. It covers about 3-years of Laura’s life – from 15 to 18 years old. Many things happen: Laura gets a teaching certificate and teaches 3 terms, she realizes that she can earn money and likes it so she sews, housesits, etc.
But, what this book is really about is Almanzo and Laura’s story. In the previous book it became clear that Almanzo was interested. Here, though, he expresses that interest more clearly and, frankly, works his butt off to earn his place in her heart. If he was truly as wonderful as she portrays him, then he was a keeper. When she gets her first teaching assignment and is miserable boarding with a family several miles away, he picks her up every Friday after school, takes her home and then back to school on Sunday. He buys her a surprise Christmas gift for the tree at church, allows her to drive the horses as she wants (and trusts her with them), agrees that she shouldn’t say that she will obey him in her vows and then builds her a nice house with many special details just for her. He’s a dreamy book boyfriend.
My favorite scenes, though, were when Laura either got jealous (which was kind of funny because she wasn’t even sure she thought of him that way) and when she made her feelings clear:
- Nellie Oleson finally makes her move on Almanzo and manipulates her way into Sunday rides with him and Laura. The 2nd week of this, Laura has had enough and she intentionally allows a blanket to snap in the wind so that it will scare the horses and make them run wildly. She’s used to this as she helped Almanzo break the horses but Nellie becomes scared. Of course, Almanzo likes a girl who loves horses so Laura was pretty smart and not a little devious to do this. She tells Almanzo later that she doesn’t want any more rides if Nellie is joining them. The next Sunday he comes for her alone. Ha!!
- At one point, Almanzo tries to put his arm around Laura. It was pretty innocent but Laura was having none of that. She tried to signal that he should move his arm by moving around a little but he didn’t take the hint. So, once again, she used the horses. She wiggled the reins so they would start to run and he would need both hands to handle them. He calls her a little devil when she does that.
- After several years of courtship, he asks Laura if she would accept an engagement ring. She said “it depends on who it came from”. “What if it were from me,” he says. “Then I guess it depends on the ring.” She made me laugh out loud with this one. When she accepts his ring the following week, she finally allows him to kiss her.
This was a wonderful book. 5/5 stars.