These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)

by Nancy Turner

Paperback, 2008




Harper Perennial (2008), Edition: First PB Edition, 416 pages


Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML: "Belongs on your must-read list. This novel is a gem." �Omaha World-Herald Nancy E. Turner's unforgettable These Is My Words melds the sweeping adventures and dramatic landscapes of Lonesome Dove with the heartfelt emotional saga of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. 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. Rich in authentic everyday details and alive with truly unforgettable characters, These Is My Words brilliantly brings a vanished world to breathtaking life again..… (more)


(492 ratings; 4.3)

User reviews

LibraryThing member countrylife
A remarkable book! The author has crafted a wonderful story, inspired by her own family memoirs.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and Ms. Turner is now my favorite author. I give her 5 stars for all the things that matter to me in a story like this: interesting, but believable situations and
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story line, fascinating characters, everyday folks who yet inspire, believable responses, a real sense of place for setting, excellent writing. Gracious, I even loved the cover that looks like an old diary.

Diary entries are dated July 1881 – June 1901, and cover a young woman’s life in the Arizona territory. During a time when making your home in the west was to sign up for a life of hardship, this story covers a family’s ordeals in a wagon train, in setting up their homestead, their encounters with soldiers, wild animals, Comanches, and other rough characters. Given these elements of a typical western novel, it is yet so much more. It is a story of relationship and growth, coming of age and motherhood, coping and triumphing.

I’ve read other diary type books that start out with a childish vocabulary and build to the grown-up version, which generally read rather contrived. The shift from beginning to end of this diarist’s writing was subtle and felt real. It is an insightful portrayal of the main character, Sarah Prine, tracing her growth from an uneducated teenager to a mature woman, who yearns for learning and has meantime read everything she could get her hands on. From an emotionally immature girl to a woman who finds and accepts love. From fighting against the trials of life, to acceptance of what life hands her.

Highly recommended!
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I am a big fan of the American West and enjoy reading about its’ settlement. These Is My Words by Nancy E Turner was, for me, that rare book that brings life to the distant past. I fell into Sarah’s story and was totally swept up in her remarkable life.

Reading like a real diary, the life of
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Sarah Prine is one of hardship, danger, loss and sorrow, but it is also a life filled with strength, determination, and love both of the family and romantic kind. Set in the Arizona Territories between 1881 to 1901, and based on her own grandmothers’ life, we see Sarah develop from a young, uneducated girl into a woman of strength and spirit. The extraordinary characters that people this book help to enrich the story whether it’s of Indians attacking or a simple buggy ride through the young town of Tucson. And if Captain Jack Elliot is a little too good looking, a little too tall, and a little too heroic, well so be it.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed were the many details of day-to-day living in this era. From the piecing together of quilts to soap-making, looking after livestock and child rearing, life was hard and the work was never ending, but people managed to endure and even thrive.

I could rave on and on about this book, but perhaps I should just end with a strong recommendation to read this captivating and heart-felt story.
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LibraryThing member ashleyludwig
This one really struck me. Being a lover of both historical fiction, and geneaology - it reads like you are reading your great grandmother's diary. You feel her grow from a young girl wondering what crimson velvet is - to an adult woman who has struggled to make her home in the Arizona territory.
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Against flood, fate, and all of the day to day drama that go with it - by the end of the story I had laughed out loud with Sarah Agnes Prine - and wept right along with her until I was wracked with sobs. Nancy Turner is a brilliant author with a keen eye and a lithe hand. I have Sarah's quilt sitting on my night table - next in line.
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LibraryThing member CatheOlson
This was the journal of Sarah Prine . . . a pioneer girl coming moving west with her family and braving sickness, bandits, indians, snakes, you name it. As she grows into a woman, she never loses her fire (nor her love for books). I enjoyed this book from page one all the way to the end.
LibraryThing member bibliophyte
What a beautiful story - painfully beautiful and cathartic. The characters are entirely believable and enjoyable, so much so that I was hooked before I had even read fifteen pages. I adore Sarah: her spunk, honesty, sense of humor, the intensity of her love. She has a brimming personality and is
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someone I feel like I would want to be best friends with. I think I fell a little in love with Captain Elliot, and since I finished the book ten minutes ago I am in danger of bursting into tears (again). This book was written so well, so effectively (and unaffectedly), I won't dare to disagree with how the author chose to end her story, though I will admit I was hoping it would have an "And they lived happily ever after" ending. Regardless of whether the story closed the way I wanted it to or not, though, These Is My Words is a poignant book well worth reading. I picked it up inexpensively at a book sale and was planning on trading it at the bookshop for credit, but after finishing it, I think I'll hold on to it a while longe
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LibraryThing member ladycato
Last year I read Vanished Arizona, the genuine recollection of an Army wife of her time in Arizona during the 1870s. These is My Words is a novel, but it feels just as authentic and gritty.

The book begins while Sarah (based loosely on the author's own grandmother) is still a teenager. Her parents
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have decided to leave the Territory and find prosperity back east in Texas. Sarah writes her journal entries is a somewhat illiterate style, mourning the fact that she's never set foot in a proper schoolhouse. Not far into their journey, tragedy strikes. Apaches, snakes, marauders, a lack of water--danger is never far away, and when tragedy becomes too much the family resolves to head back to Arizona. They join a long wagon train escorted by the Army and Captain Jack Elliot, a man with a lasting imprint on Sarah's life.

This isn't a romance book--it's not fluffy, it's not formulaic--but the romance is central to the story. It's about a couple sticking together through every conceivable disaster that can strike the desert southwest. The characters are beautiful and well-rounded as well, recalling to mind another recent read, The Hearts of Horses. Sarah is spunky. She wouldn't survive otherwise. She kills to protect her family, and she's not afraid to stand against the crowd and welcome Mexicans and Indians into her home. To her, good folks are good folks, and skin color and language have nothing to do with that. In some books this comes across as an anachronism, trying to force modern sensibility on historical characters. Not here. It feels real.
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LibraryThing member 78degreegirl
Western Historical Fiction, adventure, bittersweet romance, strong female heroine
LibraryThing member cindyloumn
This is a diary type book of a girl in 1881-1901. It is thee MOST depressing book I've EVER read. So full of death, etc. In the beginning you dont think ANYONE will live!! Vut it's a wonderful love story of a very strong women. Which is what I loved about it.
LibraryThing member BoundTogetherForGood
I am no longer a big fan of fiction but this book read as if it could have been real. I really enjoyed reading about the lead characters' life out west.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This was a good story - a love story, a family story, and an examination of what real love is.
LibraryThing member SelimaCat
I read this book for a book club that may or may not happen and didn't know what to expect. It's a first-person narrative, written in diary form--the story of a young girl in the 1860's wild west. I liked the female narrator (though she's predictably plucky), but it was a bit bloodthirsty for my
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taste--I wasn't expecting main characters to die off so quickly, and so often. There was a sweet love story and a cast of appealing characters--if you like Oprah books, this is a good choice for you.
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LibraryThing member SherryAuthor
A wonderful story about a girl who finds her way and becomes a woman.
LibraryThing member KC9333
Loved this book --- fasinating tale told in diary form. The story of a young girl becoming a women and building a life in the Arizona territory . Gripping tale of struggle, love and loss in the southwest during the 1900s- recommended!
LibraryThing member cogscilibrarian
I bought this at the Phoenix airport. I put it aside when I got home and picked it up as an "emergency" novel (one I read when I'd gone through the stack of fiction to be read and found them all lacking). Once I started, I couldn't put it down! It was a bit hokey in spots, but overall, the story
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and the characters were quite compelling. It could be very graphic at times, but it was realistic and not sensationalized. I thought a lot of the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books while I read this, as they take place at roughly the same time but present very different stories of women on the frontier. I recommend this highly.
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
I enjoy historical fiction sometimes, but I'm not much into the Western. But this one was recommended by a friend. She just loved it. I decided to give it a try, but couldn't get a paper copy. But they did have the audiobook, so I checked it out.

I am so glad I did! I was absolutely hooked from the
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very first CD. It starts out with an Indian ambush, the death of a child, and a brutal attack on some unsuspecting girls, and that was just the first CD!

The story is told as journal entries of Sarah Agnes Prine, traveling from Arizona to Texas. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but for various reasons, Sarah and her family head back to Arizona.

Sarah goes through all kinds of heartache, but the core of the story is a romance. I loved the characters, and I loved Sarah. I absolutely understood her independence, her desire for learning, her wish to be 'good' like her friend Savannah. And the romance was just so wonderful.

I've stayed up late, just because I can't stop listening to see what happens next. This was fun to do as an audiobook. The narrator was great. And it was so much more suspenseful this way. I am such a fast reader, but with an audiobook, you can't just rush ahead. You have to wait! Several times I went to see my family and told them everything that had just happened and that I just couldn't wait to see what happened next!

I don't know anything about the author, but I know that after reading this, I have to find out if she wrote anything else. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member eejjennings
Interesting story about a woman making her way in the Arizona Territory in the 1800's as she grows into adulthood. Loosely based on family stories about the author's great grandmother and generously filled in with romance and adventure.
LibraryThing member bacreads
It took me about 80 pages to get into but then was interesting and amazing what Sarah did to establish her ranch, marry, raise her children and take care of family and friends. Humerous and tragic. I would be interested to know how much was from Sarah's actual diary and how much the author
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LibraryThing member kyragtopgirl
I really enjoyed this book. It had great characters and a good story. I like American Historical Fiction, and I think this is a good representation of the everyday lives of people in the old west.
LibraryThing member creighley
Wonderful tale of settling the Old West-Tuscon, Arizona, area.
LibraryThing member kdabra4
I regret that it took me so long to read this amazing chronology of life on the frontier in the Arizona Territories. The characters are so real and well developed, you come to understand their every word and action because you know them like family. The love between Sarah and Jack leaps off the
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page and into your heart. I cannot tell you how many times I teared up, both from the many tragedies endured and the happy times as well. This sweet book will stay with me for a very long time.
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LibraryThing member ark76
After reading this emotional journey of a woman's life as a western settler, I feel conflicted. At the same time I have never been so happy to be living in the 21st century while also realizing how much all of our conveniences actually take away from us. The connection between neighbors, devotion
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to family and reliance on yourself to survive have all been weakend.

I loved the way the book was written as a diary, in the first person. We meet the writer as a young 18 year-old woman facing the difficulties of a trail passage. It is a love story. A woman's love for her family, a man, education, and ultimately, for herself as she finally recognizes in herself the strenth and passion those around her have always admired and relied upon.

This book reminds me of an adult Little House on the Prairie.
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LibraryThing member tanisha364
I've always been fond of diary format books but haven't read one in the last 12 years. I was very happy to discover this format again and have it renew my love!
I'm not generally interested in "western" type books, but I couldn't help but adore this book. It was beautiful! The adventure and
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heartbreak was riveting and I had a hard time putting the book down.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good love story.
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LibraryThing member orangegrove95
One of those books that sucks you in. Sort of a Rhett and Scarlett type feel only in a prairie setting. Thanks sibling for the loan.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This is written as the diary of a pioneer woman, Sarah Prine, traveling with her family through the Arizona Territory from 1881 to 1901. I admit I didn't get far in. Diary format is pretty tricky. It can come across as rather thin and depends on a strong voice. As you can tell from the very title,
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this is one of those books that uses deliberate misspellings and grammatical infelicities (and no quotes to offset dialogue) in an attempt to create that voice. Sometimes doing this--my recent read, the moving The Color Purple comes to mind--can work beautifully. But here I simply found it annoying and awkward, maybe because Sarah doesn't come across to me as real. She's supposed to be seventeen at the beginning of this book but comes across as about seven in her diary. Tragedy upon tragedy is piled upon very early in this book. Within the first 20 pages, covering little more than a month, Sarah's younger brother Clover is killed by snakebite, her elder brother Ernest loses his arm in an attack by Indians, a friend of Sarah is raped before her eyes and Sarah kills the attackers, and her father dies. All that is crammed in, and her reactions strike me as strangely flat and unreal and there Turner lost me.
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LibraryThing member dele2451
A unflinching and unpitying glimpse into the many hardships and dangers confronting young settlers staking their claim in the American Southwest during the 1800's. I particularly enjoyed the unapologetic way the narrator/author of this fictional account handles the business of protecting herself
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and her family against anyone who would do them harm. This one is a little like Little House on the Prairie, but with a lot more teeth. A very good read.
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Audie Award (Finalist — 2000)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

416 p.; 5.31 inches


0061458031 / 9780061458033
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