Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review: Impatient with Desire



Impatient with Desire
Author: Gabrielle Burton
Publisher: Voice/Hyperion
ISBN: 9781401341015
Release date: March 2010
Audience: Teens through Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (from Amazon.com):

In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed to California on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives out West. Everything that could go wrong did, and an American legend was born.

The Donner Party. We think we know their story--pioneers trapped in the mountains performing an unspeakable act to survive--but we know only that one harrowing part of it. Impatient with Desire brings us answers to the unanswerable question: What really happened in the four months the Donners were trapped in the mountains? And it brings to stunning life a woman--and a love story--behind the myth.

Tamsen Eustis Donner, born in 1801, taught school, wrote poetry, painted, botanized, and was fluent in French. At twenty-three, she sailed alone from Massachusetts to North Carolina when respectable women didn't travel alone. Years after losing her first husband, Tully, she married again for love, this time to George Donner, a prosperous farmer, and in 1846, they set out for California with their five youngest children. Unlike many women who embarked reluctantly on the Oregon Trail, Tamsen was eager to go. Later, trapped in the mountains by early snows, she had plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of her decision and the cost of her wanderlust.

Historians have long known that Tamsen kept a journal, though it was never found. In Impatient with Desire, Burton draws on years of historical research to vividly imagine this lost journal--and paints a picture of a remarkable heroine in an extraordinary situation. Tamsen's unforgettable journey takes us from the cornfields of Illinois to the dusty Oregon Trail to the freezing Sierra Nevada Mountains, where she was forced to confront an impossible choice.

Impatient with Desire is a passionate, heart-wrenching story of courage, hope, and love in hardship, all told at a breathless pace. Intimate in tone and epic in scope, Impatient with Desire is absolutely hypnotic.


My comments:

I had never heard of the Donner Party nor knew anything about another way to travel west besides the Oregon Trail. So, when I sat down with this book, I had no expectations besides being entertained. I didn't expect Tamsen Donner to catch my heart and hold it through her journal entries and letters to her sister. My heart went out to the families and men that traveled in the party, and every time one died, I could feel the heartbreak and mounting concern that each one brought, as if I, too, was traveling with them. Tamsen was a strong and courageous voice that had such spirit and dignity, even in times when she felt her hope dwindling.

Gabrielle Burton gave Tamsen such a powerful voice. One, that I'm sure, captured the essence of who Tamsen was. I was impressed by how much research went into this novel, and how Gabrielle spent time on the same trail to get the feel of what it must have been like for the Donners. This was an amazing book and a fantastic piece of historical fiction that should be read by everyone. Impatient with Desire is a masterful piece of work that captures the pioneer spirit and brings to light the sacrifice, commitment and disappointments each adventurer had to endure. I look forward to reading more by this author!

If you would like to learn more about Gabrielle Burton and her other works, you can visit her page at: http://www.gabrielleburton.com/ She has just released a new book, "Searching for Tamsen Donner" which includes all 17 of Tamsen's known letters.

"Impatient with Desire" was an Early Reviewers win from Librarything.com and was received with a promise of a review.

2 comments:

  1. I've read about the Donner party and am a huge history fan. I wonder if it follows their whole story? Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never heard of the Donner party before either, but this book sounds like it really captures the era!

    ReplyDelete

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