Monday, 14 February 2011

These is my words - The diary of Sarah Agnes Prine

     net_book_these.jpg (23057 bytes) These is my words - The diary of Sarah Agnes Prine

This is not chick-lit.  The author, Nancy Turner, got this book exactly right, she did some exceptional research, but the thing that impresses the most is that the journal, which is an important part of Sarah's life, is started when she is 17 or 18, not very well read,  and cannot write particularly well.  It shows.  The sentences are short, and she writes in the vernacular.  As she gains knowledge, and acquires books, including a dictionary, and someone helps her to read well, she can then become more elequent and the entries in her journal improve accordingly.  The journal takes her from a young girl on a wagon train from New Mexico eastwards through Texas, and then, when her father is dead, a brother has lost a leg, and her mother has retreated to a world of her own, back in the other direction to Tucson, Arizona.  The timescale is about twenty years, from the early 1880's up until 1901, when the west was still dangerous, but the last of the Indians were being put onto reservations, and the great Geronimo was to be found and arrested for the last time.
Descriptions of death, childbirth,and a hard life in general, pull no punches, but the book is gem.  Sarah, having lost a parent, a sibling, and various friends, is a strong character, able to shoot (indeed, at one point she kills two white men who are raping a young teenager without a thought), and is loved by a man she does not care for.  She marries the first man who asks her, produces a child and is a ranch woman who knows nothing of love and the care of a soulmate until she is widowed.  The man who has always loved her then makes his case......
If you like historic drama  you may like to try this one.  It made me smile and it made me cry (not a sign of weakness, but no mean feat for a book).  The description of her first night with the man who truly loves her involves her first and last drink of hard liquor, so that he can tell her things about himself that she should know, but does not, yet.  That entry in the journal is a lovely piece of writing.   And he quotes the Song of Solomon whilst he bathes her " ...behold thou art fair...." .
The author Mary Stewart says that "this is right up there with To Kill a Mockingbird" .  I don't know if that's right, but it was a book I enjoyed reading and recommend it to you.