Patience & Sarah by Isabel Miller
Patience and Sarah is a novel about two girls falling in love and trying to live together in the 19th century.
Love is a strong element in the novel. It is what drives the main characters into action but it is not the only kind of love we discover while reading. Patience sister in law has a longing for Patience and Parson falls in love with Sarah while she passes as a boy. But we can also find a more platonic love like the one Patience brother has for his sister. I really enjoyed how all the relationships were described, it always felt very true. I especially liked having the novel narrated alternatively by Patience and Sarah. It allows the reader to get a wider picture of both characters, getting their thoughts on the same situation. They both have very distinctive voices so it was never boring to switch voice and read again about what had already happened.
However the story is much more than a love story, it’s also a journey Patience and Sarah have to undertake before being able to live together. At first their love is instinctive, like love at first sight, and they are in consequence too quick in their reaction. Sarah is too innocent while Patience too cautious. They both have to undertake a long journey within themselves before being able to be re-united and in a way to test their love. I especially enjoyed Sarah’s journey and how she grew up, becoming more aware of the world.
Another aspect of the novel I really appreciated is how religion is treated and how Patience sees it. She never really think herself as a sinner because she feels that something as good as love cannot be a sin in God’s eyes. I really enjoyed how she relates her life to the Bible to create her paintings.
All in all it is an excellent book and I would recommend it to everyone. There was a few things I didn’t enjoy such as the change of tense in the verbs, but overall I loved Patience and Sarah and it is definitely going in my to reread list.
When I first picked this up I had just started reading LGBTQ books. I have to say it is still one of my favorites for some reason. The story and the characters are drawn in a very simplistic manner, but there is such an honesty about all of them and the story that just pulls you in. Historically it is also interesting, as it is based on the traces the author could gather about a painter’s life who lived with her partner on a farm (yeah, back in those days!). Moreover it was written before it was safe to publish books about openly gay relationships. Because of this I would even call this book a classic.
Oh, I would definitely agree with you! It’s a classic of lesbian literature. And it’s so hopeful.