cover image Laura’s Shadow

Laura’s Shadow

Allison Pittman. Barbour, $12.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-63609-350-5

Pittman’s enjoyable latest (after The Lady in Residence) dives into the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. In 1890s South Dakota, Mariah Patterson pines after the handsome Oscar “Cap” Garland, but he’s carrying a torch for Laura Ingalls, who was Mariah’s schoolteacher before marrying Cap’s friend Almanzo Wilder. Mariah is courted by Merrill Gowan, an amiable but dull bachelor whom Mariah’s uninterested in until a fateful night with Cap leads her to realize Merrill might be the answer to her prayers. In 1970s Minneapolis, Mariah’s great-granddaughter Trixie Gowan works at a small newspaper where her Lost Laura comic about her adjustment to city life garners attention from national outlets. However, after Trixie receives word that her 104-year-old great-grandmother is dying, she rushes home to South Dakota. To make peace with the past, Mariah discloses long-held secrets, including her grudge against Laura Ingalls for her unflattering fictionalized portrayal of Mariah in the book These Happy Golden Years, as well as the truth about what happened between Mariah and Cap. Pittman’s appreciation of the Little House series shines through as she pays homage to the books while offering a fresh perspective on them, notably by imagining rich backstories for the minor Ingalls characters Cap and Mariah (named Martha in the original). Little House devotees will delight in this. (Aug.)