• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Sarah, Plain and Tall and Feminism


Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

“Did mama sing every day?” asked Caleb. “Every-single-day?” He sat close to the fire, his chin in his hand.  It was dusk, and the dogs lay beside him on the warm hearthstones.

Somehow in my reading lifetime I missed Sarah, Plain and Tall; I recently discovered this gem and can see why it is so beloved.  After Papa is left a widower with small children at home, he puts an ad in the newspaper for a wife.  What he gets is Sarah.  Sarah is a perfect match for Papa and the children and the delightful tale of their growing relationships gently unfolds during the story.

No matter how much I enjoyed the story (and the possibility of reading the sequels) I cannot help thinking that there is no ethnic diversity in the story.  But not nonexistent.  The author very slyly imposes a feminist approach to Sarah’s character.  Sarah is smart and physically strong and is able to perform many tasks around the farm that are traditionally male and forces the family to understand that these abilities are part of her character.  Naturally, Papa has trouble adjusting to this type of woman. These-strong minded female character traits are important for young readers to be exposed to.  This viewpoint provides diversity with Sarah is a role model.

Diversity benefits this entire family as Sarah decides whether she will stay and become Papa’s wife.

This book is a re-read and counts toward my YA books of the 80s and 90s challenge.

I give this story four paws!

Edited to add: Check out what happened when I read this gem!





Edited to add: Check out what happened when I read this gem!