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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.
31 of 33 people found this review helpful
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.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
This is a touching story of two women in love, trying to make a life together in 19th century rural America. The story is inspired by a real life couple which makes it even more poignant. Jean Smart and Janis Ian do an amazing job of embodying Patience and Sarah and their different characters. The portrayal of their relationship is brilliantly realistic - they each have differing strengths and weaknesses and don't always do the right thing by each other. But their love for each other gives them the strength to find their happy ending.
This must be the finest audio book I've heard. The quality of the writing, the narrative and dialogue is superb, mental images inspired sublime. Oh, and the narrators subtly enhance what is already a rare treat. I shall no doubt return to this little joy again, once my imagination has stopped playing with it.