Impatient With Desire

Impatient With Desire

A Novel

Book - 2010
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A great adventure.
A haunting tragedy.
"An enduring love."
In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed to California 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--starving 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 Sierra Nevadas 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 California-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.
Publisher: New York : Voice/Hyperion, 2010.
ISBN: 9781401341015
Characteristics: 247 p. :,map ;,22 cm.


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Jan 11, 2014

Wagons, ho! It's 1846, and the East is awash in California fever. Tamsen Donner, her husband George and their five daughters form a wagon train with a number of other families, intent on heading west from Illinois. Disastrously, nearly everything that could go wrong does, and coupled with a handful of unwise decisions, the entire party of more than eighty people -- most under the age of 18 -- find themselves stranded without provisions in the Sierra Nevada mountains for the winter. Tamsen narrates their plight, as well as flashbacks to earlier events in her life, through her journal entries.

The Donner Party. I'd heard of it, knew that it was a horrific event in pioneer history, but wasn't really familiar with the details. This is an intriguing read, though the experience is clouded by a sense of foreboding -- you know it is not going to end well. I was inspired afterward to learn more about the Donner expedition -- what was documented, and what was imagined by the author? Although events toward the end become painful to read, I recommend it to fans of historical fiction. The book is laden with an unfortunate title evocative of a steamy romance, so it could easily be missed by its potential audience.

Aug 06, 2010

So well-written and so heart-wrenching.

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