Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton

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Synopsis

A great adventure.

A haunting tragedy.

An enduring love.

In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed to California on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives out West. Everything that could go wrong did, and an American legend was born.

The Donner Party. We think we know their story--pioneers trapped in the mountains performing an unspeakable act to survive--but we know only that one harrowing part of it. Impatient with Desire brings us answers to the unanswerable question: What really happened in the four months the Donners were trapped in the mountains And it brings to stunning life a woman--and a love story--behind the myth.

Tamsen Eustis Donner, born in 1801, taught school, wrote poetry, painted, botanized, and was fluent in French. At twenty-three, she sailed alone from Massachusetts to North Carolina when respectable women didn't travel alone. Years after losing her first husband, Tully, she married again for love, this time to George Donner, a prosperous farmer, and in 1846, they set out for California with their five youngest children. Unlike many women who embarked reluctantly on the Oregon Trail, Tamsen was eager to go. Later, trapped in the mountains by early snows, she had plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of her decision and the cost of her wanderlust.

Historians have long known that Tamsen kept a journal, though it was never found. In Impatient with Desire, Burton draws on years of historical research to vividly imagine this lost journal--and paints a picture of a remarkable heroine in an extraordinary situation. Tamsen's unforgettable journey takes us from the cornfields of Illinois to the dusty Oregon Trail to the freezing Sierra Nevada Mountains, where she was forced to confront an impossible choice.

Impatient with Desire is a passionate, heart-wrenching story of courage, hope, and love in hardship, all told at a breathless pace. Intimate in tone and epic in scope, Impatient with Desire is absolutely hypnotic.

Praise for Impatient with Desire

"Gabrielle Burton brings us a moving story of human courage and frailty. Tamsen Donner's tale will stay with you long after you've read the last page."
--Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank

"Few figures in the westward movement of this country have the almost mythic presence of Tamsen Donner. With her strong creative gifts, an exceptional talent for clear and moving narrative, and careful research, Burton has most surely succeeded in her intention to capture Tamsen Donner's spirit and has given us a marvelous, moving story of a brave, loving--and real--woman."
--Isabel Zuber, author of Salt

"Told through fictional letters and diary entries written by Tamsen Donner, Impatient with Desire is a hauntingly lyrical story of the ill-fated Donner Party, one of the seminal events in America's westward movement. This bittersweet novel of love and sacrifice will tear at your heart."
--Sandra Dallas, author of Prayers for Sale

 

About Gabrielle Burton

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Gabrielle Burton is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter whose numerous projects include her first novel, HEARTBREAK HOTEL, which won Scribner's 1985 Maxwell Perkins Prize for exceptional writing. Her writing has appeared in publications such as the Washington Post, and the New York Times. She lives in Venice, California.
 
Published March 9, 2010 by Voice. 256 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Impatient with Desire

Deseret News

And Burton does it from the direct viewpoint of Tamsen Donner, the wife of George Donner, the party's leader.

Mar 14 2010 | Read Full Review of Impatient with Desire

Bookmarks Magazine

With her strong creative gifts, an exceptional talent for clear and moving narrative, and careful research, Burton has most surely succeeded in her intention to capture Tamsen Donner's spirit and has given us a marvelous, moving story of a brave, loving--and real--woman."
--Isabel Zuber, autho...

Mar 15 2010 | Read Full Review of Impatient with Desire

Reader Rating for Impatient with Desire
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