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True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

True Sisters

by Sandra Dallas

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1791466,229 (3.58)20
  1. 00
    The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Deals with polygamy among Mormons both originally and in the contemporary world.

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I'll be nice and give it 2.5 stars but truly, not a book for me.

It's historical fiction regarding the journey of recently converted Mormons to the Zion. They travel to the US and walk from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, pushing handcarts of their limited possessions through the heat of the prairies and the snow of the mountains. I believe the author's intension was to have a novel showing the strengths of the women in the story but truly, all the negativity within the story overshadowed it. I am not Mormon (and neither is the author) but throughout the book, I found it to be quite insulting to their faith. Granted, the novel takes place during the early years of the religion where there were many issues with it such as polygamy, but I didn't feel any of the positives of the religion were represented and I'm sure there were some even back then. After all, the religion did survive and is quite a strong faith.

The other issue I found was that it seemed repetitive at times. It needed the storylines to vary a little more or just cut some of it out. ( )
  lynnski723 | Dec 31, 2016 |
Sandra Dallas writes stories that feature woman’s history and that history often occurs in the American West. In True Sisters she tells of the Mormons and her focus in on the incredible handcart treks that crossed the American plains and mountains in 1856. The last group, the Martin Company left Iowa City in late July and encountered terrible weather conditions and hardships, of the 575 people on this trek somewhere between 135 to 170 perished.

In this novel the individual stories of some of the women on that trek are told and she brings to life both the women and the ordeal that they faced. Although the author drew on first hand accounts, her characters are fictional but she certainly is able to describe and make sense of their religion, their hopes, fears and some of the controversy that surrounded this event. Although most of these women were new converts to the religion and did not agree with the idea of plural marriages, it often made more sense to them once they had experienced the severity of carving a life out of this difficult environment and learning that sometimes the comfort and friendship of other women could make life easier. I thought the author dealt quite fairly with this issue, showing both the good and the ugly side of plurality.

I found True Sisters a fascinating and moving story as these people struggled to survive and reach a place where they hoped to have a new life of religious freedom and prosperity. ( )
1 vote DeltaQueen50 | Aug 14, 2016 |
This fictional novel is based on the true story of the Martin Handcart company that left Iowa City in July of 1856 with a group of Mormons headed for Salt Lake City, or Zion as they referred to it. They had been promised sturdy carts on which to transport their goods but there were none and the men were forced to build their own from unseasoned wood which did not hold up well during the difficult travel. There were also to have been supply points along the way where the people could get fresh food and clothing; there were none. As the travelers became weary during their 1300 mile walk many sickened and died. When heavy snows hit the group during October, deaths were numerous from exposure, starvation and illness. Dallas' story focuses on several women in the group and the heartache and struggles they faced in their 5 month journey.

I am a fan of Sandra Dallas but this book is, by far, the most depressing book I have ever read. I realize that this is a historical fact that this group of Mormons suffered immeasurable tragedies during this push to their new home in Utah. This book is unrelenting in its death, sadness, misery and downright horror. It was only saved from a 1 star, for me, by the ending which was satisfying for those who survived. I truly don't recommend this book to anyone.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
From the book jacket In 1856, Mormon converts, encouraged by Brigham Young himself, and outfitted with two-wheeled handcarts, set out on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, the promised land. The Martin Handcart Company … is the last (of five groups) to leave on this 1,300-mile journey. Earlier companies arrive successfully in Salt Lake City, but for the Martin Company the trip proves disastrous.

My reactions
Based on a true episode in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Dallas’s novel focuses on four fictional women and their families as they make the arduous trip toward salvation. Louisa is married to one of the most zealous and influential prophets and she firmly believes he speaks for God. Jessie and her two brothers plan to found a successful farm in the fertile valley they envision. Nannie is making the trek with her sister and brother-in-law, after having been abandoned on her wedding day. Anne hasn’t converted to Mormonism but has no choice but to follow her husband since he has sold the thriving business her father left them to fund the trip to Utah.

The story is told in alternating vignettes, keeping the reader informed about each of these women and how they fare on the journey. I knew about the handcart expeditions but the focus of this novel makes for a very personalized history lesson on this episode in the setting of the American West. It also makes for a fast and compelling read. I did have a little trouble with the dialect and period phrases at times, but I could figure out from context what was meant.

Dallas excels at painting the landscape of this journey across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. The reader feels the oppressive heat of late August, the gloriously crisp days of autumn, the cold and damp of trudging through a series of rainy days, the bitter sting of sleet, and the unending cold of a November blizzard. What I particularly liked about the novel, however, were the women themselves. Not just the main four characters, but several other women they encountered in their travels showed themselves to be strong, resilient, intelligent, resourceful, opinionated, clever, skilled, compassionate, helpful, determined and good judges of character. Yes, there were vain, whiny, weak women (and men) in the group as well, but the strong women shone. They were nothing short of incredible. And while Dallas chose to use totally fictional characters, the reader is wise to remember that there were hundreds of real men and women who made similar journeys, including the 625 souls who actually set out with the Martin Company.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Fascinating and horrific story based on the true story of the Mormon settlers who walked 1300 miles from Iowa City to Salt Lake City in the 1850s, using handcarts to haul all their possessions. THe Martin company was the last group to do this in 1856 and their trip was disastrous. The narrative focuses on some of the women, and rotates from one to another. While I did not find the voices of the individual women distinct enough, the story was utterly absorbing and heartbreaking. ( )
  vnesting | Oct 26, 2014 |
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1856. Mormon converts Nannie, Louisa, Jessie, and Anne, all from the British Isles, travel in the Martin Handcart Company, making the 1,300-mile journey on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, while enduring unimaginable hardships. Each woman will test the boundaries of her faith and learn the true meaning of survival and friendship along the way.… (more)

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