© copyright 2012-2017 by Diana K. Perkins
By John H. Manhold on January 22, 2012
Singing Her Alive, A Fictional Memoir ISBN9781770671188, 1195, 1201, Friesen press by Diana
K. Perkins is an unusual story set in the Willimantic River Valley of Connecticut.
The book opens with Sarah coming home from Boston to join her mother, Bea, to bury her
Grandmother who has just passed away. As they are cleaning out the old home, Sarah discovers
some old diaries kept by her Grandmother and by her Aunt Doris, who had lived with her. Sarah is
intrigued by the house, its setting, and subconsciously by the hint of strange happenings she finds in
perusing the early pages of the diaries. She begins to think about buying the house from her mother
and, actually quite rapidly, decides to do so. A number of factors aid in her decision. 1) She has
never been totally committed to her life in Boston. 2) She has a number of acquaintances and a
lesbian couple with whom she is close, but no special friend of either gender. 3) She encounters car
trouble in her small town, and a local mechanic comes to help. The mechanic is a very friendly,
lovely young woman who had left her business position because she found this more enjoyable. 4)
An opportunity for employment opens in the local community. 5) Her mother sends around a
pleasant young man who is the local Veterinarian.
To provide more specifics of the story is to do a disservice to the reader. Suffice it to say the
diaries slowly reveal a most interesting, albeit complex, manner of life fulfillment for the writer, as
well as for her Grandfather Peter and his Friend William. The diaries additionally produce the
necessary impetus for Sarah's own lagging decisions about many aspects of her life.
This is a book that ordinarily I would not have selected. However, I should recommend it highly. It
is a most interesting and unusual tale dealing with unacceptable activity in another era and of its
effect upon individuals' behavior in the present day. Reviewed by John H. Manhold, award winning
To all these kind
*No, they are not all 5 star.
Singing Her Alive begins when the death of the main character’s grandmother takes a modern city
dwelling woman, named Sarah, back to her roots. When Sarah returns home to help her mother
clear out her grandmother’s belongings, she finds herself feeling connected to the old homestead.
Her interest is peaked when she discovers the diaries of both her grandmother Rebecca and her
lifelong friend “Aunt” Doris.
Taking her back in time to the late 1800s, Sarah reads about how Doris and Rebecca met. Sharing a
bed in a room in a boarding house while they both worked in a textile mill started their friendship.
As their relationship blossomed, they encountered many complications and obstacles from others,
who couldn’t accept that they were becoming more than just friends. When a crisis forces them to
look elsewhere for a fresh start, Sarah’s future grandfather helps them with this goal.
As Sarah reads these journals, she finds herself feeling pulled further and further away from her life
in Boston. Through her readings, Sarah is able to go back in time and see how life was for these
two women. As she sees how they discover each other, she also begins learning more about
herself. Her personal life becomes more involved in this little town. Family secrets that are revealed
in the diaries also greatly complicate things. Sarah has to figure out how she is to handle what
information has been revealed to her, because it will still have a tremendous impact on those she
cares about. As she works through this dilemma, she also is growing closer to her mother and has
made some special friendships with two local people.
Singing Her Alive has two love stories. One is from the past, and the other is developing in the
present. Both involve difficulties, yet the people involved reveal themselves to be incredible
characters who are worth fighting for. Written as a fictional memoir, the author made it hard for me
to believe that it didn’t really happen. Including a great deal of true historical information really
helped with this. She peaked my interest so much, I found myself looking through a website that is
included as a reference. I highly recommend reading this novel.
Reviewed by Anne B. for Readers Favorite
The setting for parts of Singing Her Alive by Diana K. Perkins is Willimantic, Connecticut, during
the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Our tale spans three generations. Sarah returned from Boston to
Willimantic to bury her grandmother and assist her mother in cleaning out the house for placing it
on the market. While packing the contents of a room Sarah discovered the journals of her
grandmother, Rebecca, and her friend Doris. Unable to resist temptation and curiosity, Sarah began
to read their deepest thoughts. Her grandmother had a secret that she took to the grave. From the
moment Sarah saw the old home she was drawn to the place and made the decision to stay. She
stayed for several reasons including sentiments, employment, and possibly romance.
Diana K. Perkins offers readers a look at the life of women in the late 1800s. The culture, especially
for women, was quite different in that era. Mark Twain referred to the era as the Gilded Age. I am
not sure most women would agree with that description. Women had few rights at that time. For
the most part they were considered owned property. Females were considered weak and frail. The
word gay meant happy or festive. However, Rebecca marched to her own drummer and refused to
be kept in a velvet lined box. Singing Her Alive has a unique plot that fits well in historical culture,
women's fiction or chic literature. Perkins includes a thread on lesbianism in this tale. She does that
in a very tasteful manner. It was interesting to watch the relationship between Rebecca and Doris
develop. This tale moves in a slow and easy manner. Singing Her Alive is an easy read. I suggest
curling up with this book on a cold winter day.