sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

July 11, 2012

into the stacks: sarah, plain and tall
posted by soe 2:24 am

Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan

From the jacket: “Caleb doesn’t remember Mama, who died a day after he was born. But his older sister, Anna, says Papa and Mama sang ‘every-single-day.’ Now Papa doesn’t sing at all. Papa places an ad in the newspaper for a wife and he receives an answer from a woman named Sarah, who lives in Maine.”

My take: Told from the perspective of 10-year-old Anna, this is the story of a Kansas farm family in the late 19th century. Papa has advertised for a wife, and Sarah, who describes herself as plain and tall, has responded. She and her cat might be willing to move across the country from the Maine coastline to join them. In advance of her agreeing to come for a trial month-long stay, Sarah, Papa, Anna, and her younger brother, Caleb, exchange letters, asking and answering questions.

When Sarah arrives, it is an adjustment for everyone, but most particularly for the woman who has traveled so far and given up so much. Will Sarah overcome her homesickness and stay? Or will Anna and Caleb lose yet another mother figure?

I remember when this book came out. I must have moved past my historical fiction period into my contemporary fiction phase by that point, because I can think of no other reason why I would have skipped over this book. I am happy to report that it is charming and makes a lovely companion to the early Little House books and Caddie Woodlawn.

If you saw and loved the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies starring Christopher Walken and Glen Close, rest assured, you will find the book (and apparently its sequels) familiar. They tapped the novel’s author to write the screenplays for the film series.

A sweet, simple book, well worth the hour it will take to read to yourself or the few nights it might take to read aloud with a child.

Pages: 58

Category: books. There is/are 2 Comments.

Another one I love! I bet Ellie would like it too. We’re reading the Borrowers right now – the vocabulary is way over her head, but that has not dampened her enthusiasm. We haven’t started Little House yet, I’m not sure she’s ready for the shoot your food thing. Maybe in a year. 😀

Comment by Emily 07.12.12 @ 8:04 pm

@Emily: Ha! I completely understand that. I’m pretty sure there’s some butchering in that first LH book, too.

Comment by soe 08.10.12 @ 12:30 am