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Impatient with Desire

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  547 ratings  ·  188 reviews
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 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--starving pioneers trapped in the
ebook, 266 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Hyperion (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,655)
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Feb 06, 2010 Theresa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I had never heard of the Donner Party nor knew anything about another way to travel west besides the Oregon Trail. So, when I sat down with this book, I had no expectations besides being entertained. I didn't expect Tamsen Donner to catch my heart and hold it through her journal entries and letters to her sister. My heart went out to the families and men that traveled in the party, and every time one died, I could feel the heartbreak and mounting concern that each one brought, as if I, too, was ...more
Jul 09, 2010 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: Tara
Thanks again to Tara, my friend who makes sure I never run out of good things to read.

“All that just to get here. All that grief and confusion and chicanery and betrayal and carelessness and death just to get us here to these dull, thudding, stuporous, barely noticeable deaths.”

“I am a school teacher doing life and death sums.”

Impatient with Desire is the fictionalized story of the very real and tragic Donner Party travels to reach California in 1846 and 1847. Written from the viewpoint of Tamse
Westward Ho!
Who wants to go to California without it costing them anything?
As many as eight young men of good character, who can drive an ox team, will be accommodated by gentlemen who will leave this vicinity about the first of April.
Come on, Boys. You can have as much land as you want without costing you anything. The Government of California gives large tracts of land to persons who move there.
~George Donner and Others~
(advert in the Sangamo Journal, 1946)

Oh, pioneers. The Donner Party was
This book covers the ill fated journey of the Donner Party in their quest for a new life in California. The narrator is Tamsen Donner, who documents the trip in a journal/letter written to her sister who stayed behind. While the Donners and their five daughters are the main focus, a lot of the story is about other members who joined and left the party for various reasons. Burton did a great deal of research on the historical facts, but the truth is that there is still a lot of mystery surroundin ...more
Originally posted on Guiltless Reading

Not a trashy romance. Really.

The book in one sentence: Tamsen Donner recounts the ill-fated journey of 80+ pioneers through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846.

My thoughts: I received Impatient with Desire yesterday in the mail through the LibraryThing Early Bird Reviewers, and I got just a bit of an eyeroll from the hubby when he saw the title of the book. I've sort of sworn off trashy romance novels - and this is what this book seemed to be about - an ill
Elevate Difference
Impatient with Desire is the story of Tamsen Donner, now-legendary westward pioneer. Tamsen was forty-five when she set out on the California-Oregon Trail with her husband and five children in the spring of 1846. Stranded by early snows, Tamsen and the other Donner Party pioneers spent a harrowing four months in the Sierra Nevadas without supplies. Tamsen sent her daughters out with relief parties and stayed behind with her wounded husband; she died sometime in April 1847, leaving only her lette ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Wow. What a tragic story. This novel is about the Donner party that left Illinois for California in 1846. Tamsen Donnor is the wife to the "captain" and it's thru her letters to her sister and her lapses into the past that readers live the tragedy of the trail again. Their problems don't stop at broken wheel axles and ornery oxen, rather more troubles arise from people not getting along than anything else. There is murder, abandonment, and a man named Hastings promising a short cut that turns ou ...more
Historical fiction novels are quite useful in their ability to introduce readers to topics they are unfamiliar with (and hopefully, this is done accurately). Admittedly, I don’t know much beyond the basics about the Donner Party; which is precisely why I turned to Gabrielle Burton’s “Impatient with Desire” for my lesson. Sadly, “Impatient with Desire” is not what I expected at all. Instead of an intimate, meaty novel surrounding the possible feelings and events involving the Donners; Burton inst ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Jackie says:

This book covers the ill fated journey of the Donner Party in their quest for a new life in California. The narrator is Tamsen Donner, who documents the trip in a journal/letter written to her sister who stayed behind. While the Donners and their five daughters are the main focus, a lot of the story is about other members who joined and left the party for various reasons. Burton did a great deal of research on the historical facts, but the truth is that there is still a lot of myster
Nabokov once said (and I paraphrase heavily) that a true reader is a re-reader, so my main rating system on here has been based primarily on the question: would I re-read this? The short answer for "Impatient with Desire" is a flat no. But the answer to the *perhaps* more important question, "Did this book inspire a burning desire--an impatient one, you might say--inside me to read anything and everything on the subject at hand?" is an emphatic YES!

Burton's curiosity about the Donners led her t
Gabrielle Burton’s “Impatient with Desire” details the ill-fated emigration of the Donner party in 1846. The novel unfolds though journal entries and letters written by Tamsen Donner and provides an intimate perspective to one of the most notorious and mythologized chapters in American history.

I have to give props to Burton for creating an interesting fictional narrative out of the little-known and often contradictory facts about the Donner party history. Tamsen is a fascinating character – a st
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kilian Metcalf
Your husband is dying. Your children are dying. You are dying. The rescue party has arrived, but your husband is too weak to leave. Do you stay with your husband and share his fate, or abandon him and leave with your children? This is the decision faced by Tamsen Donner, snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountains with the remnants of the ill-fated Donner Party. Written in the form of a collection of letters never mailed and journal entries, Impatient with Desire is a fictional exploration of the p ...more
Some historical events are haunting, even years later they can fuel questions of what if? And why? The fate of the Donner Party is one such haunting event. Almost everyone can remember hearing of the horrors the settlers experienced because the shocking details have been sensationalized, but what about all the other details of their experience? How did things get so drastically out of control? What was the rest of the journey like for the pioneer party that would forever live on in infamy? Autho ...more
I can't speak for this current generation, but I'm pretty sure most people born, I don't know, before 1990? at least have some idea of the Donner party. Granted it's usually referenced more in jokes than anything else, but there's some sort of vague knowledge. That being said, outside of the limited mentions of them in school, and then seeing the memorial (I think it's a memorial? There's something on I-80) on the way to Reno one time, I don't know much about the actual people involved.

This boo
kris hicar
Although written as fiction, the story of the tragic Donner Party leaves one thinking 'could I have done that?'.
The book is narrated by Tamsen Donner, wife of George Donner. The mother of 5 daughters, Tamsen keeps a journal while trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for 4 months. It is written in flashbacks. Seeing the past helps understand why they were on the journey from Illinois to California. The excitement of what laid ahead caused the original group of wagons to split, some heading sou
Leah Weisse
I read an advanced copy of this novel written from the point of view of Tamsen Donner, wife of the Captain of the Donner Party. It goes into more than just the story of the trek and the long winter in the mountains. It gives you a really good idea of life in mid-1800 America. Just make sure you eat before reading it!
"When we came here, we were all strangers to ourselves," says [this fictionalized version of] Tamsen Donner, who chronicled that notorious ill-fated trek West in 1846. She is right. And I hope I never know myself as well as she knew herself after those long months of squalid starvation in the Sierra Nevadas.
Wagons, ho! It’s 1846, and the East is awash in California fever. Tamsen Donner, her husband George and their five daughters form a wagon train with a number of other families, intent on heading west from Illinois. Disastrously, nearly everything that could go wrong does, and coupled with a handful of unwise decisions, the entire party of more than eighty people -- most under the age of 18 -- find themselves stranded without provisions in the Sierra Nevada mountains for the winter. Tamsen narrat ...more
Oct 17, 2014 Raina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone

I cannot tell you how this book had me so enthralled, that I couldn't put it down.

You are an excellent writer, and if I had not read your author's notes,
I would have thought that her diary had been somehow discovered after her death, and you were able to fulfill her dream that people would know of her trials and tribulations on her journey.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful writing with me, and I will pass this on to my co-workers so they may enjoy it also.

Keep up the good work and I
The 1840’s saw a massive migration to California by American pioneers, and none too notorious were a group of 87 individuals who became marooned in the Sierra Nevada by a blizzard. These people were known as the Donner Party and they became noted for their very taboo method of survival: cannibalism. The center of the party consisted of three families setting out from Springfield, Illinois in the spring of 1846. Their wagon train was later joined by other families when they met up with and branch ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: The Donner Party has always intrigued me, as it does so many others.

The majority of this book focuses on the The Donner Party's journey, told through the eyes of Tamsen Donner in a journal format and a collection of letters to her sister; eventually the letters stop and the journal begins to be written to the sister. The story starts as the pioneers are hunkered down for the winter in the mountains but does not run in a linear format. Tamsen goes back to the days of her and G
Andrea Dowd
Everyone likes a good survival story and everyone knows a little something about the Donner Party who trekked across the Great Plains, the Great Salt Lake, and through the snowy mountains of California, only to become an embarrassing and tragic story of cannibalism.

"Impatient with Desire" is based on true events, people, and actual letters that turned into a fictionalized diary/letter format. It works for the story because there has never been a fully-realized first-person account of the happeni
I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways courtesy of the author herself Gabrielle Burton!

Thank you Ms Burton!

I am looking forward to reading it over the weekend. Await my review by end of the week...

----------- REVIEW -----------

I give this book 2.5 Stars

The book is about a group of people looking for a better life in the other side of the border (so they say), the story is set in the 19th century where most of the characters are based on real people - the American pioneers particularly the
This was a very interesting book. I didn't know much about the Donner party, but was always curious about them. Buton handles this topic well - the book is a fictionalization of Tamsen Donner's journals. We know that she actually did keep one, but it's never been found.

The book seems to be historically very accurate, and Tamsen was an incredibly interesting, intelligent woman. Burton handles the awkward parts of the expedition graciously, and the book really held my attention.

This is a very uniq
While I had general knowledge about The Donner Party and what happened to them in the mountains in 1847, I really hadn't looked into the circumstances or read anything about them until this book. Although this book is a work of fiction, author Gabrielle Burton did an enormous amount of research into what little is known about what really happened to the Donner Party and she does an excellent job of weaving facts, rumors and fiction into a very believable and heart wrenching tale.

I loved the char
Upon finishing this book, I immediately went to Wikipedia to find out who actually survived in real life, and what actually happened. It's a fascinating story, though rife with disagreements upon what actually happened while trapped on the mountain (according to children survivors years later). A compelling read, to be sure.

"An early emigrant named Lansford W. Hastings had gone to California in 1842 and saw the promise of the undeveloped country. To entice settlers he published a guide for pione
Gabrielle Burton’s writing evokes the true passion behind the movement westward as well as the disappointment and utter feeling of loss of being trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for 4 months. We are allowed to look at the world from the perspective of Tamsen Donner through a fictional journal that she writes. Tamsen was known to have kept a journal, which has never been found, so this sets the book in a realistic setting. Not only do you learn about what the 87 travelers endured while bein ...more
How far would you go in order to survive?

*Full disclosure: I won an ARC of this novel from the author. I was not obligated to provide a review and all opinions expressed therein are my own.*

I have to say, that if I didn’t know otherwise, the immediate title of this book would imply it is some kind of chicklit or romantic novel. It isn’t by the way. This is actually historical fact written as fiction and is based on a part of American history that I know virtually nothing about, so I was keen to
I would not normally have chosen Impatient with Desire as a read. The cover is a bit prairie romance novel and the subject, the imagined journal of the wife of the leader of the Donner party, doesn't sound all that appetizing. I was invited to review this book by Rare Bird Lit and I am so very glad, otherwise I would've missed a great book.

Impatient with Desire is lots of things. It's epistolary. It's riveting. It's filled with dread and wonder and regret. It's a beautifully written impressionis
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Died September 3, 2015.

Gabrielle Burton, awarded an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, currently splits her time between her Buffalo home and Los Angeles, where she is involved with her daughters' Five Sisters Production Company. Burton is the author of Heartbreak Hotel as well as the nonfiction work I'm Running Away from Home, But I'm Not Allowed to Cross the Street: A Primer
More about Gabrielle Burton...
Searching for Tamsen Donner Heartbreak Hotel I'm Running Away from Home, but I'm Not Allowed to Cross the Street

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