If you like historical fiction, you will absolutely adore this book - it is a must read. This novel is loosely based on the family journals of the author, and the entire story is based from Sarah Agnes Prine's point of view in the Arizona Territory from 1881-1901.
Inspired by the author's original family memoirs, this absorbing story introduces us to the questing, indomitable Sarah Prine, one of the most memorable women ever to survive and prevail in the Arizona Territory of the late 1800s. As a child, a fiery young woman, and finally a caring mother, Sarah forges a life as full and fascinating as our deepest needs, our most secret hopes, and our grandest dreams. She rides Indian-style and shoots with deadly aim, greedily devours a treasure trove of leatherbound books, dreams of scarlet velvet and pearls, falls uneasily in love, and faces down fire, flood, Comanche raids, and other mortal perils with the unique courage that forged the character of the American West. This action-packed novel is also the story of a powerful, enduring love between Sarah and the dashing cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot. Neither the vast distances traveled nor the harsh and killing terrains could quench the passion between them, and the loss and loneliness both suffer only strengthen their need for each other. While their love grows, the heartbreak and wonder of the frontier experience unfold in scene after scene: a wagon-train Sunday spent roasting quail on spits as Indians close in to attack; Sarah's silent encounter with an Indian brave, in which he shows her his way of respect; a dreadful discovery by a stream that changes Sarah forever; the hazards of a visit to Phoenix, a town as hot as the devil's frying pan; Sarah's joy in building a real home, sketching out rooms and wraparound porches. Sarah's story leads us into a vanished world that comes vividly to life again, while her struggles with work and home, love and responsibility resonate with those every woman faces today.
Well, if you couldn't tell by the opening, I cannot gush enough about this book. Beyond an amazing way with words, Nancy Turner's writing style is so enthralling - and her use of dialect really made this story a home-run.
I am amazed at what our ancestors who traveled out west went through, and how their perseverance and courage led our country towards the life we enjoy today. I have always wanted to experience crossing the country by wagon, and enduring the struggles, challenges, and successes that life had to offer, but after reading this I think I am complete just experiencing it through Turner's words.
Sarah is a one-of-a-kind character...she is so strong, and so passionate about what is important (family, kids, love, and home) that her morals can't help but translate through to the reader - and frankly, society today could use a little more "Sarah" in their lives.
I was also struck at how much children of this time period had to go through, and how their experiences would make kids today crumble on the spot. What have we as a society and culture lost that we are so shut-down by the smallest failure or challenge anymore? With all the problems we cower away from, I wonder how the spirit of our pioneers was lost in us?
Back to the book, and away from solving all the world's problems, I strongly recommend this novel - and the best part is that it is part of a trilogy so there are two more amazing "Sarah" adventures coming my way!
"Mama got her feather's ruffles and said the good book don't teach signs and suspicions and made me read the Old Testament out loud to her most of the afternoon on the road."
"Girl, there's never any turning back in life. But don't you worry, he says, The Lord is watching over us. Then I felt real hollow and low and mean. If He is watching us, I wish He'd lend a hand now and then."
"I will have to learn to be a righteous example of piety and purity, virtuous to a fault, kind and sharing, if I am to be the Happy Bride in the book. Bible study is the first importance in being a wife."
"After a couple of hours the children begin playing. They just cannot be sad too long, it is not in them, as children mourn in little bits here and there like patchwork in their lives."
"There was a kind of strength in it, in being together, that was stronger than being alone."
"And one for the heart, where the wounds are deepest."
"I think Ma'am, that he'll be just fine in a couple of weeks. In the war, we'd have just patched him up and given him a toddy and send him back to the front tomorrow." "Well, I thought, and you lost the war too, but I didn't say it to him"
"Taking up marriage is a good excuse for taking up cursing, I think."
"Where a man's treasure is, there is his heart also."
"Crying over that man is a waste of water. And I still have to go to the outhouse again."
"Education doesn't keep a person from being a fool, and the lack of it doesn't keep a person from being intelligent."
"I told her I was a wife and mother and she said, Does that make you stupid?"
"Mama told me to make a special point to remember the best times of my life. There are so many hard things to live through, and latching on to the good things will give you the strength to endure."
"I never set my cap for you. You just followed me around like a bird dog 'til I couldn't do anything but marry you."
"Taking a school test is a new way to be afraid, and takes the knees right out from under you. If I'm riding a horse and get thrown, it's just a matter of getting back on. And if I'm fighting for my life, there's only living and dying to choose from. But taking that test, that's like showing other people the inside of your thoughts, and just waiting for them to say wrong, wrong, wrong, and you can have a thought that seems right but since you never went to school, maybe it isn't."