I can't believe it took me this long to write about this series. It's the Big One...taking up a great deal of my childhood, from the books to the television series.
I loved every single one of these books, although The First Four Years was slightly depressing, and I guess so was The Long Winter. But I really had no problem reading about hardships from the comfort of my air conditioned bedroom - most of my big reading was done in the summer.
It was fun to compare the books with the TV series. The real Pa had a beard: Michael Landon had an afro and very active tear ducts. Mary handled going blind gradually like an angel: TV Mary was hysterical. I guess the main difference was the melodramatics, but that certainly didn't stop me from watching the show, pretty much in reruns.
The description of school life on the prairie was daunting. They seemed to have a lot stricter regiment of learning and memorization than we had in the City of New York. Everything was harder for the "homesteaders", "pioneers", whatever you like, but they complained very little and were much more thankful for little things. Nothing was wasted.
Most of all I loved the courtship of Laura and Almanzo (can you say that name with a straight face?) If you see real photographs of the couple, they may have looked stern as so many photos in the past portrayed people, but not bad looking at that.
And I found the real Nellie Oleson to be slightly more diabolical than the TV one, in a subtler way. (Names have been changed.)