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True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

True Sisters (edition 2012)

by Sandra Dallas

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1471081,427 (3.65)10
Title:True Sisters
Authors:Sandra Dallas
Info:St. Martin's Press (2012), Edition: Book Club (BCE/BOMC), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

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    The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Deals with polygamy among Mormons both originally and in the contemporary world.

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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 |
I very much enjoyed this book. I learned lots about the Mormon faith and the trials faced by the early settlers of Utah. We spent part of our holiday last year in Utah but we went for the scenery not for the history so I didn't know much before reading this book.

One of the things I hadn't realized was how many of the early settlers came from England to move to Zion (as they called the region around Salt Lake City). This book follows four women from the British Isles who took part in the Martin Handcart Company. Nannie was a maid in a hotel in Edinburgh but lost her position when the owners found out she had converted to Mormonism. Louisa married one of the American missionaries that came to England to convert people and her entire family crossed to New York in order to emigrate to Zion. Jessie is travelling with her two brothers. They farmed in England and hope to find farms in Zion. Anne and her husband owned a prosperous tailoring shop in London. When missionaries came into the shop looking for thread to mend their suit Anne's husband was intrigued enough to go to church. He converted but Anne thought the Mormon doctrine was foolish. However, when her husband sold the shop and said they were moving to Salt Lake City Anne had to go with him because she had no way of surviving in London.

All of these women and 621 more left Iowa City on July 28, 1856 in the Martin Handcart Company. The handcarts were made of unseasoned wood and thus prone to breakdown. Due to the small size of the carts each adult was required to limit their possessions to only seventeen pounds. The emigrants were promised that there would be supplies provided by the Mormon Church along the way but this promise, like others, proved to be false. These people had to travel 1300 miles to Salt Lake City under their own steam with barely enough food to keep themselves alive. Add to that the cold weather, snow, sickness and injury and the journey seems like the worst sort of nightmare.

I can't imagine making a journey like this but Dallas does an excellent job of portraying the difficulties and also the small mercies. I am amazed that anyone made it through. Dallas says in the Acknowledgments section that between 135 and 170 people in this company perished on the journey. Apparently there were more deaths among the men than among the women giving lie to the saying that women are the weaker sex.

This was a fascinating book and I heartily recommend it. I have a copy of The Gathering of Zion by Wallace Stegner which Dallas refers to as one of her sources. I'll have to move it up the pile. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 14, 2012 |
Sandra Dallas' latest book is about the Martin Handcart Company's migration west to Salt Lake City in 1856. Mormon converts emigrated from the British Isles and other European countries, but couldn't afford the approximately $300 cost to outfit a wagon, so they used handcarts instead. While they couldn't carry as much as emigrants in wagon trains, they could move faster. The Martin Company didn't leave Iowa until July with carts made of unseasoned wood. Companies that had gone before them arrived successfully in Salt Lake, but the Martin Company, slowed by the breakdown-prone carts, encountered flooded rivers, cold and ultimately snow. Over one quarter of the company perished along the way.

I'm disappointed, because I expected to love this book and I didn't. A historical novel about westward migration with strong female characters? Should have been a slam dunk. Unfortunately, the book never really came alive for me. Seems like there were too many characters to develop any of them well. There are also some stretches that read more like non-fiction than fiction. ( )
  4fish | May 30, 2012 |
I really wanted to like this story more than I did. The historical aspect of it intrigued me quite a bit. I had no idea that Mormons walked to Utah during this time of Westward expansion to settle in their land of Zion. Most of the characters in this story have arrived from Europe, many unprepared for the conditions that face them as they leave Iowa City 3 weeks late. The four main women, although sisters in faith, never really gel as any sort of cohesive unit in the story. The storyline strictly goes from one to another, hardship to hardship as they make their pilgrimage. Tallgrass still remains my favorite Sandra Dallas title. ( )
  ethel55 | May 16, 2012 |
I have always enjoyed reading Sandra Dallas, and this was no exception. Dallas presents a fictional account of the 1856 trek of a group of Mormons from Iowa City to Utah. I was amazed to learn that instead of using covered wagons, the group used handcarts because the price was more affordable. The group walked over 1300 miles pulling and pushing these poorly made carts. A few covered wagons accompanied the group to serve as a shelter for extra food and aid for the sick. Many of the women were pregnant and had babies en route to Utah. The group left late in the summer and encountered winter conditions before reaching the destination. An amazing story about determination. ( )
  delphimo | May 15, 2012 |
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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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