I first met Sarah Agnes Prine — the main character in many of author Nancy E. Turner’s books — in These is My Words. In that particular book, Sarah tells her story about life in the Arizona territory in the late 1800s through a diary she kept of her daily life. I found Turner’s writing to be lovely, and her protagonist Sarah to be, well, fetching.
Since we live part of the year in Arizona to escape the winter chill of our Colorado home, I loved learning the history of my adopted state through her tales. Having done a bit of traveling in the state, I could easily recognize the areas about which she spoke. The characters in the book felt familiar as well.
Subsequent to reading These is My Words, I have read every Nancy E. Turner book written. No surprise then that I was delighted to learn that there was a new novel with Sarah Prine as a character. However, the Light Changes Everything, rather than being about Prine, is about her niece Mary Pearl Prine — as gritty and determined as her aunt Sarah.
Mary Pearl is a teenager who is smart, a talented artist, and determined to make a mark on the world. She accepts a marriage proposal from sleazy lawyer Aubrey Hanna, but insists on putting the marriage off until she returns from studying art at Wheaten College, the college she attends (thanks to financing from her family) in Illinois. The education she receives teaches her about the finer things in life, but doesn’t change who she is at the end of the day. And thankfully, she escapes life with Hanna.
Turner paints a stark and honest picture of life in the frontier, when the western states and territories were young. Facing such hurdles as snakes and unbearable hot weather and greedy men, Mary Pearl, though not the eldest of the children, is the strongest.
I love Turner’s writing and storytelling. And I love to read about life in the frontier west. It makes me glad to be living in the 21st Century.