I’ll be honest when I say that I normally ignore the ‘Recommended for you’ books on Goodreads. I’d rather have a recommendation from a friend or blogging buddy. However, I was getting desperate to finish my When Are You Reading? Challenge for 2014 and I needed a book set between 1889 and 1909. So when I saw this book (and it’s sub-title), I decided to make an exception because Goodreads was handing me the book that could finish my challenge. Win.
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
I almost wrote this book off from the beginning but I was stuck on a plane with no other options and followed through. The narration used poor grammar at the beginning but as the character became more educated, her word choice and subject-verb agreement greatly improved. It became readable. In truth, it was more than readable, it was engrossing. I would have given this book a full 5 stars if it wasn’t for the difficult beginning.
This book was a sort of Little House on the Prairie for adults. I loved the characters in it and it helped me see the development of the west in a very unique way. Sarah was a great narrator. She was strong and dynamic. Jack was easily my favorite because of his fierce love for Sarah and his family. I liked that they didn’t have a perfect marriage and that Jack was equally devoted to his job. It was very believable. Savannah was a great character, too. She held to her beliefs very strongly and even in the face of uncertainty, trusted in God and her husband to protect her and provide for her when she needed it.
Jack was so easy for a reader to fall in love with. Before he and Sarah confessed to their feelings, I was silently screaming at my book, “He loves you!” I wanted to smack Sarah over the head for not instantly falling in love with such an awesome man. He was such a gentleman and very lovable. But I eventually got it my way, so it was fine.
It was hard to relate to the characters in this book because their very different lifestyle and the things that had to be important to them because of the time period. Sarah was very much a product of her time and while I liked her and respected her, she was nothing like me and her problems were very different from my own.
I liked when Sarah and Jack visited his father. It was such a contrast to see Sarah travel via train instead of in the caravans she used at the beginning of the book. Her life had changed so drastically from the poverty she lived through at the beginning via her hard work that seeing her in such luxury felt right. It’s nice to see someone who worked so hard and suffered so much finally rewarded.
I hated reading about Sarah’s relationship with her first husband. It was hard to read about his lack of emotion toward her and how she had to go through her time with him thinking that what she was experiencing was love. I hadn’t guessed that he was unfaithful or in love with another woman, but I sensed something was very wrong. It was even worse knowing that Jack had wanted to be with her and was stopped because she’d married. It only delayed the inevitable, but it was still rough.
I didn’t think this would be a love story when I picked it up and for most of the book, it didn’t even focus on the love story. But when you boil it down, that was the center of Sarah’s story. She was in love with a man who made her better and pushed her to be the best she could be and it changed her life for the best.
Writer’s Takeaway: I’m a big fan of the diary format and I liked how Turner did it here. Sarah wrote more when it was appropriate and less when it made sense that she’d be busy. I wasn’t a huge fan of using her writing as a way of developing her character as far as the improper language I mentioned before. It was distracting more than helpful and telling. I wish she’d made the change from a different starting point of Sarah’s education so that the mistakes weren’t so jarring.
Overall enjoyable with the exception of the beginning. Four out of Five Stars.
This book fulfilled the final time period, 1890-1909 for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and it’s now complete! Wooo!
Until next time, write on.
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