Alternate histories & imagined lives of historical persons seem the norm on our bookshelves these days. Impatient with Desire relates the story of the Donner Party emigration as they endure the legendary mountain snows of the winter of 1846-1847. Told through diary entries, letters to family back East, Bible entries, and other "documents," Tamsen Donner reveals the hopes that began the journey for 87 travelers and the tragedy that ended it with only 43. Although several rescue attempts were made, survivors had to walk out on their own with no baggage sleds or animals. Consequently, only persons with some stamina left could be rescued; the rest were left behind in their winter camp with minimal supplies. On every side the Donner Party had to make frightening decisions. Almost as compellingly written is the author's note & bibliography in which Burton tells us that her life had inexplicably become involved with Tamsen's while she researched the book. Although the story could have dwelled on the horrific, Burton instead brings out the individual heroism of each pilgrim.
Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library