Kara, I apologize for being so tardy in responding to you! I hope the last 2 books of the series (not including The First Four Years) were a good counterweight to the heaviness of The Long Winter! I do believe that part of Wilder’s literary genius is her ability to impart the experience of living through extreme events to her readers. The reader feels the monotony and dullness of that long winter, and even the hunger and cold as well (particularly for you in Idaho!). Similarly, Wilder’s writing makes the reader hear and feel the grasshopper swarms in On the Banks of Plum Creek and hear the pounding of the Osage war drums in Little House in the Prairie.
I just finished teaching a college honors course on Wilder’s writing, in which we read all of the novels in succession. The students had similar comments to yours about The Long Winter, enhanced I’m sure by the very long and cold winter that we had in Michigan.
Thanks for your interest in this course!