Monday, August 20, 2012
Book Review ~ "True Sisters"
In 1856, Nannie and her beloved sister and brother in law, Jessie and her two brothers, Anne and her family, and Louisa and her family, join others from England and make the trip to the U.S as Mormon converts headed to "Zion". Louisa is married to a church leader and missionary who did much of the preaching in England and while many find her husband overbearing she believes he speaks for God. Nannie, from Scotland, was abandoned on her wedding day and is horrified to find that her former fiance is travelling in the same Company with his new wife. Her sister is worried that this ex fiance will want Nannie to be a second wife, which is an unwanted situation in the eyes of both women. Jessie and her brothers have dreams of farming in "Zion", dreams that made selling everything they had seem worth the risk. Anne has not yet converted to Mormonism, but feels forced to come along as her husband sold everything including their very successful tailoring business and she has nothing left. Fearing he'd take the children without her, she joins him on the trek. Being promised by Brigham Young that they would have wagons and guides, they get to Iowa City only to find that they have no wagons and no wood and must instead build two-wheeled handcarts from greenwood that they will push and pull. Being forced to downsize their already meager belongs, they set off on a 1300 mile journey on foot. Their company, the Martin Handcart Company, is the last to leave. With great hope of joining other companies already successfully arrived in Salt Lake City, they have no idea of the hardships and devastation that await them. Or of the strong bond of friendship that this hardship will cement between them.
Based on the true story of the actual trip of the Martin handcart company, this story was typical of the author's amazing story telling ability. The rich characters she painted and the all too human weaknesses made this a moving story from beginning to end. The author is not Mormon but wanted to tell the story of what the women went through and how the bonds of friendship helped to see them through struggle, bone weariness, overwhelming heat and cold, starvation, tragedy and death. My heart was gripped through the whole story at what they were going through and every emotion was pulled out of me. It's hard to believe that the foundation of this story is true and decisions made on the behalf of hundreds of trusting people put their lives and their family's lives on the the line. Though it is a story of Mormon history the author makes just enough references to aspects of their religion to bring knowledge of what was going on at the time and decisions made and reasoning for them and not as a story meant to convince you to convert. It's a heart moving and heart wrenching story built around the character's of these four women and their families. At the very end, the author tells what eventually happened in the lives of these women after they reached Salt Lake City, but I'm still trying to decided if it was just a wrap up to the fictional characters or if these women were really historical figures.