Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Official Fan Fiction: Mary Ingalls On Her Own

Mary Ingalls on her Own by Elizabeth Cody KimmelElizabeth Kimmel (Willard) extends the story of Laura Ingall's family with her story of Mary's life at the college for the blind in Iowa, Mary Ingalls On Her Own. Although Kimmel's vision of Mary differs a bit from my own -- I wouldn't have given her the same insecurities, or the same wish to be more like Laura, she gives a good sense of what life might have been like at the school, with the restrictions on students and the expected course of study and so on.

As an adult, the simple pulse of problem -- solution -- lesson learned is very predictable, but I bet I wouldn't have complained at all as a child; this would have been a swiftly gobbled up book that didn't require much investment. I did feel sympathy for the villain of the book, a girl still very bitter about her blindness who attacks Mary's more philosophical approach with the warning that she'll never be independent or have her own life.  The biographical information reveals that this was actually true -- Mary lived with her younger sisters all her life and never had a family of her own.

Although as a kid I rooted for Laura and felt Mary's goody-two-shoes approach was priggish and annoying, it was a bit disappointing to see Mary back off from that in this book. I vaguely remember a conversation between the girls in their teens when Mary explains that she was indeed a prig and regrets her sense of moral superiority, but in this book Mary bemoans her lack of spunk in a way that doesn't fit my mental picture at all, but then I haven't reread the originals in a while and I bet Kimmel's story is more true to the facts. I was happy to have picked this book for my Reading My Library quest.

Also -- Iowa! Score another state!

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