Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley

Little House in the Highlands, by Melissa Wiley, was published in 1999 by HarperCollins.

Meet Martha the little girl who would grow up to be Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother. It’s 1788, and six year old Martha lives in a little stone house in Glencraid, Scotland. Martha’s father is Laird Glencaraid, and the life of the Laird’s daughter is not always easy for a lively girl like Martha. She would rather be running barefoot through the fields of heather and listening to magical tales of fairies and other Wee Folk than learning to sew like a proper young lady. But between her dreaded sewing lessons, Martha still finds time to play on the rolling Scottish hills.

Rating: 3/5

Because of the success of the Little House books, HarperCollins commissioned more stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, as well as a series on her daughter, Rose. Growing up, the Martha, Caroline, and Charlotte Years were almost as dear to me as the Little House books. I’ve been in a “Little House mood” recently, due to reading both the fictionalized Caroline, a telling of Little House on the Prairie from Caroline’s point of view, and the fantastic Prairie Fires, a thoroughly researched biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder (and her daughter). So, I decided to start from the very beginning.

I read Little House on the Highlands I-don’t-know-how-many-times growing up, so this entire book was super familiar to me. It was a huge nostalgia trip for me, though I also tried to separate from that aspect of it and cast a more critical eye, though I’m not sure how well I succeeded.

I know almost nothing about Scottish culture and lore, so I’m not sure how well Wiley portrays it in this book, but it certainly feels authentic. There’s great fairy tales scattered throughout, and lots of descriptions of Scottish things. Wiley does her best to explain things to her reader without compromising Scottish terminology. The only thing that is a trifle put-upon are the accents, but, again, it’s used to represent that this is quite a different place and time than the one the reader is in, so it lends itself well to the setting.

Fiery little Martha is a great protagonist, and though there are a lot of other characters, they are all quite distinguishable from each other, except perhaps for Nannie and Mollie, who serve almost identical functions. There is definitely a Little House feel to Little House in the Highlands, with its extended descriptions of daily activities, way of life, and, yes, food, but it also serves quite well as a simple historical fiction. There’s no need for the reader to have read the Wilder books before this, as by itself, it stands as quite a nice little Scottish children’s book.

Recommended Age Range: 8+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Children’s, Historical Fiction

You can buy this book here:

4 thoughts on “Little House in the Highlands by Melissa Wiley

  1. Pingback: On Top of Concord Hill by Maria D. Wilkes | Leaf's Reviews

  2. Pingback: On Tide Mill Lane by Melissa Wiley | Leaf's Reviews

  3. Pingback: The Far Side of the Loch by Melissa Wiley | Leaf's Reviews

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