These is My Words:
The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine,
By Nancy E. Turner
"A storm is rolling in,
and that always makes me a little sad and wistful so
I got it in my head to set to paper all these
things that have got us this far on our way
through this heathen land."
These Is My Words is a coming-of-age story, in
the form of a diary kept by Sarah Agnes Prine.
It is inspired by the true story of the author's
pioneering great-grandmother - she has drawn upon her
diary of life in the Arizona Territory of late
1800's, and turned it into a story of courage,
tenacity, and love. "These Is My Words: The Diary
of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" is her
fully realized portrait of a fascinating pioneer
The story begins when Sarah is seventeen, traveling
with her family by wagon train from the Arizona
territories to Texas.
During this wagon trip, Sarah meets cavalry officer
Captain Jack Elliot, a rogue and a charmer. At first
unimpressed, her relationship with him grows over
the vast distances and harsh terrains they travel.
Eventually there grows a passion between them, and
the loss and loneliness both suffer only strengthen
their need for each other.
Oh, but it's not a love story. It's a life story -
The entire novel is composed
of diary entries, following Sarah's growth from
precocious girl-child to a fiery woman to
caring mother and wife.
In reading her journal, we watch her as she forges
a life full and fascinating as deepest need. We watch
her save a discarded wagonful of books and
greedily protect them so she can learn how to read.
We watch her ride Indian-style and shoot with deadly
aim, we watch her face fires and floods and Comanche
raids with the unique sort of courage we can only
dream of having, the sort that built the American West.
The wonder of the frontier experience shows over and over in quiet understated scenes:
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; Sarah's joy in building a real
home, sketching out rooms and wraparound porches.
A life, somewhere else.
As the title suggests, the words of
the early diary entries are those of a poorly
educated 17-year-old writer. Reading books written in a semiliterate form is often hard, but Ms. Turner deals
with this by supplanting the earlier writing style
as Sarah's spelling and usage grow. What was the
You might consider this book too simple, or just
for women, because of the clear woman's voice. Yes,
the writing is transparently simple but the story is
direct and gripping, vivid. Like I said, it's
a passionate celebration of a remarkable life,
and I found it exhilarating.
Gotta keep noding my liberry, details from the book on my shelf and: