From Little Houses to Little Women is a memoir about the influence of classic children’s literature on childhood imagination and the ways that landscapes and imagination intertwine.
Part travel narrative, part reading memoir, part literary and cultural commentary, Nancy returns to beloved books from her childhood and travels to places related to favorite authors:
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Maud Hart Lovelace
- Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Louisa May Alcott
Along the way, Nancy examines the ways books shaped her and whole generations of readers.
From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood is a triple delight. Nancy McCabe takes her readers on nostalgic journeys back into those books that she and many of us read as children, as well as on literal journeys to the settings of those stories and the homes of their authors. At the same time, she presents her childhood responses to works by Wilder, Montgomery, Dickinson, Lovelace, and others, as well as her skillful assessment as an English professor. This layered approach to the literature is both provocative and satisfying. From Little Houses to Little Women is beautifully written, and McCabe is a frank, enlightening, down-to-earth, and immensely likeable traveling companion.” — Lisa Knopp, What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte
As a practicing writer of fiction, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of childhood reading. How enlightening it has been to read Nancy McCabe’s account here, to share and compare both our childhood experiences and adult ruminations! Nancy’s account of her car tour with her daughter inspired me to make my own visit to Mansfield, MO, where Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House books. Childhood reading did more than delight; it resonates in who we are today.” — Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife; Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette; The Fountain of St. James Court, or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman
McCabe examines the lasting significance of selected children’s classics in her own life and the lives of generations of young readers. . . . As McCabe’s literary journeys unfold, she explores the duality of rereading favorite childhood titles, shifting back and forth in time between her initial memories and experiences with these books, and her more informed perceptions as a critical adult reader. She also examines the contrast between real and fictional places, lingering on the sometimes disturbing gulf between the two and the more fascinating intersections where fiction and reality overlap. . . .
McCabe’s observations about Wilder’s books and the people who embrace them are often original and insightful. She persuasively argues that Wilder’s characters have a modern richness and depth that defies popular perceptions. . . .McCabe’s examination of Alcott, Lovelace, and Montgomery also includes literary pilgrimages. . . .[her] insight into these authors and their continuing influence is illuminating. She also prevents provocative discussions about a wide range of children’s books, from Nancy Drew to Harriet the Spy, from the Jennifer series to the Childhood of Famous Americans biographies. . . .McCabe’s fascinating memoir is just one of many ways to explore these classic and important American authors.” — Pamela Smith Hill, Missouri Historical Review, July 2015 (Vol. 109, No. 4)
From Little Houses to Little Women brings a refreshing new thoughtfulness to the familiar, comforting act of revisiting our favorite childhood books. McCabe’s insightful readings and wryly observed travelogue make this an essential book for any classic children’s literature fan.” — Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie