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Sarah Agnes Prine #1

These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901, Arizona Territories

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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.

384 pages, Paperback

First published February 3, 1998

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Nancy E. Turner

8 books1,145 followers

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5 stars
37,839 (52%)
4 stars
24,386 (33%)
3 stars
7,112 (9%)
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1,499 (2%)
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894 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,112 reviews
Profile Image for Brookann.
17 reviews19 followers
March 21, 2008
I was completely taken by this book! The library fines are racking up because it is overdue and I can't renew it because it has been requested by someone else, but I can't let it go because I find myself going back to it to reread passages and "reliving" moments of the book in my mind. I shed many a tear and towards the end was so enraged I almost threw the book, but I simply cannot stop thinking about it! I'm dying to discuss it with someone.

It is the beautiful and heartbreaking story of a woman growing up in the Arizona Territories in the late 1800s written as accounts from her diary (based on the memoirs of the author's great-grandmother). I was captivated by the hardships and struggles that she endured just to survive - Indians, robbers, wild animals and the elements to name a few. I felt worlds away from that life, wondering if I could have done it, if I myself had the same kind of strength and courage that Sarah exhibits. And yet I watched her grapple with the same issues I deal with every day - love and heartache, the joy and exhaustion that come from motherhood, wanting to do it all and all at once - and I realized that although times and circumstances may vary greatly, a woman's heart remains largely the same.
Profile Image for Amanda.
228 reviews42 followers
July 8, 2008
This is, UNEQUIVOCALLY, the best love story I have read.

I devoured this book -- I simply could not put it down. The beginning was gritty, heart-wrenching, and a grammatical mess. Yet, this is part of the author's brilliance. As the main character, Sarah, matures, she is strengthened by her experiences. And as Sarah educates herself at every opportunity, the grammar and story-telling improve.

Without giving anything away, I cannot put into words the romance between Sarah and Captain Jack Elliott. Let me just say, dear reader, you will be quite satisfied with this one.

Empowerment, motherhood, family, trials, adventure, loss, and love - all of these themes are woven into the story, and I found that many of the questions asked, struggles endured, and doubts born throughout Sarah's life transcend time and place.

This will be the book I recommend to anyone asking the rest of the year. Truly one of the best books out there!
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,204 followers
June 1, 2022

Incredible story telling in the form of a diary makes this novel feel so real, as if it were a memoir. Perhaps some of that feeling is because the book was inspired by the author’s great grandmother. For me that made it all the more meaningful. I always love reading about strong women no matter when they lived, but there is something particularly special about Sarah Agnes Prine as we follow her and her family and others on their journey to stake a claim in Arizona Territory in the late nineteenth century. What a fabulous character! Sarah is courageous, sometimes audacious, smart and loving. And what reader wouldn’t appreciate someone with a burning desire to read. If I lived there and then, I’d want her to be my friend, although it would have been awkward because I fell in love with the love of her life Captain Jack Elliott, too.

There are some beautiful things about this story - love of family, cherished friendships and a love story that I’ll remember. In spite of all of those things, this is difficult to read a lot of the time as it depicts the hardships and loss on the journey and the hardships that continue for Sarah and her family after they stake claim. There are brutal scenes of death, sometimes gruesome, in conflicts with Native Americans and a few vile men. There is sickness and death, and amazingly enough there is also some humor to provide a reprieve from the suffering. A fabulous character to admire and remember and an excellent work of historical fiction. Looking forward to the other two books in the series.
As I wrote this review, I decided this was 5 stars rather than 4. It’s that good.
Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,644 followers
September 2, 2016
"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. Its been a sorrowful journey so far and hard and so if we don’t get to San Angelo or even as far as Fort Hancock I am saving this little theme in my cigar box for some wandering travelers to find and know whose bones these is."

I was so eager to read this book, described as a “heartfelt American saga” which is set in the Arizona Territories during the late 1800s. Then I opened and began to read the first several pages and was instantly struck by a feeling of doom. So much misery and suffering – how could I possibly get through this? But, at the same time, I was immediately drawn to Sarah’s voice as she shares her tale through a series of journal entries. I just had to know her story and learn what would become of her during these difficult times. After all, it would not have made much sense if her life was breezy and carefree. Then she lightened the load for me a bit by throwing in some wit. I became attached to Sarah, her family and the charismatic Captain Jack Elliott. I was entranced by the landscape and was lured by the sense of adventure. In short, I was hooked.

Sarah is truly a memorable character. Feisty, hard-working and hungry for learning, she perseveres in a formidable and unforgiving frontier. I loved her yearning to read and write. She begins as an uneducated young girl with a dream to someday attend school. Her journal writing is at first unrefined. As she begins to acquire and read books, she little by little advances her own education and her writing becomes more polished, though it never loses its spirit. When she meets Captain Jack Elliot, she is maddened by him and his sense of authority. "That man makes me feel like I have my bonnet on backwards." He has something of hers that she wants back – a precious book about a “scarlet velvet woman”. Thus begins a lifelong “battle” to get the book back and a delightful relationship between a determined young woman, whom the Captain calls “The General”, and a courageous and honorable leader of men. "Captain Elliot has this recklessness about him, and a way of holding on that you don’t know he is holding on, and a way of laughing that is like he takes pleasure in the act of laughing itself. He is better to have around in a scrap than a trained wildcat, though."

This book shares with us the everyday life of those that struggled to make a place for themselves in a world filled with the unknown, the threat of conflicts arising between the Native Americans and the settlers, the risk of childbirth, scanty resources, and the danger of the surrounding wildlife. What I most admired in Sarah was her acceptance of others. She travelled and then lived side by side and in peace with people of skin color and religion different from her own – the Chinese, the Mexicans, the Native Americans. Her best friend was a Quaker while Sarah herself was a bit contrary when it came to “churchgoing”. What she could not tolerate was ignorance, not the unschooled variety but that of insensitivity and crudeness. She grew to understand some words of wisdom which were once spoken to her - "Education doesn’t keep a person from being a fool, and the lack of it doesn’t keep a person from being intelligent." I strongly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning more about life on the frontier with characters that will touch your heart. The story is simply told with some lovely quotes that really shined for me. Don’t forget the box of tissues.

"Sometimes I feel like a tree on a hill, at the place where all the wind blows and the hail hits the hardest. All the people I love are down the side a ways, sheltered under a great rock, and I am out of the fold, standing alone in the sun and the snow. I feel like I am not part of the rest somehow, although they welcome me and are kind. I see my family as they sit together and it is like they have a certain way between them that is beyond me. I wonder if other folks ever feel included yet alone."
Profile Image for Annalisa.
525 reviews1,350 followers
November 9, 2008
The reason I loved this book comes down to one word: authenticity. I bought into this woman's life and believed these characters. I have this vivid picture in my mind of this ranch out in the middle of nowhere with Sarah out there putting laundry on the line with a pistol tucked in her rugged apron.

I don't like western movies or get into frontier stories and was worried, especially by the title, that the grammar would rake on my nerves. But the story is about a thirst for education as much as anything else and as Sarah learns, her writing improves. It may be rare to find a woman in the late 1800s who wants to go to college, considers women on the same level as men and doesn't want a man to care for her, and treats Mexicans and Indians as her own white neighbors, but there is enough 19th-century humility, morality, and territory toughness to keep her era appropriate. Unlike Little House on the Prairie with obvious '80s-era actors fighting against stigmas of the day, I found Sarah to be the perfect frontier woman, a little forward thinking, but just enough to make her yearning add to her perfection.

We find all kinds of characters in the book: Indians, Army men, ranchers, Mexicans, Quakers, spoiled Easterners, foreigners, even polygamist Mormons, all minor characters splattered throughout Sarah's life to give us a feel for the type of people around the territories in those days. Mingled with the mundane, which I found interesting, was enough excitement, like Indian attacks and the danger of women alone, to make me want to keep reading. It gave me the sense of how fragile life could be with attacks, childbirth, disease, and nature.

Turner did a fantastic job of giving us a picture of life on the early frontier without making it feel like she's teaching us what life on the early frontier is like. You find out the chore it is to cook a long meal and put together a bath without running water because Sarah is exasperated without any help. Through Sarah's commentary we learn about housing conditions, cattle herding, adjusting and making clothes, mail and bank systems, conditions on wagon trains, and even conjugal issues with whispered conversations with Savannah. These were my favorite, especially Savannah's Quaker rigidness strictly against kissing before marriage. Occasionally, like the article describing their new home with indoor plumbing, I felt pulled out of the story with the intention clear to educate on the times more than describe Sarah's life, but overall the description felt like Sarah's life and not overview.

The other authentic aspect of the book that I loved was the love story. Not your unrealistic perfect man who can do no wrong which creates a man who is overbearing or too emotionally unrealistic. No, this is a real-life love story about a relationship that makes you crazy mad and impatient at the same time. Love through the ups and downs of life. A man who is stubborn in being himself but even though he understands her better than herself, requires her not to change either, who just wants to be with her and finds all her imperfections endearing. It's the guy who may be a little rough on the outside, not the one who knows just how to smooth talk his way into your heart, who will treat you like gold. I really enjoyed their story, and the suffering and learning she had to go through to get there. The perfect combination of excitement and believability to make me want to read the story and feel that it could really have happened.
Profile Image for Jan.
11 reviews36 followers
September 6, 2017
"My life feels like a book left out on the porch, and the wind blows the pages faster and faster, turning always toward a new chapter faster than I can stop and read it."

I avidly enjoyed These Is My Words by Nancy Turner! Turner did a wonderful job capturing a very vivid picture of Sarah Prine, and of the people and conditions of this period in the Arizona Territory. Turner's writing makes you feel like you are actually there, and making the trek along with Sarah.

These Is My Words is a wonderful, exciting story of the hard pioneer life, written as diary entries based on author Nancy Turner's own ancestor, Sarah Agnes Prine, from the time she is 17, in 1881, to 1901 in the Arizona Territory. Sarah is humble, witty, and full of grit and resilience; and... SHE JUST CAPTURED MY HEART! ♡

Sarah is strong ...loving...competent... never gives up...and as fiercely determined a young woman as there ever was; who edures many hardships and perseveres through it all! I admire how Sarah always hungers to learn, reading anything and everything she gets her hands on! Writing down her daily adventures as she makes her way towards homesteading in Arizona, her writing improves each day. Sarah also runs a ranch, wrangles the cattle, shoots well, has a soap making business, AND lovingly takes care of her children!

"A nice girl doesn't go anywhere
without a loaded gun and a big

And then there is the tall, handsome Calvary Captain, Jack Elliot and LOVE ensues! They are both very strong and different people, but also very good together. He drove her CRAZY... with love!

"I don't have any use for a man that
isn't stubborn. Likely a stubborn
fellow will stay with you through
thick and thin, and a spineless one
will take off, or let his heart wander."

"Taking up marriage is a good
excuse for taking up cursing,
I think."

I loved seeing how this story unfolded, and rooted for Sarah as the heroine! I cried from the heartache of much tragedy, and the joys of love!

I am always fascinated by the courageous pioneers who settled our American West, and this is a wonderful historical fiction that does a marvelous job of depicting this!

I'm giving this book 4.5 Stars! Sarah and Jack will stay with me for a long time to come! I Recommend this book to all!
Profile Image for Her Royal Orangeness.
190 reviews44 followers
June 22, 2011
Not only does the book sound intriguing, but the ratings on Goodreads are amazing - the average rating is 4.45 and 56% of readers gave it 5 Stars.

Apparently I read a different book.

The basic plot of the first half of the book is: Horrible things happen! Awful things happen! She meets a man!! Terrible things happen! Dreadful things happen! The man kisses her!!! And it's all executed in a flat, shallow, and BORING style. A lot of action and no psychological depth.

In the second half of the book, things degenerate to the point that the book is like a bodice ripper written by a 16 year old - all heaving bosoms and thundering heartbeats. Sentences like, "Then he held out his hand towards me and said, 'Come here, my love, and tell me you love me true.'" (gag, gag, gag)

And this! this particular sentence made me simultaneously laugh out loud and throw the book across the room: "Jack kissed me until my lips were swollen and my throat was dry as cotton, and kissed the scar on my breast, whispering A little sugar to make the owey all better."

Howling laughter! How do you write the words "breast" and "owey" in the same sentence and not realize it's utterly absurd?

Gah, this book is just BAD!
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,258 reviews451 followers
February 11, 2023
My heart! Oh, my heart!
There is another man to add to my very short list of literary loves. Captain Jack Eliott will join Gus McRae of Lonesome Dove, Captain Jefferson Kidd of News of the World, and The Count from A Gentleman in Moscow. Not forgetting about Rhett Butler either. All men who are larger than life in everything they do.

The thing about Captain Jack though, is that his wife, Sarah Agnes Prine, is his match in every way. Written in diary form, we follow Sarah from the age of 17, setting out with her family in a wagon train to find land to homestead in Arizona Territory. There are Indian attacks, bandits and bad men. There is death and adventure and love and disappointment, and all that just on the trip. That's where Sarah first meets Jack, where he is in an army unit escorting the settlers. This is not a romance with heaving bosoms and girded loins, but realistic pioneer experiences and expectations. When Sarah and Jack finally get together several years later, there has been a lot of living in the meantime. Sarah is a widow with a young child, a small ranch to make a living from, and a heart hardened to men in general, although she does have family close by to help. Jack has been chasing Geronimo and criminals all over the west.

There is so much to love about this novel. Pioneer life in general is always incredible to read about, but the 20 years encompassed here saw a lot of changes in the old ways, a lot of progress coming into the 20th century, and the maturing of a family and a couple who stood together through it all. Sarah's love for learning and her books, one book in particular that figures largely in the plot, love of family, humor to get past the hard times, heartbreak, characters to both love and hate....yes, this one has it all.

I will be reading Sarah's Quilt, which continues the story. If it's even half as good as this one, it's worth my time. And this one will go back on my shelf to reread some day.
Profile Image for Danielle.
809 reviews403 followers
February 2, 2021
2011 F.A.B. Bookclub pick # I.❤️. F.A.B.

I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did. Set in the late 1800’s this follows a girls life. Starting with her family’s very hard journey to claim land in Indian territory of Arizona. Grab the tissues, this book will make you cry!
Profile Image for Julie G .
885 reviews2,755 followers
March 26, 2022
I cracked open the cover, saw it was written as a journal and thought, "Ugh, not another story written as a journal." Within three entries, I was looking for a hammer and some nails to board my doors and windows to ban visitors, so I could read it in peace.

This is a flawed piece of fiction, filled with too many plot contrivances that don't work, inconsistent flow of the storyline, and an annoying protagonist who is often too ignorant to be believed. But, as soon as Captain Elliot (oh, Captain, my Captain!) steps on to the battlefield, you are willing to forgive both author and protagonist for the errors of their ways.

Captain Elliot is one of those rare male characters who falls into a unique category with Rhett Butler and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. He is delicious, and he is the reason you can't stop reading. When he wasn't around, I can't say I was incredibly interested in the other parts of the story, but as soon as he'd return, I was ready.

I can't think of a single man who would enjoy this read, but, if you are a woman who loves a romantic, adventurous story, then go grab a copy.

Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book491 followers
March 25, 2022
How fragile our lives are anyways. How quickly things can change forever.

This is a splendid book, full of human trial and victory, and singing with love and endurance. I developed a deep respect and admiration for Sarah Prine. Living in the Arizona Territory in the second half of the 19th Century would have been a challenge that not everyone could survive. In fact, Sarah herself says

Anyone who hasn’t got some backbone has no business trying to live in the Territories.

I am pretty sure that there is no one who reads and appreciates this book who doesn’t end up in love with Captain Jack Eliot. He is the kind of man who would not escape the adoration of a woman or the approbation of a man. He is an enigma and an awakening for Sarah, and we are so privileged to see him through her eyes, for we recognize his wonderful character while she is still discovering it. His superb characterization is what makes this book a 5-star read. Like Sarah, I found myself always peering into the distance, waiting for Captain Eliot to return.

Captain Elliot has this recklessness about him, and a way of holding on that you don’t know he is holding on, and a way of laughing that is like he takes pleasure in the act of laughing itself. He is better to have around in a scrap than a trained wildcat, though.

All the secondary characters, Sarah’s mother, Jack’s father, Savannah and Albert, the brothers, the children, the myriad of people who pass through Sarah’s life, are painted with exacting care. We are given every sort of strength and weakness, tenderness and meanness alive in the human race, and it was hard to imagine the hardships and tribulations these people, particularly the women, endured.

I marked dozens of passages to remember, for Nancy Turner puts words of wisdom into Sarah’s diary entries that even Sarah does not wholly grasp the sageness of. In fact, one of the most appealing things about Sarah is that she is often still so innocent and naive for a woman who has had such a harsh and serious life experience; and that she has that ability of children to see right into the heart of things and people.

A few of my favorites:

…this has hurt my heart and spirit more than all the other trials, for being forsaken is worse than being killed.

The likes of her isn’t going to listen nor be changed in the mind just from hearing sense. Some people sense is wasted on, and that’s purely a fact.

After a couple of hours the children began playing. They just cannot be sad too long, it is not in them; as children mourn in little bits here and there like patchwork in their lives.

Sometimes I feel like a tree on a hill, at a place where all the wind blows and the hail hits the hardest. All the people I love are down the side aways, sheltered under a great rock, and I am out of the fold, standing alone in the sun and the snow. I feel like I am not part of the rest somehow, although they welcome me and are kind. I see my family as they sit together and it is like they have a certain way between them that is beyond me. I wonder if other folks ever feel included yet alone.

It seems there is always a road with bends and forks to choose, and taking one path means you can never take another one. There’s no starting over nor undoing the steps I’ve taken.

It fascinated me to think that Nancy Turner based this upon an actual diary left by her own ancestor, and that there was an element of truth to Sarah's experiences.

I am happy that there are two more books featuring Sarah to follow this one. I enjoy Nancy Turner’s writing style and her beautiful descriptions and characterizations. I do not, however, expect the next two will be able to hold up to this one. It is so hard to make lightning strike twice in the same place–let alone three times, and this book is pretty darned perfect to me. And, for anyone who has read it, there is an obvious reason to not expect the same delight can carry through.

My sincere thanks to my friend, Lori, for recommending this book to our little reading group. I am excited that there will be discussion of it and I will not have to let go of these people or this place quite yet.
Profile Image for Wendy.
387 reviews25 followers
November 22, 2016
I debated between 2 and 4 stars, but after all is said and done I wouldn't recommend the book to my friends, so it came down to 2. As for reading enjoyment and ability to hold my interest, this book gets a 5. However, the first 30 pages contain enough trauma to send any woman to a pyschiatrist for years! Rape, murder, tragic child deaths, Indian attacks, attempted abduction, etc. It was a bit too much for me to handle.

Although the description says "inspired by the author's grandmother", very little of the story is based on fact. When I first started reading it I was floored that so much happened to one woman. After some research I found out that it wasn't the case, the tragedies had nothing to do with her grandmother. And while I had read many true life histories and am aware that some pioneer women had very traumatic lives, this one goes a little over the top.
Profile Image for Lori  Keeton.
479 reviews107 followers
April 7, 2022
updated review
In 2013 I declared this book my new favorite and one that I would recommend wholeheartedly. Almost 10 years later and my second reading hasn’t changed except to make me fall more in love with Sarah Prine and her sassy, emotion-filled self. My goodness, I am so glad to have discovered this one of a kind character and thoroughly enjoyed the diary style story-telling that Nancy Turner chose to tell the story of her great grandmother. The novel began as a college writing assignment about a real person and evolved from there. Turner has loosely based this novel on her great-grandmother’s life whom she met once when she was 2 or 3 years old. Sarah didn’t actually leave behind a diary but any correspondence or family written history was lost when her house burned down in 1958. One written memoir from a brother was found and used for reference but most of what Turner knows of her family's history comes from listening to her grandmother, Minnie, tell stories.
My great-grandmother Sarah had ranched and worked like a man all her life, retiring at seventy-five only because, as she put it, her ‘aim with a lasso was off’.

Without adding anything to my original review, I'll echo my thoughts and feelings from back in 2013. I look forward to reading this again in another 10 years!

WOW! I didn't want this story to end! I love a good story with a strong female character (especially ones that actually lived) and this one did not disappoint at all! I loved reading about Sarah's determination to survive, ability to endure many hardships, desire to better herself by learning and wanting more education, and discovery of how much she truly loved her husband, Jack and her children. Sarah's sassy personality was especially endearing. My favorite remark she makes in the book is when she is fed up with Jack leaving all of the time to go find Geronimo that she tells him she'd wear a feather in her hair and leather moccasins on her feet if he'd stay home and chase her! She tells him she'd make sure she was much easier to catch! So funny!

Sarah was a remarkable woman, wife, and loving mother. Her emotions (up & down constantly) are so relatable that I practically felt myself right there with her. I laughed and cried all the way through this one. To me, that is a sign of a 5 star rating! I will be recommending this book to everyone as it is my new favorite.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,693 reviews453 followers
April 8, 2022
I loved reading the fictional diary of pioneer Sarah Prine, partly based on the life of author Nancy E Turner's great-grandmother. Sarah is only 18 years old when her family travels by wagon to Arizona. It's a dangerous trip through Indian territory, guarded by Captain Jack Elliot and his soldiers. After her family settles in Arizona, Sarah marries a friend in what would prove to be a short, unhappy marriage before his death. Sparks would fly when she sees Captain Jack again. The story of their warm, loving relationship and the challenges of living in Arizona Territory fill the rest of Sarah's diary. The early diary entries show misspelled words and poor grammar. But Sarah finds some boxes of books in an abandoned wagon, and her writing improves quickly as she develops a lifelong love of reading and learning.

Sarah is a spitfire--courageous, hardworking, devoted to her family, a smart businesswoman who also knows how to handle a gun. Sarah worries about Jack as he goes off on his assignments with the Army, but they share a genuine love when he returns. The hardships of frontier life are tempered by Jack's teasing and other humorous moments. This was a wonderfully written book about the West in the late 19th Century. I was on an emotional roller coaster as Sarah experienced the joys and sorrows of being a high-spirited pioneer woman.
Profile Image for Belinda.
1,331 reviews181 followers
March 5, 2019
4,75 sterren - Nederlandse paperback ☘️☘️☘️
Quote uit het boek : ik schoot door mijn schort heen. Hij had het niet in de gaten. Hij keek alleen naar Harland. Hij richte zijn pistool op mij. Ik schoot nogmaals. Heer ik ben een bergleeuw als het over mijn familie en kinderen gaat. 🌹🌹🌹
Op een prachtige manier wordt er geschreven door een jong meisje wat uitgroeid tot een vrouw met ballen. Het leven is hard in the territory’s, en het gaat niet over rozen. Toch is ze op vele momenten gelukkig, maar diepe dalen worden haar niet bespaard. Ze heeft een goede geest en een diep verstand. Chapeau 🦋🦋🦋🦋
Profile Image for Maureen.
331 reviews77 followers
July 28, 2021
Wonderful epic saga. It is the story of Sarah Agnes Prine written as a diary from the journals of Nancy Turners’s ancestor. It portrays Sarah’s struggles with pioneer life in the Arizona Territory in the late 1880’s.
Sarah is a very courageous young woman, was only 17 when she began her journals as her family traveled from New Mexico to San Angelo, Texas.
She journalized her daily life describing death, illness, devastation and horrific Indian attacks.
I loved Sarah, she was a very determined to educate her self and to read more books. Her accounts of her daily life improve as time goes by and she matures.
There was no stopping Sarah, she managed a ranch with cattle made soap to feed her family and cared for her children.
Then there was Captain Jack Elliot. I loved their relationship, the highs and the lows. I loved how Captain Jack called Sarah “The General” as she bosed him around.
This is a heart wrenching story of love and loss on the American frontier, to make a better life. A must read.
Profile Image for Tweety.
433 reviews198 followers
January 3, 2016
After my heart stops hurting I'll write a review, it takes time when you've just fallen off a cliff.

I think I can write it now

I will admit something here and now. Before I read a book I always read the dedication. This book is dedicated To everyone who has ever stood on a hill in a storm That caught my interest really quick and then, six pages in I came across this passage. What can I say? I was hooked. And you know what? I've never even seen a Cottenwood, but Sarah showed it to me.

Page 6: A cottenwood makes a little sound with the leaves like they are talking to each other, a gentle and soft sound. In the fall they turn yellow and copper and the ground under the cottenwood looks like it is covered with pennies. Under our cottenwood back home I used to collect the pennies and pretend I was rich. One time I sewed them onto a bonnet to be pretty, but they dried out and fell off.

(Golden cottonwood trees reflect in Palm Lake)
Found at http://wildinarizona.com/wordpress/?t...

Whet I loved about Sarah is she was Sassy, Bossy and Strong. But she wasn't the "I can do it all myself so I don't need you" type. I truly admired her, even if I think she made a few foolish mistakes. This quote give you an idea of what she's like.

Page 166: "I wonder if Jack Elliott is with them. We keep our eyes on the horizon and our guns loaded.

Yes sir, watch your back, bullets are flying. She was so easy to like, and Jack was perfect for her. I'm sure she could have been happy with someone else, but they complemented each other like no one else could have. In the Synopsis it said they were as romantic as Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara. They were so much more.

Jack was one of the sweetest heroes I have ever read about, the book wouldn't have been the same without him. He was near perfect. He lightened the dark places and created the bright cheery moments. His kind gestures and quiet ways of showing love to his wife and children won me over to his side, I never want to read about Sarah being with anyone else. Can you picture Rhett Butler marrying anyone but Scarlet? I should think not! So now I must say one thing I Hated about this book… (read the spoiler if you want to know about the HEA)


Before I end this let me tell you that was a darned cruel way to end the book. I Will Never, Ever, Ever reread the last thirty pages. Everytime I think about it I tear up. If you want a HEA you better stop on page 357, after the entry June 9, 1893 When you get to August 22 everything, absolutely everything goes downhill. On future rereads I will end the book on a happy note and make up my own ending. And you can bet it will be worlds beter than this ending was. Talk about a Tear Jerker! :/ I'm off to read a Georgette Heyer book, maybe she will cheer me up.

*End of Spoiler*

A Strong PG-13. One character is raped, (we do not see all of this but it is none the less disturbing), another character is almost raped and there are multiple murders. Also, Sarah's wedding night is mentioned, however it's respectfully done. Savannah and Sarah mention "how to not get pregnant again", but there aren't any details.

If I didn't already own this, I would be off to get my own copy. So, if you can get passed the violence in the first forty pages, you will uncover a gem. (Or at least, I did) Also, if you've read and loved Mrs. Mike you'll love this
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
March 12, 2009
I probably would not have finished this book if I were not reading it for book club. I enjoyed reading it at times, but mostly, I was trying not to roll my eyes and just appreciate that it was Nancy Turner's first novel and it's good for a first shot (although I have read some incredible first novels before). The book is about a woman growing up in the Arizona territories and is written in diary format.

The Good: It's a nice historical novel that really makes you get what life was like then and there. It was a fast and engaging read. The romance was nice and the women characters were wonderful. I was worried there would be a cheesy ending, but the ending made sense and saved the book from total cheesiness.

The Bad: I think diary format is cheating a little. The entries were unrealistic as diary entries and not well-crafted prose for a narrative. There are so many parts that cross over into cliche and often the book seemed like it was a romance novel disguised as historical fiction (neither of which are genres I like). I thought all the characters were two-dimentional although I do appreciate what the author does with Sarah, making her strong and independent, yet honest and vulnerable. Most of the language didn't make sense for the time and place the book was supposed to be written in--I don't get why the title is misspelled as most of the book is near perfect grammar. I think the author takes a lot of liberties with the history of the region and also infuses modern ideology onto her characters.

I do understand why a lot of people like this book because it IS a beautiful and timeless story, but I am one of these readers that cannot get over bad writing to appreciate even the most touching story.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
April 4, 2012
These is my words by Nancy E. Turner is the "Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 Arizona Territories.

The blurb on this book reads " The classic adventure of one courageous woman's life struggles in the Arizona Territories in the late nineteenth century, A moving exciting and heartfelt American saga inspired by the authors’ own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full remarkable existence in a harsh unfamiliar frontier"

I was really looking forward to this novel but the first 50 pages of the book really had me wondering would I actually throw in the towel on this one as there was so much death and tragedy it was difficult to believe so I took some time out and did a little research to see how much of this story was fact and how much was fiction, and I was so disappointed to learn that very little of this book was actually based on fact and while it is inspired by the authors grandmother, the book is mostly fiction.

I had thought this book was a true account of Agnes prine and therefore was very disappointed. Perhaps if I had realised when purchasing that it was mostly fiction I would have approached the story differently and therefore engaged better with this book. This book has amazing reviews and perhaps I am missing something else about this story but for me this novel was over written and I never got to feel the setting of the book or the characters and felt the plot was predictable.
For me this was a long 384 pages.
Profile Image for Rachelle.
313 reviews38 followers
October 27, 2012
This is pretty much my favorite book I've ever read along with it's sequel Sarah's Quilt. First of all, it is a beautiful love story. I cried so much. Any book that makes me feel really emotional, I consider to be a good book. But it is also an incredible tale of determination and down right stubborness. I love that Sarah learned to read, loved learning and by so doing changed her life. I love the way she endured challenges. I want to read it again so I can put more details in here.


I have since reread this book many many times. I go to it whenever I am in need of a really good love story. After many readings... I definitely have to say that Sarah is one of my all-time favorite heroines. She honestly pops into my head all of the time. When I am feeling grumbly about too much laundry to do I think of Sarah doing her wash by hand in 100+ degree weather. When I don't feel like cooking dinner I remember how Sarah had to catch her chicken and kill it before she could even get dinner started. LOL!! When Aaron is out of town and I feel lonely.. I remember that Sarah went months without Jack and then he'd be gone again in a week. But they loved so fiercely and never wasted the time they did have. She is tough, but not unhappy. She finds her peace in the quiet moments that are so rare but so precious. Overall it's inspiring, beautiful and sad and heartbreaking all in one. I love it.
Profile Image for Julie  Durnell.
1,014 reviews100 followers
October 18, 2016
This was an exceptionally good book-I don't normally read this type of book but was instantly hooked. Sarah is a remarkable pioneer woman who overcomes so many roadblocks in life both as someone living in this age and as a woman who runs a ranch and wants to be educated so badly. Her indomitable spirit infuses the pages of her diary that records her feelings and adventures and sorrows. There are a few incidents that describe the horrific and gritty sides to life in the Arizona territories; I did not feel that they detract from the story, but rather keep in step with the courage of pioneering. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
350 reviews393 followers
November 14, 2016
This got off to a slow start for me, and I didn't care for the pacing at the beginning. However, I grew to love this take-no-prisoners, kick-tail female protagonist, and this ended up being an apropos list for an election week that left me reeling.
Profile Image for Terry.
298 reviews66 followers
April 9, 2022
I have to say that I almost always like first person narratives, possibly because it makes me feel close to the principal character of the novel. These Is My Words is the written diary entries of Sarah Prine, a spunky pioneer young woman heading with towards the Arizona Territories after the end of the Civil War. I don’t mind epistolary novels, although I understand that some may not like that form. In this case, I was impelled to read each entry to see what happened in the life that unfolds.

There are exquisitely drawn characters in this book, besides Sarah, especially Captain Jack Elliott, but also Mama, Savannah and Blue Horse, among them. As Sarah interacts with these and others throughout her times, she examines her life and circumstances and bring these thoughts down to her specific experiences.

These are three quotes which I appreciated:

When comparing her life to the life of a woman in a romantic novel, Sarah says, “Accustomed is what the scarlet velvet woman was. She was accustomed to her sorrows it said, as she had been accustomed to great riches and fine foods. We are accustomed to Indian wars and sorrows and traveling fast and folks dying.”

When Sarah decides what is valuable to her, she writes, “These books are not trash, I said, as I know they are the opposite. They were the only thing I wanted in my life more than I could name. They are pearls in my hair and scarlet velvet gowns but I could not say that out loud because they would think I was touched.”

And when she is feeling exposed and lonely, she says, “Sometimes I feel like a tree on a hill, at the place where all the wind blows and the hail hits the hardest. All the people I love are down the side always, sheltered under a great rock, and I am out of the fold, standing alone in the sun and the snow. I feel like I am not part of the rest somehow, although they welcome me and are kind. I see my family as they sit together and it is like they have a certain way between them that is beyond me. I wonder if other folks ever feel included but alone. Maybe I am getting addled living out here on this ranch.”

Yes, Sarah, I think you are describing a universal feeling, certainly something that I felt at times in my life, especially when I was at a young age.

Five heart felt stars for this book.

Profile Image for Jim Angstadt.
658 reviews36 followers
April 29, 2022
This is my favorite book, so far, this year, maybe including last year as well.

In spite of a sometimes harsh environment, Sarah displays an adaptability, work-ethic, kindness, and intellect that lets her, and her family, flourish.
Profile Image for Margaret.
190 reviews3 followers
August 19, 2008
I try not to be too generous when I give out 5 stars and I try to give them out to only the books that truly deserve them in my opinion. “These is My Words” is a book that I thought deserved 5 stars from the first 50 pages or so. It is a story about Sarah Prine who is sixteen when the story starts out growing up in the 1880’s in the Arizona Territories. It is in a journal format. At first Sarah’s grammar is not so good and it is somewhat difficult to read but as the story progresses her grammar gets better and I was completely pulled into the story and so engrossed in the fascinating life of a girl in the 1880’s. Throughout the book Sarah has some very difficult trials and also some very sweet experiences. The love story that takes place in it was truly a delight to read and made my heart swoon at times because of how romantic and exciting it was for Sarah to find her true love.
My two complaints about the book is that it seemed extra long and there was a sad ending. But after I thought about my complaints they turned to positive points. If Nancy would have ended the book at about half way through the book, I would have been satisfied with the story. But she continued the story to show what happened after the love story took place when usually books end when the main characters have fallen in love. It was special to see their love grow through the years and see their family develop. The sad ending made me mad at first but life is sad sometimes and it is how we deal with those sad things that make us stronger people. Life can be happy and wonderful even though we experience hard trials.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jen.
288 reviews
October 4, 2007
I totally DID NOT want to read this book, but did for a book group. I loved it. It reminded me of my grandma who grew up AZ and the crazy, hard life that she had. I remember feeling like she was kind of strange, uneducated, and maybe a little scary because she was so tough... she had like 18 inch biceps-- we are talking strong. She was just so different from my other very educated,very classy, rich grandma that I was close to growing up. After reading this book I really wished I would have taken the time to get to know her and appreciate her stories that were truly unfathomable to me. It made me feel proud that I have her blood in mine... that maybe I can be a combination of both incredible grandma's, refined yet strong.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,739 reviews14.1k followers
November 8, 2012
3.5 Easy to read, I really liked the format of this book. The first 20 pgs. or so were very depressing, so many people dying, tragedy after tragedy, but I know the early settlers did have it very difficult. Would have liked it more had it been based on historical fact, but all in all Sarah was a very plucky and hardworking woman, and I found the story held my interest.
Profile Image for Stephanie Anze.
657 reviews112 followers
April 17, 2020
“Mama told me to make a special point to remember the best times of my life. There are so many hard things to live through, and latching on to the good things will give you strength to endure, she says. So I must remember this day. It is beautiful and this seems like the best time to live and the best place”

Sarah Prine is traveling westward with her family as new frontiers are opening in Arizona. Seeking other opportunities and a fresh start, the Prine family sets out on a journey that is equally exciting as it is dangerous. As she grows up and is able to settle down, fall in love and marry, Sarah faces uncertain times but also is able to achieve incredible goals. Writing in her dairy, Sarah charts her journey as it changes, both on a literal and physical level. On a journey forged with blood, sweat, and tears, Sarah emerges a strong beacon of hope.

This book, I would say, counts as a classic. There are numerous lists that include it as "must-read". I had it sitting among my books for quite a while. A simple way to describe it would be to say it is the story of a girl from Arizona (that makes me think of Eleanor Shellstrop; I have been re-watching The Good Place while being on quarantine but I digress). Now that I have finally read it, I can understand why These is my Words has achieved this status. Sarah Prine is a small child when her family starts traveling uncharted frontiers. Along the way, they encounter rough terrain and dangerous people. On the other hand, they also meet other families on the same journey, gain new friends and a new life. Its not an easy existence, though, as everything that is needed to survive needs to be fought for and be fiercely protected. Narrated exclusively by Sarah, through her journal entries, this is her story as she grows up, falls in loves, marries, forms her own family, learns to read and write and how each new change shapes her into a remarkable woman. Taking place from the late 1800's to the early 1900's, this is a narrative of adventure, survival and a coming-of-age story.

There is no denying that characterization is done well in this book. Sarah evolves tremendously and the more her education increases, the less grammar and spelling mistakes are found in her journal entries. She is a woman of grit, nerve, and determination. I especially liked the courting of Jack Elliot and their eventual marriage. Based on the real-life story of Nancy Turner's great-grandmother, this is quite a story of the wild west and of a woman refusing to be cowed by it. I enjoyed reading this book but I would not describe as exciting. In certain passages, it was tough to remain engaged. I have mixed feeling by the overall format but the general story was well plotted and told. I can honestly this, the voice and overall tone of this book feels real and genuine. It sure makes me feel very grateful for not being born in that time period. All and all, this was a good read.

Profile Image for Lucy.
475 reviews594 followers
May 1, 2009
Way back in the day, before I had ever joined a book group, before the world knew about blogging and before I began keeping track of the books with reviews, I read a book I loved called These Is My Words. I know I loved it all those years ago, and have told countless friends and acquaintances to read it based on that memory of loving it but, if you want to know the truth, the details about the story have become...err....a bit sketchy.

Oh, I remembered that it involved pioneers and a romance and a woman whose English skills improved with time, but beyond that, I was as clueless as the person who has never read it. Time and a poor long-term memory will do that.

Following spring break, I went to the library to pick up some holds that had become available. As I looked at the titles, I realized that at some point, I must have looked at a list of recent Pulitzer or Booker prize winners and nominees because each of them had some kind of acknowledgment on their cover. I sighed at the prospect of only having these options in the forthcoming weeks. Nothing against prize winning literature, but they tend to lean towards the heavier side of life. And I needed a break from heavy.

With books in my arms, I decided to browse through the shelves of fiction, hoping I might find something on the lighter side as a diversion. As I came to the "T"s, I noticed the book Sarah's Quilt, which is a sequel to These Is My Words.

At that moment, the only book I wanted to read was These Is My Words. Of course, the library didn't have a copy available, but the audio book version was on its shelf. 12 CDs and I left that library together.

I imagined listening to the story in my minivan as I drove around from errand to errand, but was quickly reminded that although the story is "clean" it isn't really for young children. There are descriptions of some rather brutal happenings as Sarah Agnes Prine and her family trek from Texas to the Arizona frontier to become homesteaders. Indian skirmishes, dying children and men taking advantage of scared young girls kept my listening a private affair.

I imagine most people who regularly listen to audio books have some kind of system that allows them to upload them to an ipod or something similar. My little ipod shuffle doesn't have that kind of memory, so I was forced to either play the CDs through my computer or listen to them on the portable DVD player we bought for our kids to use on trips. Again, I disliked the exposure of the computer speakers and after one disc, exclusively used the unwieldy DVD player.

Portable or not, holding onto something the size of a large book doesn't lend itself well to getting much done. On day one, I reserved my listening to lying in bed before I went to sleep. But, as anyone who has ever read/listened to These Is My Words before, it wasn't long before it consumed my thoughts and I couldn't help but put the next disc in....and then the one after that.

I did manage to iron a few things during one CD, but it was awkward. the cord of my headphones wasn't very long, and I found myself crouching next to the ironing board with my head bent in order to listen. In addition, if I was ironing a pair of pants and needed the entire board, I had to rig the DVD player underneath my armpit, and after a few times of the machine falling to the ground and pulling my neck with it, I gave up ironing:)

Oh...I loved this book! The reasons why came flooding back into my thoughts. I love Sarah and her no-nonsense strength. I loved her honesty, as a daughter, as a sister and especially later as a wife. I love how she mothers. I love how she tolerates her circumstances, celebrates her victories and mourns her trials. I just loved her.

Throw in Captain Jack Elliot and one of the greatest love stories in literature and you've got yourself the makings of a great book. No wonder I remember liking it so well.

The audio version had its advantages and disadvantages. I liked the narrator. She had a drawl that influenced my speech and thoughts for days afterward. I found myself using the phrase, "Fit to be tied" when I became frustrated. I may have even said it out loud once. And I'm still hoping my mother-in-law didn't notice too much when I over-enunciated my "r"s. I caught myself before it became too big a problem.

The one minus was that she also narrated for Captain Jack. I don't care how great a voice you have, a woman's voice lowered to sound like a man's still sounds like a woman's voice. Every time she spoke Jack's lines, I thought, "Nope...still you."

I am so glad I reconnected with this book. As soon as I finished, I ordered a copy off of Amazon.com, just so that I could have it handy whenever the mood strikes again. While certainly not "light" and definitely not "fluffy", I enjoyed Sarah's Prine's story of life in the Arizona territories during the end of the 19th century. If you're one of the few who haven't read it yet, I highly recommend the experience.
Profile Image for Deanne Patterson.
1,829 reviews89 followers
March 30, 2016
This book was nitty gritty and I LOVED IT! I have been reading Christian fiction historicals for so long that I forgot what it was like to just read a historical novel that wasn't Christian and refined and have things prim and proper and the bad glossed over! This novel was based on a diary written by the author's grandmother from the years 1881-1901. I loved the realness of it. It tells about life the way it really was back then on the Arizona territories. I am looking forward to reading the two other books in this series by this author!
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