Wednesday, September 30, 2009

These is My Words - The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy Turner


A nice girl should never go anywhere without a loaded gun and a big knife.

Inspired by her own family's memoirs, Nancy Turner has brought to life one of the strongest female characters since Scarlet O'hara in Gone with the Wind. In Sarah Prine, a woman born and raised in the Arizona Territories in the late 1800's, we have an unlikely heroine of the ages, as we follow her teenage years on the harsh pioneer trails, her dedication to improving herself by learning to read and write, her ability to take on extreme challenges, death even, straight on in the face, and eventually while she raises her own family during a time when being on your own really meant just that. A time when you did what you had to to survive, or you died. It was as simple as that.

If the center of this story is Sarah Prine, then the biggest star that revolves around her is Captain Jack Elliott, probably the best male lead character I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. And not because he's perfect. Because he isn't, in fact he's far from it. He loves Sarah, yet remains ever more who he is, and I liked him better for it. Their relationship was engrossing to the point of distraction, it was heart felt, overwhelming, tender beyond words. I shudder even now as my mind returns to it again. It's so good, it lingers long after it's gone, like the hovering scent of a really mouthwatering chocolate chip cookie that you'd eaten hours before.

Turner has said she pictured a younger Sam Elliott as the Captain. Is it really hard to see why? This guy is the quintessential cowboy. And that mustache? Oh my!

This is a really good book. I liked it for a multitude of reasons. I come from pioneer stock on both sides of my family so I could appreciate the honest telling of the sacrifice and hardship that went into the making of the early American West. Turner doesn't sugar coat these experiences in the least here. The diary format took some getting used to, but it was faithful to the time period, and remained that way until the end of the book. No dialogue in quotes here, and for me it made the writing more effective, like a real diary. Like I really was perusing a dusty and yellowed slice of history. Maybe something I'd found hidden in my attic in an old rust-covered trunk.

When asked if she had further reading suggestions, Nancy Turner has said:
The best book is one that ends with an almost audible gasp, an immediate twinge, that "oh, no, it's really over," combined with the hollowness of letting go, and a slightly bitter, envious voice from somewhere that murmurs, "I wish I'd written that!"

Here here, Ms. Turner.
Mission accomplished.
4.5 stars
(Thanks for the quotes Suzette!)

And check out a Book Review Blog Party below -

CymLowell

7 comments:

Allison said...

This is one of my favorite all time books..I lived in Tucson for 23yrs..and it was cool to be familiar with parts of the book. Have you read the next 2 books in the series?..they are just as good!

Great review (long Sam Elliot pic too)!!!

Lula O said...

I haven't read the other two yet. I hear that she suffers even more hardship in them and I'm trying to decide if I can take it! So you think they're worth it then?

Hey, were you a pecan farmer? ;)
How fun that you are familiar with the area. What a beautiful place it must be.
Thanks for stopping by!

Allison said...

Yes, I definitely believe they are worth a read!! Yes, more hardship, but I love the strong woman theme!!! I think I read that she may be doing a fourth book!! Im hoping!!

And no..didn't live on pecan farm..but went by one every day to work!!!

Lula O said...

Wow, to have my own pecan tree..
Now that would be sweet!

Cym Lowell said...

Great Blog! Thanks for joining in the Book Review Blog Party.

Stay tuned for Friday AM, when I announce the winner of the Amazon GC.

Again, I have enjoyed reading your blog and I am now a follower!

Warms-CYM

The Bradfords said...

Amen, Sister, amen. I just love this book. I've now read it four times and I still gasp at the end (even if I don't really read the entire ending....) The strength of Sarah Prine and the deliciousness (is that a word?) of Jack Elliott make this a fabulous book. I was anxious to see your review and you didn't disappoint. Maybe someday I'll have enough in me to let go of the first one and read the other two books. Do love that Jack Elliott.

Lula O said...

Cym - Thanks for stopping by! I'm happy to participate and see what other people are reading.

Suzette - Yes, I believe I'll pretend blissful ignorance as well! Whatever helps me sleep at night.
Sigh..
It was a great book.