Monday, October 7, 2013

The Star Garden: a Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine

Author:  Nancy E. Turner
Pages: 304
Rating: PG (some intense fighting scenes, mild swearing)

In this stunning sequel to the tale begun in These Is My Words and continued in the beloved Sarah's Quilt, pioneer woman Sarah Agnes Prine is nearing bankruptcy. After surviving drought and the rustling of her cattle in winter 1906, Sarah is shocked when her son brings home a bride who was slated to become a nun. Meanwhile, neighbor Udell Hanna is pressing for Sarah to marry him. Then a stagecoach accident puts Sarah in the path of three strangers, who will forever change her life....

My Thoughts: First of all, that summary is terrible. The people she meets in the stagecoach accident, although they do reappear later in the book, don't "forever change her life." That summary makes the stagecoach accident seem like much more of a plot point than it really is.

I had a rough time with this book, mostly because Sarah again is being a huge idiot when it comes to love. She loved Udell, but is so stubborn and ridiculous, it takes her forever to finally agree to marry him, and then she changes her mind at least twice. So frustrating. Also, this book is quite a bit darker than the other two. Although Sarah faced hardships in the past, I felt like this book was worse because her neighbor Rudolfo, who she used to be friendly with, is pretty much set to take Sarah's land from her. And if she won't let him, then he won't stop at anything to take it illegally, even if it means killing her whole family. So that creates a huge tension that finally climaxes near the end and makes you want to cry for days.

The realness of the characters was not diminished, however, and I still felt touched at the end, and like I'd read something that was really worth my time. You just can't get over the feeling of awe towards this woman. Sarah has had more than her fair share of trials, has buried WAY too many family members, and yet she still pushes forward and manages to find some happiness, even when she certainly has enough grief to justify giving up on life. She just comes to terms with her difficulties, and refuses to let them beat her. She's a character that, even though she annoys the heck out of you with her stubbornness sometimes, demands admiration and respect, while at the same time not sounding fake or like someone that couldn't possibly exist. I loved the three books in this little trilogy. So worth it.