Wednesday, April 25, 2012
True Sisters by Sandra Dallas
In 1856, a group of Mormon converts, emigrants from England and Scotland, set out on a difficult trek to Salt Lake City. The Martin Handcart Company was the fifth group to make the trip from Iowa City to their Zion, the fifth to endeavor to make the trip using two-wheeled handcarts, as ordered by Brigham Young himself. Three of the companies made the trip with few difficulties. The fourth, the Willie Company, encountered snow and lost sixty-seven people. And, then there was the Martin Company, the company that left even later, the company that saw the greatest loss of life, "the single greatest tragedy in the history of America's westward expansion."
True Sisters is the powerful story of the women who set out to walk to Salt Lake City, thirteen hundred miles across prairies and mountains, in heat and then snow. Sisters Nannie Macintosh and Ella Buck traveled with Ella's husband after Nannie's husband-to-be dumped her on the day of her wedding, sending a letter saying he was marrying someone else. Anne Sully was a reluctant participant in the trek. When her husband converted, he sold their business and threatened to take the children if she didn't accompany him. A pregnant Anne refused to convert, but she set out with her two children. Louisa Tanner was proud to be the wife of Thales Tanner, the missionary who converted her whole family. And, everyone in Louisa's family traveled with Thales, a captain on the trip with 100 people in his group. Jessie Cooper refused to marry Thales, but she and her two brothers, three strong young people, were converts who wanted to start a new farm in the promised land. This is the story of women who made the journey, a journey that didn't turn out to be what they had been promised.
True Sisters isn't a happy story. But, it's a powerful story of strong women, women who found the way to go on through loss, starvation, and tragedy. Dallas brings a group of women to life on these pages. In doing so, she brings the story of the Martin Handcart Company to life in a way that nonfiction seldom does. She puts faces on this tragic expedition. True Sisters is a story you'll never forget. It's one more memorable book from a gifted storyteller.
Sandra Dallas website is www.sandradallas.com
True Sisters by Sandra Dallas. St. Martin's Press. 2012. ISBN 9781250005021 (hardcover), 341p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book from the publisher so I could read it.