Sarah’s Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgivenes by Beverly Scott, reviewed by Maurice L. Monette
If you enjoy being transported to another time in U.S. history, to an unfamiliar place and culture, with people who are different from yourself, then you may like Sarah’s Secret as much as I did.
Written with sensitivity from a mother and wife’s perspective, the story immerses the reader into the arduous life of women homesteading in the prairie and desert states at the turn of the last century. The details are so vivid that they could only emerge from the mind of an author who has intimately experienced motherhood and marriage, and has carefully researched history.
Particularly delightful to this lover of history are the many detailed descriptions, such as living in a dugout with no windows, surviving winter snowstorms on the plains, driving cattle to market, scraping for food and water on the prairie, and surviving tornadoes, thieves, land wars, and small town feuds. I learned about hanging muslin sheets to prevent rodents from falling from sod roofs into living spaces; avoiding getting close to a fire so as to prevent chilblains; and feeling vibrations in the ground from an approaching horse.
The page-turners for me were the Midwestern sayings and expressions dotting almost every page: not enough grass to winter a prairie dog; wrinkles as deep as the Rio Grande; cold as a knot on the North Pole; dark as night under an iron skillet; a leaky mouth; and asking if a dour person was raised on sour milk.
The amount of research required for this book reminded me of authors like James Michener. While this story is not a Michener epic, making it as believable as it is surely required careful research.
Loved the book. I will even read it again to improve my own writing. I can’t wait to probe it for more great Midwest expressions!
Maurice L. Monette is a writer and artist, fully devoted to art after many years as an executive coach, management consultant, university professor and director of graduate programs. His books and articles explore leadership development and adult education. His latest book is a memoir, Confessions of a Gay Married Priest: A Spiritual Journey.
Note from Marlene: Bev Scott will be one of the presenters at the February 10, 2021 Writers Forum Zoom chat. A copy of Story Power will be given away at this event. Bev is a contributor to Story Power.