Patience and Sarah

  • by Isabel Miller
  • Narrated by Jean Smart, Janis Ian
  • 5 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Grammy Award Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album, 2016
Set in the 19th century, Isabel Miller's classic lesbian novel traces the relationship between Patience White, an educated painter, and Sarah Dowling, a farmer's daughter, whose romantic bond does not sit well with the puritanical New England community in which they live. They choose to live together and love each other freely, even though they know of no precedents for their relationship; they must trust their own instincts and see beyond the disdain of their neighbors.
Patience and Sarah is a meticulously researched historical novel, originally self-published by the author in 1969. This classic of GLBT literature garnered so much attention that the American Library Association created its first Stonewall Award specifically for it in 1971. Grammy Award-winning narrator Janis Ian and Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Jean Smart each perform as one of the characters in this dual-point-of-view love story. Their narration marks the first time that this beautiful work is available in audio and brings new life into this inspiring novel that is just as relevant today as it was decades ago.
In addition to being an inspiring love story, the audiobook for Patience and Sarah is an ideal listen for young-adult audiences. It is a story that shows how irrelevant race, religion, and gender are to love and that loving and being loved are what keep us human and sane.

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What the Critics Say

"The writing has the directness and whimsicality of primitive paintings - it is like spiked gingerbread or surprising samplers. The tone is sweetly bold. And the tale evokes many kinds of frontier at once." (The Village Voice)
"The story of a painter and a farmer in 19th-century New England. One of the first lesbian novels with a happy ending and, in 1971, the first recipient of ALA's Stonewall Book Award." (Library Journal)
"Janis Ian and Jean Smart bring exquisite joy, vulnerability, and honesty to their narration of Isabel Miller's 1969 historical fiction novel.... As the two women realize their feelings for each other, the narrators take on a tender tone and slow their pace, allowing their romantic epiphany to unfold. This makes for a touchingly intimate listening experience." (AudioFile)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A beautiful tale blooms with great narration.

I first read Patience and Sarah more than 40 years ago, and remembered it fondly as one of the first LGBT novels to contain three-dimensional characters, and to give those characters a happy ending. I was a bit apprehensive about listening to this audiobook -- I didn't want the tenderness and innocence of the plot and characters to be ruined by an insensitive interpretation by the narrators.

I needn't have worried: Jean Smart and Janis Ian are perfect as Patience and Sarah. Jean Smart delivers a lovely and delicate performance as an educated young single woman who, as was often the case in the early 19th Century, has no choice but to live with her married brother and his family. While she is better off than many other single women (her father did settle certain property and money on her, which is, of course, controlled by her brother), she is not a happy woman, and (based upon her sister-in-law's life) is not interested in obtaining a husband.

Janis Ian gives an excellent performance as Sarah, the daughter of a farmer whose farm is a few miles from Patience's brother's land. In the absence of a son in the family, Sarah's father has designated her as the "boy" who works alongside her father in the fields and generally lifts, hauls and performs manual labor. If you are familiar with Janis Ian's speaking voice, you will know that it serves very well as the voice of an unpolished girl who has grown up among men and boys, and speaks roughly.

From the time that Patience and Sarah first meet, each is intrigued by the other. As time goes by, their feelings deepen into emotions that they have no words for. The descriptions of small town life and farming in 1800's New England ring true, as do the objections of Sarah's father and Patience's brother to their relationship. And the apprehension of both women when they are finally able to break free and go together into an unknown world is very well handled by the author. The final joy is a wonderful ending.

This book is well worth a listen, no matter your orientation or your political views.
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- Nancy J "Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover"

Even better than I imagined!

Would you listen to Patience and Sarah again? Why?

I'm familiar with this story, but the voices of Jean Smart and Janis Ian brought these characters to life in a way the voice in my head never did. I will listen to this many times, especially when I share beautiful passages with others.


Who was your favorite character and why?

All of them


Which character – as performed by Jean Smart and Janis Ian – was your favorite?

Jean Smart's voice of Patience was so sweet and delightful, with a touch of naughty that was just delicious.


Any additional comments?

I laughed out loud, chuckled and at times wept with joy throughout this story.
Can't wait to listen again.

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- Justdar

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-15-2015
  • Publisher: Audible Studios