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The Martha Years books

I was thinking about these books the other day - they are the "prequel" books to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, about her maternal grandmother. I remember going to the library - I spent a great deal of time kneeling in the W section and accidentally getting sucked into reading books there, and managed inadvertently to read far more Jacqueline Wilson than I really wanted to, incidentally - being unable to find any other books past Beyond the Heather Hills, and asking the librarian, who also couldn't find anything. Later I found out the author decided to stop writing them - I can't seem to load the original post about it, though I have found Wiley's followup post on her blog about it. She stopped writing them because HarpersCollins started publishing them in miniaturized, abridged versions.

It looks like they are not available in electronic form anywhere. I guess I shouldn't be surprised; they came out in the early 2000's and that was well before public libraries started buying e-copies and that ebooks started selling. Maybe one day they'll be digitized, but it won't be legitimately; HarpersCollins didn't back down when their author said they would stop writing them, and I doubt they would sink more money into the venture. Sigh. I'd really like to own them, but physical copies aren't really doable now, given living space and moving rapidity. This is making me feel rather melancholy. As soon as I can get a library card I'll go check them out, I suppose.

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/174075.html.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 6th, 2016 03:56 am (UTC)
You can also look for volunteer-digitized versions. There are people who do that, both "print" and audio, for blind people. I don't remember what the copyright term is on books, but once they're out of copyright, someone else will do it too, I feel sure.

What an asshole move for the publisher. Brats.
Mar. 6th, 2016 05:11 am (UTC)
Alas, they were published in the early 2000s, so even if the copyright terms stay the same (and Disney doesn't do the extension thing again) it will be a long time before they go on Project Gutenberg, I fear :(
Mar. 6th, 2016 11:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've never heard of these! I'm intrigued, but unfortunately they sound hard to acquire.
Mar. 6th, 2016 11:47 pm (UTC)
I remember loving them. I looked and they are available in hardcopy via amazon and the usual places, but I am sure libraries have them still. Or at least the systems I used have really old books--I'm pretty sure I got a 1970's copy of the Dispossessed from the library when I went looking. (and the academic library had copies of Till We Have Faces, but from the 1950's, good grief.)
Mar. 7th, 2016 03:50 am (UTC)
Oh, man, I haven't read any of the books on Martha or Caroline in years. Had no idea the author stopped writing them because they got abridged. That's such a strange thing for a publisher to do, isn't it?
Mar. 7th, 2016 04:53 am (UTC)
It's been a long time! But I was very invested in the books :)

Yes, I actually recall a lot of the Little House books got abridged in so many ways (chapter books and so on)--to me it felt like a huge proliferation of them. I think they were really gunning for the young-readers market or something, but it's such a shame. :(
Mar. 7th, 2016 05:41 am (UTC)
Wow, I have no idea how that escaped me entirely. This is the first I've heard of abridged versions. Glad I got the old copies my grammie sent me. :) Perhaps the publishers were trying to appeal to the same readers as the American Girl books?
Mar. 7th, 2016 06:10 am (UTC)
I think I happened to be in the right age bracket - I think I read one abridged out of the Long Winter sometime in grade 2-3 (interestingly, I was living in North Dakota at the time, so relevant :P)

I think so, yeah! Though personally the American Girls passed me by. I read a lot of Dear Canada books which I think are sort of similar - young girls in important or interesting historical periods?
Mar. 8th, 2016 08:13 am (UTC)
Ohhh, that's fantastic to have read the Little House book set in the same state you were living in. :D I think Dear Canada sounds to be basically the same thing as American Girls. :) I should have my sister read those as well!
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:03 am (UTC)
It was pretty cool! Did you have any favourite American Girls books/eras they lived in?
Mar. 14th, 2016 03:48 am (UTC)
My two favorite series were the Felicity books set in the Revolutionary War and the Josefina books set in (I think) the 1840's/1850's in New Mexico. Which were your favorite of the Dear Canada books?
Mar. 23rd, 2016 02:10 am (UTC)
Oh those are interesting times! The NM ones must have been interesting because of where you lived, I bet :D

I have a most memorable Dear Canada book--it was about the filles de roi, the young women who immigrated to Canada (sponsored by the king of France) to become wives to the overwhelmingly male-dominated Canada at the time. (They were trying to promote growth etc in the new colony). Anyway she gets married and they live on an island I think, in the wilderness, and then her husband suddenly DIES after eating a poisonous mushroom, and she's pregnant, and she survives the winter by herself and also has to give birth by herself. So that one really stuck in my head.
Mar. 23rd, 2016 04:46 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely, I did feel more of a kinship to Josefina because so much of her culture is rooted in NM and AZ. Made me wonder if a girl lived a similar life on the same soil I grew up on, 200 years ago. :)

Anyway she gets married and they live on an island I think, in the wilderness, and then her husband suddenly DIES after eating a poisonous mushroom, and she's pregnant, and she survives the winter by herself and also has to give birth by herself. So that one really stuck in my head.

Oh, that is an incredible story, alright. Such spirit and gumption! Can you imagine basically being a mail-order bride? I just, my mind sputters at traveling so far to marry a guy I've never met.
Mar. 13th, 2016 07:22 pm (UTC)
Was Martha the one living in the 1700s?

And bummer you can't find them, are they not even available as used copies on Amazon or something?
Mar. 14th, 2016 12:02 am (UTC)
I think so. I read them when I was smaller and did not know much about dates, just that it was long ago! XD

They are available as hard copies on Amazon, fortunately--I'm just not in a place where I can accumulate physical books (I have just moved twice in the past six months though I should be staying put for awhile now). I hope the library has them.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )



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