Wednesday, June 24, 2020

These Is My Words - Nancy E. Turner

It only took 11 years, but I finally got around to reading the novel Melissa McCurdy guest reviewed in glowing fashion for us back in 2009 -- These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881-1901 Arizona Territories.  really wish I hadn't waited so long.

Summary:  Inspired by the author's original family memoirs, this absorbing story introduces us to the questing, indomitable Sarah Prine, one of the most memorable women ever to survive and prevail in the Arizona Territory of the late 1800s.  As a child, a fiery young woman, and finally a caring mother, Sarah forges a life as full and fascinating as our deepest needs, our most secret hopes, and our grandest dreams.

Rich in authentic details of daily life and etched with striking character portraits of very different pioneer families, this action packed novel is also the story of a powerful enduring love between Sarah and the dashing cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot. While their love grows, the heartbreak and wonder of the frontier experience unfold in scene after scene.

Sarah's incredible story leads us into a vanished world that comes vividly to life again, while her struggles with work and home, love and responsibility resonate with those every woman faces today.  These is My Words is a passionate celebration of a remarkable life, exhilarating and gripping from first page to last.  (Summary from inside cover - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  When I was young, my mother read the entire Little House series to my sister and I. You may have heard of them. As a result, I became enamored with the whole idea of 'old-fashioned' living; how this young family could pack up all their belongings in a wagon and move from place to place, build a new home each time they did, eke out a living from the land and their own labors, and endure all manner of hardships in the process, was nearly unfathomable to my young mind.  I was hooked and read the same series to my children at the first opportunity.  If you felt the same way about the Little House series as a child, I have no doubt you will fall head over heels for These is My Words as an adult.  It is a richly descriptive and thoroughly riveting story with a grown-up Little House feel.

Although These is My Words is actually a novel, it reads like the real-life diary of seventeen-year-old Sarah Prine as her family travels via wagon on an often-perilous trail as they attempt to settle and make a life for themselves in the Arizona territories.  At first, I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle the character's somewhat uneducated way of writing, but it helped authenticate the story and in a matter of few pages I no longer noticed it.   Like most diaries, the entries offer brief glimpses into Sarah's life on the trail, finding love, building a home, raising a family, and overcoming trials along the way. You'd think that a diary about someone's day-to-day existence might be boring, but it really wasn't.  Not even a little bit.  Her life was hard, but it was also suspenseful, romantic, harrowing, hilarious, and heart-wrenching.

Sarah is an incredibly fun character -- spirited, stubborn, besotted with books, and a crack shot with a pistol. In short, she was everything I would hope to be were I a woman born in the late 1800s. I loved her quick temper, her seemingly rapid mood swings, her growth throughout the book, and the sweet romance that developed between her and another character after a number of frustrating hurdles.  Overall, These is My Words was such an engrossing read.  I felt like a silent spectator sent back in time to observe this one woman and enjoyed every minute of it.  As we head into summer, I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good book to read.  If they happen to love history, LHOTP, and spunky heroines, so much the better!

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  There are number of of deaths caused by hardship and assorted weaponry, some native american vs. settler violence, minimal swearing in a terminal situation, a rape, attempted rape, and some so-mild-as-to-almost-be-nonexistent sexual situations.  The author is very good at keeping things nondescript.  For example, sex is often referred to as simply "loving" with no additional details. Blink and you miss it. 

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