Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gone West

Hello All!

I've lived in Arizona for a year, and recently I've read two wonderful books that have piqued my interest about the history of Arizona, especially from a woman's perspective.

Last spring, I read These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901, Arizona Territories by Nancy E. Turner. It was chosen to be the adult title for One Book/One Arizona. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it's on my "favorite reads" list for 2008, and I learned a lot about the growth of Tucson and Arizona during the late 1800s. I also learned how difficult it was to be a woman during those very rough times on what was still the frontier. Sarah survived a lot, learned a lot, and grew as a person during the book--not all fictional characters do.

The second book I just finished, Army Wives on the American Frontier: Living by the Bugles by Anne Bruner Eales. It reminded me of These Is My Words, especially when the wives the book mentioned were posted in Arizona. These women went west expecting to live lives similar to what they lead in the East, and those expectations were shattered by Indian attacks, severe weather, wild animals, and lack of decent housing and food. While there were strong-willed Army wives, and some who had interesting adventures, I feel that these women's lives were much more limited in their experiences, as they lived in more dangerous places (usually where there was a constant threat of Indian attack), could only purchase supplies on post, Army pay was very low, and basically lived in a closed society. Despite these restrictions, the Army wives persevered, and felt restricted when they returned East, for a new posting or to visit family.

In contrast, for me, Sarah, in These Is My Words, could move about more freely, despite the threat of Indians, could farm or ranch, purchase goods from a small selection of merchants in Tucson, and do other things to enhance her finances, such as make soap.

I really felt these two books complimented each other, and I look forward to reading more about the development and history of Arizona. There are two more titles about Sarah Prine by Nancy E. Turner, and I own a title, bought at the Grand Canyon, called Grand Canyon Women: Lives Shaped By Landscape by Betty Leavengood (2nd edition). I look forward to reading those books, and seeing what else I can learn.

Happy Reading!


Cathy said...

I'm glad Lesa mentioned you on her blog because when I came over here to take a look, what do I see but a post about one of my favorite "share" books, These Is My Words! I've lived here in Arizona since 1976, and I've made it a point to collect books about the state as well as explore it off the beaten path. If you're interested, you can go here to see some of my Arizona offroad tales and photos. Nice "meeting" you--I'll make it a point to visit regularly!

Patti O said...

Thank you so much for your comments, Cathy! These Is My Words was actually recommended by a library patron of mine in Michigan probably a good 4-5 years ago! And it took me being here in AZ, and the book itself being the One Book/One AZ pick--it's actually kind of embarrassing :). I look forward to checking out your blog too :)!