I have found the best story of frontier life I have ever read. It’s rugged, inspiring, and engaging.
“These is My Words,” written by Nancy E. Turner, is a compilation of diary entries of the author’s great-grandmother, Sarah Agnes Prine.
I am not afraid of historical non-fiction–especially when it is written in first person. But, even someone who is not drawn to the genre would be intrigued by the book. The author’s enthusiasm for the subject matter translates well to the page, and it seems that she must have had a fabulous time uncovering the adventures of her own great-grandmother.
This journey takes place in the late 1800’s, beginning with Sarah as an uneducated girl traveling by wagon train, hence the origin for the quirky title and grammar present in the first chapter. I vividly remember thinking,
“If these words don’t improve I’m going to put this book down!”
Happily, it is not long before young Sarah’s journaling gets profoundly better, and her words take a tightfisted hold on the reader. Soon I was so wrapped up in the indelible backdrop of harsh trailblazing conditions that I regretted every time I needed to put it down.
Sarah Prine’s narrative made a deep impression on me, personally. It was easy to feel like I had walked up the steps of her front porch and visited with her in her kitchen. Transported to that place, I witnessed her as a concerned wife, as a mother taking time to transfer bits of wisdom to her children and as a friend willing to share all she could provide. I loved reading how she would take in people who were just passing through with kindness. There wasn’t a lot of space on her humble homestead yet she would string up blankets in the front room for privacy and set out a cot if a visitor were to stay the night.
In my mind I can still see her in her ranch style kitchen fixing a pan of fresh baked biscuits, looking out the window to see clothes on the line, blowing in the breeze, and a shotgun always within reach. She was in fact a sharp shooter — with a wit that was every bit as sharp as well.
One of my favorite quotes from Sarah’s journal:
Our children weigh hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it. — entry for October 10, 1887
Sarah Agnes Prine is truly an inspiring, forward thinking, no-nonsense gal. She valued family and education above all else. These is My Words was rugged, inspiring, humbling, Excellence. A Highly Recommended Good Read.