Audiobook read by Glenn Close. In this sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall, a drought strikes the prairie. The family hangs on as long as they can, but after a destructive and terrifying fire, the father stays on the land and sends Sarah and the kids back to Maine.

Though this has a lovely happy ending, and is as well-written and moving as the first book, the characters are so unhappy for so much of the book that it was nowhere near as enjoyable for me as the first book. This was exacerbated by listening to it on audio rather than reading it, so the pace was much slower. For much of it, I felt as frustrated and gloomy as the characters.

That being said, it has important plot developments for the next book, which hopefully will be more cheerful.
Audiobook read by Glenn Close. I would not have recognized her voice if I hadn’t known. Excellent reading, though the little boy’s dialogue is a bit shrill.

A short, sweet children’s book, spare and moving. Though it won the Newbery in 1986, it is amazingly not depressing!

Somewhere on the Great Plains, some time in the 1800s, a farmer advertises for a wife. His own wife died years ago, leaving their daughter and son motherless. Sarah, a spinster on the coast of Maine, begins corresponding with the entire family, telling them about her life, her cat, and her beloved sea. Eventually she comes to visit, to see if they all like each other well enough to become a family.

I’ve read a lot of books with the general story of “kids might be getting a new parent/parent of kids considers remarriage.” This is the only modern one I’ve ever read in which the conflict is not the children feeling ambivalent or outright hostile to the new prospective parent. The children in this novel start out with positive feelings about getting a new mother, and fall in love with Sarah. The conflict is whether Sarah, who loves the sea, can reconcile herself to a totally new environment.

This is a beautifully written, atmospheric novel. It isn’t sad, but the audiobook did bring tears to my eyes at one point. The ending is especially lovely. It has a lot of similar appeal to the Little House books, but in distilled form.

Sarah, Plain and Tall
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