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Book Review: Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner (3/5)

13 Feb

I read the first book in this series a few years ago when I was desperate to finish the When Are You Reading? Challenge.  I’m finally getting to the later books in the series since they’re available from my library.

Cover image via Goodreads

Sarah’s Quilt (Sarah Agnes Prine #2) by Nancy E. Turner

Other books by Turner reviewed on this blog:

These Is My Words (Sarah Agnes Prine #1)

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1906, the badlands of Southern Arizona Territory is a desolate place where a three-year drought has changed the landscape for all time. When Sarah’s well goes dry and months pass with barely a trace of rain, Sarah feels herself losing her hold upon the land. Desperate, Sarah’s mother hires a water witch, a peculiar desert wanderer named Lazrus who claims to know where to find water. As he schemes and stalls, he develops an attraction to Sarah that turns into a frightening infatuation.

And just when it seems that life couldn’t get worse, Sarah learns that her brother and his family have been trapped in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. She and her father-in-law cannot even imagine the devastation that awaits them as they embark on a rescue mission to the stricken city.

Sarah is a pioneer of the truest spirit, courageous but gentle as she fights to save her family’s home. But she never stops longing for the passion she once knew. Though her wealthy neighbor has asked her to wed, Sarah doesn’t entirely trust him. And then Udell Hanna and his son come riding down the dusty road…

I think that the summary captures the disjointed nature of this book well. Sarah’s life is portrayed very realistically in that it’s not a clean arc. There are a lot of things happening at once and not all of them seem to wrap up well nor at the same time. Most things didn’t seem logically connected and sometimes they weren’t. If I remember correctly, the first book was loosely based on a relative of the author. That helped me forgive what seemed disjointed in that story. I’m not sure I was as forgiving this time around.

Sarah is a great character. She’s a strong woman in a place that demands strong people. I think she contrasts well with Savannah as they’re both strong but in very different ways. I liked the children in this book, too. Mary Pearl is a very dynamic character and Charlie grows up a lot during the book. I did feel there were a few too many characters, though. It seemed like sending some of them to Chicago for a chunk of the novel was a way to deal with fewer of them for a time.

Udell was my favorite character and I was rooting for him from the moment he arrived. He’s a gentleman and reminded me a bit of Sarah’s late husband, Jack. I thought she’d appreciate a man like Jack. Especially when Rodolfo proposed, I was surprised she even considered him with Udell right in front of her nose. The things she did for him to help him out before the two were openly romantic with each other felt like flirting and the kind of help you only give someone who you want to be a permanent fixture in your life. It was a romance I just kept waiting to happen.

I feel our society pushes women to be more independent, like Sarah. She had to survive against a brutal landscape. Today, it’s not as much nature as the economy and workforce that push women to be as strong-willed as Sarah. If you don’t speak out for yourself, no one else may.

Nancy E. Turner
Image via Macmillan

Willy’s plotline was the most interesting to me. When he showed up, I wanted to whip him and I was happy when Albert did. When he started to turn bad, I wanted Sarah to take her turn and teach him a lesson and I was upset when he got away before anyone could. I wouldn’t have blamed Rodolfo or Charlie if they had shot Willy. I thought it was a kindness he didn’t deserve to get a trial. It was clear how it was going to end from the beginning. I’m glad no one swooped in and saved him in the end. He did terrible things and he had to atone for them in the end. I think he redeemed himself by giving Sarah’ the ammunition she needed against Felicity to keep her ranch.

I thought the plotline with Harlen was unnecessary. It felt like the author wanted to throw the earthquake into the story somehow and forced it to be there. I think it could have been taken out completely because it didn’t serve Sarah’s story much. This is why I could be more forgiving if I knew this book was also based on a diary. It might be real life, but it doesn’t make for a sensical story.

My audiobook was narrated by Valerie Leonard. I thought Leonard was a good voice for Sarah. She was strong and forceful when needed but was compassionate to her children, grandchildren, and nephews when needed. I thought Leonard gave good voices to men in the book as well, without sounding ridiculous. The only voice that stuck out to me was Willy’s, mostly the way he said “Sarah” but I can overlook that if it’s my only complaint.

Sarah was pushed against a wall time after time and was brought back by the help of her friends, family, and neighbors. I thought it was a powerful message about the community and how we are all able to help each other to build a more productive world. I think it’s important to keep an eye out for our neighbors and I know the neighbors who are most loved in my community are the ones who show they care.

Writer’s Takeaway: I didn’t feel this book had a good overall arc. It seemed to realistically read like a diary, but diaries aren’t always stories. Many things seemed disjointed. I haven’t spoken about Lazarus yet in my review but he was a major character with a big role in the overall plot. There were so many other things going on that it was easy to forget about some of the quieter or less consistent plot lines. I found it harder to follow because of this and took away a note about making sure every subplot supports an overall arc.

Overall, an entertaining read and a series I plan to finish. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1900-1919 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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