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These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.) Paperback – April 1, 2008
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A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author's own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon—from child to determined young adult to loving mother—she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose. Rich in authentic everyday details and alive with truly unforgettable characters, These Is My Words brilliantly brings a vanished world to breathtaking life again.
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Sarah's story spans 20 years, from her coming-of-age as a teenager in a trek with her family across the Arizona and New Mexico territories to Texas, to her tragic farewell to the love of her life, Captain Jack Elliot, in Tucson, AZ. Between is a tale of struggle that rivals that of any woman in any century. Sarah is no feminist -- she is just determined to get herself and her family through thick and thin -- yet her struggle is no less epic than any of ours a century or so later. She has no illusions about her personal beauty or intellect, and yet through her struggles and the family that loves her, we come to see Sarah as they do, a tall thin goddess of the earth, a "General" (as her husband Jack teasingly calls her) in the face of isolation, illness, personal tragedy, and the unspeakable horror of the wars large and small fought in the southwest territories of the US in the late 19th century. She learns to hold close her friends of any color or nationality or language; she guards her children and her family with the fierceness of a mother bear; and she comes into her deep love for her husband only after much distrust and wariness.
Her story in this book ends at age 37, after 20 years of her journal, through which we watch this unschooled young woman grow into a formidable intellect and a lyrical writer. Somewhere after age 30 she passes her 12-grade equivalency test, given by the US Board of Education Normal School, with a 94 and one-half percent score, after having thought she had failed it, after having agonized over having even attempted it. If there is any key to Sarah's psyche, it is her deep (and unfounded) insecurities about her own capabilities, contradicted by her constant reaching for perfection.
As this book ends (and thankfully there IS a sequel) Sarah does something so out of character that we know it for the radical shift it is; on the Sunday morning after Jack's funeral, in the buggy on the way to church, she turns around and goes home and starts packing to move her household from her big, beautiful house in town, back to her plain and homey ranch in the country.
So the first book ends with a powerful statement about both grief and resurrection: Sarah will never get over loving and losing Jack Elliot, but she isn't going to sit around for the rest of her life and get beat up by life, or by anyone else. We leave Sarah in this first book dressed in black, yet reaching for the future.
Warning: it's a 3-hanky ending. Sarah and Jack Elliot are something special. Be prepared to grieve with her.
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I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it.
I am not usually a reader so that tells you this book really caught my...Read more