Friday Book Whimsy: These is My Words

I love books that take place during the days of the pioneers. Oh, I know. We aren’t supposed to like pioneers any more. I can’t help it. I find that period fascinating. I had an unusual break between books that have been pouring in from the library as of late. I took the opportunity to reread a book that I read many moons ago, and really enjoyed: These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, by Nancy E. Turner.

One of the reasons I enjoyed the book the first time — and again this time — is because it takes place in the Arizona Territory in the late 1880s. Since I am a part-time resident of Arizona, I am particularly interested how that uniquely-western state was founded.

The book is unusual in that it is written entirely as a journal. The journal’s author is young Sarah Prine, who documents her family’s travels from their original home in the northwest United States to the Arizona Territory. Land was available at a cheap rate for those brave enough to face the obvious dangers and willing to work hard.

In addition, the diary continues after they have settled and become successful ranchers. Their imminent success didn’t come easy, and the tales she tells of Indian attacks and robbers and rattlesnakes and birthing children in the wilderness are as interesting as they are horrifying. I enjoyed every word of the book.

The author goes on to write two more novels, making the books a trilogy. Sarah’s Quilt and The Star Garden are equally good, at least as I remember.

The books make me glad I live in the 21st Century, even with a pandemic.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: Light Changes Everything

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.

Here is a link to the book.

 

 

Friday Book Whimsy: My Name is Resolute

imgresI first became acquainted with author Nancy E. Turner from a trilogy she wrote about Sarah Prine, a fictitious Arizona settler, whose stories are based on the author’s real-life great-grandmother. These is My Words, Sarah’s Quilt, and The Star Garden are wonderful books that tell about the settling of the area around Tucson and beyond back in the 1800s through Sarah’s diary.

In the way that sometimes happens when you read as much as I, the author fell off my radar screen until recently, when I learned about the intriguingly titled My Name is Resolute. I won’t kid you; it had a really slow start for me. I drudgingly made my way through nearly 100 pages before the story caught me and didn’t let me go. If you read this book, you will likely ask yourself how on earth it couldn’t capture me from the get-go, and I don’t have a good answer.

The story is filled to the brim with interesting characters and every kind of adventure that you could possibly imagine – Indians, pirates, pioneers, Scottish highlanders, good people, bad people, and soldiers from both sides of the Revolutionary War.

In 1729, 10-year-old Resolute Talbot, her sister Patience and her brother Andrew are kidnapped by pirates from their home in Jamaica. Her parents are British nobility who relocated to that island. Their parents are killed in the attack, and the three begin their life of great hardship and sorrow – being kept as slaves — leading ultimately to adventure and excitement. They eventually land in the New World, first Montreal and eventually Lexington, Massachusetts.

My Name is Resolute is an epic novel full of swashbuckling adventures. Eventually, Resolute settles in Lexington, marries, raises a family, and plays an important role in the years before and during America’s War for Independence.

It’s perhaps somewhat tasteless to describe a novel as full of sadness as this as being fun, but it was, indeed, just that. Resolute is a character that I will long remember, as are the others. Strong-willed and self-sufficient, even as a young girl, the novel allows us to see her grow up to be a strong and independent woman. I loved seeing what the world was like during that period of time.

The author is a marvelous writer, and her words could have been written in the mid- to-late 1700s, they read so true to life.

It is a long book, so settle down for a lengthy adventure.

Here is a link to the book.

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