Book Review: Patience and Sarah – The Ultimate in Romance
As many of you know, my first published book was a single-author collection of F/F erotic romance short stories. (It’s still available, by the way: Four Part Hermony.) F/F romance stories are still near and dear to my heart, though I certainly read a lot of M/F and M/F/F stories as well. Recently, I was introduced to a classic F/F romance, entitled Patience & Sarah. It was originally written in the 1970s, and sold on street corners, by its author, Isabel Miller. Later, it was picked up by a major publisher and distributed widely. I read the Kindle edition, published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2005.
Patience & Sarah is a historical romance, set in Connecticut in the early 1800s. It tells the story of two women, spinsters, who are very opposite in their lifestyles. One is basically a homemaker (though unmarried), doing the routine chores of a nineteenth century woman: canning, quilting, spinning, sewing, cooking, cleaning, milking the cows, babysitting, etc. Patience helps in her brother’s household. Sarah, on the other hand, comes from a family of all girl children. Early on in her life, her father designated her as “the boy” and taught her all the traditionally male farmer’s skills, including tree felling, planting, carpentry, and animal husbandry. When Patience and Sarah meet, they find instant rapport. This leads to something more intimate (kisses). They both realize that what they’re doing would get them in trouble with the community, though each stubbornly wonders why that has to be so. It is, though, and when their families find out, there is hell to pay. It looks like Patience and Sarah are bound to be separated and unfulfilled for the rest of their lives. Through a series of interesting adventures, the two women finally find their way, though not without quite a few trials and tribulations.
This novel, written in a series of short “books” (really segments), is told from Patience’s perspective at first, and then in the next “book”, Sarah’s. It alternates throughout. This is remarkable, not because that’s never been done before, but because it’s so cleanly done. You can really hear Patience’s more educated voice in contrast to Sarah’s uneducated vernacular. And yet, both perspectives are full, rich, intimate, and tender. You feel like these two women are meant for each other based upon their thoughts and experiences. It is wonderful literature, the kind of which you rarely see in romance books these days.
This is not an erotic book. Not at all. It’s a romantic book, with kisses and sighs and some vague hint of some sort of intimate contact involving “melting.” You don’t get details, but you know something is going on. I like that aspect of the book. We don’t need the nitty-gritty details to be wrapped up in these two lovers’ physical relationship. We know what’s likely happening. And yet, this is definitely an adult book. The concepts are strong and complex, not for people who don’t have an open, romantic heart.
I highly recommend Patience & Sarah. You will not regret the price tag. You can get it from Amazon here.