Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton

Publisher: Voice 
Pages: 241 
Source: Publisher

During the 1840's there was a massive immigration of American pioneers to California. Tamsen Donner and her husband George had that dream. They planned to uproot their lives and begin a new life in sunny California. In the spring of 1846, the Donner family and eighty other pioneers began to travel to California full of optimism and excitement. Unfortunately, due to a massive blizzard the Donner party became entrapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains for four months with barely any supplies. "Impatient with Desire" is a historical fiction novel written through journal entries and letters in the voice of Tamsen Donner. This is a story of courage, hope, guilt and sacrifice. Humans will do unspeakable things to survive. Hunger pains will make people greedy. The Donner party were speculated to have been forced into cannibalism during the desperate times. While Tamsen records the many deaths in her bible, we learn that of the 87 people who traveled with them only 46 survived. Tamsen's voice throughout the story varies. Some days she is full of hope and faith while other days she questions if they will survive. As her husband begins failing, she questions if he will survive. She questions if they all will survive. This is a heart breaking a tale. 

The Tamsen Donner story was completely new to me. I had never heard of this story before. A good historical novel always leaves me researching. "Impatient with Desire" sent me on a search to learn more about this heartbreaking story. While many of there stories are speculation, many of them seem plausible. Tamsen's story is a story of a strong, courageous woman. A woman, who wanted more for herself. However, she endured more than anyone could imagine. Her aspirations for adventure left her family suffering, and her emotions run rampant in this book. Both her and her husband blame themselves, and want nothing but to survive. This is a heavy, emotional read. I highly recommend this one. It was very different, and worth the read.


  1. I've read about the Donner story so I'm interested in this book. I'm glad it's worth the read. Adding it to my list.

  2. I have read about the Donner party, but this sounds like a particularly interesting angle. Thanks for the review!

  3. I once read a book in high school about the Donner party, but it sounds like this book would provide a different and really interesting perspective. I need to read this one when I can. It sounds excellent!

  4. This is one of those I've really been wanting to read. It just sounds so fascinating!

  5. I'd never heard of the Donner party until I started seeing reviews of this book. What a fascinating story.