vlogger Kate Howe listed her favorite literary couples and most of them were teenagers. I watched her video, which included Almonzo and Laura, just before I started These Happy Golden Years.
And I have to agree with her. Their courtship is exceptionally sweet without being saccharine. Almonzo is several years older than Laura and she has trouble seeing him as a possible suitor. When she gets a teaching job 12 miles away from home, he kindly offers to pick her up and take her back each weekend so that she can see her family. She is thrilled to have a way to escape the hardships of her job and accepts, but later decides to give up these rides because she doesn't want to give him any false hopes. She showed a lot of integrity in making that tough decision and he showed just as much in his response. To her surprise, he insists on taking her back and forth anyway saying, What do you take me for? Do you think I'm the kind of fellow that'd leave you out there at Brewster's when you're so homesick just because there's nothing in it for me?
In his gentleness and persistence, he finally wins her. All the pains he takes to make the kitchen of their new home agreeable to her may not be romantic to some people. But being married to a man whose love language is "acts of service" has taught me that they were swoon-worthy.
Another aspect of the Little House books that I've enjoyed has been the underlying faith of the Ingall's family. Wilder is never pushy about Christianity, but shows it as the natural part of their daily lives. When Pa gets out his fiddle to play, he plays a mix of Scottish ballads, American folk songs and hymns. The family attends church even when they don't particularly like the preacher. They pray, trust God, and persevere through trials. When Mary comes home from college where she has learned many skills including doing bead work and reading braille, she gives hand-made gifts to each family member. Later she tells them that having memorized Bible verses as a child had helped her in her studies: Knowing them was a great help to me, Ma. I could read them so easily with my fingers in braille that I learned how to read everything sooner than anyone else in my class. "I'm glad to know that, Mary," was all that Ma said, and her smile trembled, but she looked happier than when Mary had given her the beautiful lamp mat.
This was meant to be the end of the original 8-book series and I highly recommend it as such. The ninth book, The First Four Years, was published after Wilder's death and was a rough draft that she never completed. It is completely unlike the other books in tone and was a huge disappointment.