Sunday, February 1, 2009

These Is My Words by Nancy Turner

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it as stories of the early American West are not really my preferred genre, but I really loved it. I thought, since Sarah’s writing went from rough to more refined, that I might have a hard time getting into it and following what was happening. But, although Sarah’s vocabulary might not be very large in the beginning, this has no effect on her ability to be articulate and engaging. I found Turner’s diary-style story very easy to slip into and hard to put down.

I think the reason I liked it so well was because, when you boil it down, These Is My Words is really a love story. One the front cover, there’s a quote from USA Today that says, “Jack and Sarah are as delicious a couple as Rhett and Scarlet.” And I would have to agree, except that not only did I like Jack and Sarah a lot more, but I really thought, even though Jack sometimes seems an unrealistic character, their love felt real. I loved Captain Elliot the moment I laid eyes on him. And I mean that in the most literal sense. =) +/-

I was not surprised to find out that there was no “real life” basis for Jack Elliot as there had been for Sarah. I read a bit of Turner’s comments in the back of the book and found out that her husband likes to think that she based Jack on him. And she did say that her husband was in the army and fought in Vietnam, and that she spent a lot of nights worrying if he would come home alive. I found that to be very tangible in her writing. Every time he went off on another assignment, I felt a little tingle in my stomach, wondering if this would be the moment he would die and Sarah would be left alone again.

I also enjoyed Savannah and Sarah’s relationship. I wonder if the author made their names so similar as if to elude to the idea that maybe they were the two halves of the same person. Sarah, although she thought of herself as “low down” compared to her sister-in-law, was more of a passionate and independent person, I think. And Savannah reminded me a little bit of Jane Bennett from Pride and Prejudice—always saying the right thing with quiet acceptance, bordering on being good to a fault. Then, slowly, as their relationship grew and they felt the influence of one another, Sarah became a little less wild, although still controversial, and Savannah became a little bolder, although still blushing. As if the perfect woman maybe lies somewhere in between.

Another thing that I think really shines through Turner’s writing is Sarah’s courage and tenacity. I think the fact that she is based on a real person and on real events (although not all actually happened, denoted by the title of “fiction”) makes her story an incredible one. At times, it was difficult to read some of the hardships she and others endured, and it gave me a new perspective on that time and the difficulty of the human experience. Overall, a great read!

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