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Sarah's Story

(The Quantock Quartet #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  263 ratings  ·  29 reviews
(Originally published in Britain as The Silent Shore.)

Four independent-minded sisters come of age in the early 1900s -- and four interwoven novels tell their stories, each through a different sister's eyes.

The year is 1910, and the four Purcell sisters have only each other. Their mother has died, leaving them orphans in a rambling country estate. But with the help of the M
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 7th 2002 by Candlewick Press (first published 1986)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  263 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ya, british
Though this book has been on my shelf for well over a year, it wasn't until it was chosen for the February group read over at the Kindred Spirits group that I finally decided to read it. We chose the book as one "in the spirit of" the works of L. M. Montgomery (i.e., "Anne of Green Gables") and, while Harris' book doesn't equal LMM's in my esteem and affection, I think it was definitely a good choice as it is evocative of LMM's adoration of nature, love of beauty and writing, and her position th ...more
What beautiful writing. I love the way Ms. Harris set the scene. Sarah's story, is about four sisters who are orphaned in 1910, and this book is the youngest girl's story. It starts off when she is seven years old, and takes us till she is seventeen.

I guess the easiest way for me to describe this book would be a mix between Little Women and Rilla of Ingleside. Neither of those books are perfect summer tales, but both have a sweetness that this book does. Sarah is very much a mix of Jo and Amy,
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to CLM by: found at Blackwells in Oxford
First in an outstanding four book series about four sisters - Frances, Julia, Gwen and Sarah Purcell - and their neighbors, the Mackenzie boys. Set during the early part of the 20th century and during WWI, this one (which I think is the best) is told from the perspective of Sarah, the youngest sister. I like that the author didn't write the books chronologically. In fact, the stories all overlap somewhat but as the youngest, Sarah is also the best observer of the others.

Sadly this author has onl
Julie  Durnell
Mar 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this beautifully written story of four young women/girls who become orphans but are unwilling to leave their family home and move to Taunton, played out in the years before and during WWI. Instead they are able to stay with supervision by the vicar and his family. Each of the sisters has their own unique gifts and personalities but are committed to staying together at Hillcrest. I am intrigued enough to search out the other three girls' stories.
Mar 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is actually a 4.5 rating, not quite "amazing" but a beautiful read! I love the concept of a series in which each book is written from the point of view of each of four sisters.

In this first volume, Ruth Elwin Harris somehow captures the spirit of Sarah, the youngest sister, thru her growing up years. I could feel her awkwardness in certain social situations, her thrills at simple pleasures and privileges, and her "tween" dilemma of both reluctance and hurry to grow up. I can see how each o
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this book I was 12 years old. Ten years later I am still re-reading and enjoying it.
The Purcell-stories are wonderful. No matter how many times you read about them, you never grow tired of the Purcells and the Mackenzies! I'm quite in love with all of them!

While looking up information about the VAD's (in the Imperial War Museum) for writing Julia's Story, the author found this letters of Billie Nevill, a guy serving in WW 1. She wrote a book about him later. It is a really
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's as if Ruth Elwin Harris was commissioned to write a book that I would love: the time, the place, the delicate prose, the flowers and sunlight, the sweetness and the melancholy. It's just what I needed at this moment. And my name is on the cover!
This was the first time I had reread this series in many, many years, and for the most part I still enjoyed it. I did, however, find these books rather more slowly going than I remember them being. The writing is very descriptive - beautiful! Yet descriptive. And yet there were scenes I remember being powerful and heartbreaking that on this reread felt emotionally lacking. An interesting reread of a series I remember fondly, but not sure I would recommend to many younger readers today (even if i ...more
This book was picked as a group read. It was sweet and I found the younger age Sarah to be enduring in her innocence. Even her crush on the older Gabriel is cute and understandable. For most of the book though, I kept waiting for something to happen. It just seemed to go on and on - something would happen and then a sentence or two and it's over. It became difficult for me to finish the book. The best part for me was when Sarah encountered Geoffrey in the cemetery. I remember thinking, finally s ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bethany by: Sarah
It's like someone brought up on the work of L.M. Montgomery wrote a book with a Suzanne Martin-esque (Song of Years) main character!

Those two things equal perfection, by the way.

I'd buy the rest of the series now, except I've accumulated a lot of books lately. (Which makes feel guilty. Stupid inexplicable, all-encompassing guilt complex...) Though I doubt I shall find them as kindred a spirit as my new friend Sarah, I'm eager to get to know Julia and Gwen. I have to admit, I am less interested i
Fern Adams
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I started high school I was obsessed with this series of books and read them repeatedly. Back then I was younger than the main characters and looked at them with a sort of awe at how grown up they were, their somewhat bohemian lifestyle and ambitions. I really wanted to be Frances. Now over ten years later I picked up my dog eared and battered copy of this book and began the series again. They’ve not lost their charm. Strangely I’m now older than all the characters and probably am most like ...more
Virginia Messina
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
Set in England during WWI, this is the first in a series of four books about four sisters. Sadly, they are out-of-print, although still readily available. I’ve had these on my to read list for several years and this one certainly lived up to my expectations. I’m really looking forward to the rest.
Bryn (Plus Others)
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a perfect book for me -- set in a time (1910-1920) and place (England) that I am endlessly fascinated by, written by someone who clearly understands that time and place from the inside, yet who has enough perspective on it that she never becomes sentimental -- or at least not too much so. There is a definite feminist thread running through the book, in the struggles of the various characters to make a life they choose rather than simply follow the pattern society expects, but it is not ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book, it is a lovely premise. Unfortunately, it seemed disjointed and confusing. It was episodic, but the episodes seemed to have no continuity, and the years changed often. As it is the first in the quartet and Sarah us a young child, I can only hope the other girls are more coherent.
Lovely writing. Like PBS Masterpiece period drama.
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Un énorme coup de coeur, une très belle histoire, de très beaux personnages et le tout très bien écrit;

L'histoire de 4 soeurs, en angleterre en 1910, et qui viennent de perdre leurs parents; l'histoire est racontée du point de vue de la plus jeune des soeurs qui raconte le quotidien de sa famille entre 1910 et 1920, avec, au milieu, la première guerre mondiale qui va changer pas mal de chose; chacune des soeurs à son tempérament et son caractère, chacune à un talent et des faiblesses; elles vont
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: orphan-stories
Oddly, not only did my wife pick up this book thinking I'd like it, but the Kindred Spirits group ( also choose it some months back. I did like the story - something "Akin to Anne" yet a bit like Little Women & the like - but it was difficult to get through, slow and times, not quite what I was hoping for. I'd like to read the rest of the series, perhaps sometime down the road...
Danni Kay
Oct 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Most of the characters blended together because only a few had distinct characteristics that differentiated them from one another. I read the book half way and was so disinterested I did not want to finish. I did skip to the last chapter though and was just as disinterested and unamused. The back of the book summary/teaser was not a good representative of the story line. I would categorize this as a historical fiction.
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
I found this book slow at first, but it grew on me. It's a literary, old fashioned style book set in England before and during WWI. It would appeal to readers who like a literary challenge and who enjoy historical fiction. It's a gentle read. Although I don't think it has wide appeal, I do think there are some teen readers who would enjoy it.
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teen, skimmed
Frankly I found the whole series rather boring and ended up skimming alot. In the first book I was appalled at how cold the older sister was to her grieving younger sister Sarah, I couldn't get past that.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the character development in this beautifully told historical fiction tale. Sarah is a such a sweetie - I'm so glad I got to meet her and will definitely look into reading the other three books in this series.
I liked this one, but wanted it to be fleshed out a bit more. Interesting idea to have four books from four perspectives essentially telling about the same time period, but I think it would have worked better if it was done in first person.
Nov 02, 2007 rated it liked it
A nice an easy read. Probably best for women since it's all about a bunch of sisters.
Maxx Spiess
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
it was a amazing book!
Jina Howell-Forbes
Simple but enjoyable
rated it really liked it
Oct 21, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Dec 04, 2018
rated it liked it
Oct 27, 2011
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Jun 28, 2014
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Ruth Elwin Harris says that her historic quartet of novels, THE SISTERS OF THE QUANTOCK HILLS, had its beginnings while she was growing up during World War II. To escape the wartime bombing, she and her brother were sent to live with their grandfather in rural Somerset, England. His house and garden became the model for Hillcrest, the Purcell sisters' family home in the four-part series.

Another i

Other books in the series

The Quantock Quartet (4 books)
  • Frances's Story (Quantock Quartet, #2)
  • Julia's Story (Quantock Quartet, #3)
  • Gwen's Story (Quantock Quartet, #4)
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