Tuesday, May 15, 2012

True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

True Sisters explores the lives of four women who, in 1856 as members of the Mormon church, make the arduous 1,300-mile trek from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, pushing handcarts all the way.  One of the women is Nannie Macintosh, travelling with her sister Ella and brother-in-law Andrew.  Nannie is upset to discover that, Levi, the man who broke their engagement, is on the journey with his wife, Patricia.  Anne Sully is pregnant, is not a Mormon and has not made the venture of her own free will.  Her husband, John, sold the successful clothing store her father left them in order to go to Salt Lake City.   Louisa Tanner's husband Thales is a captain, responsible for a hundred people along the way.  However, he starts to let his power go to his head.  Lastly, Jessie Cooper is making the trip with her brothers, Ephraim and Sutter.  Among the women's problems is the fact that the journey leaves late--meaning they'll be travelling in winter weather with carts made of inferior green wood. The travelers are also hindered by food shortages and the number of personal items that they have to purge regularly from their carts along the way.  True Sisters is based on the true story of the Martin Handcart Company, of whom over 135 died--making it "single greatest tragedy in the history of American's westward expansion."  In Dallas' deft hands, she humanizes the women and makes the journey come alive for the reader.

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