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True Sisters

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  4,369 ratings  ·  829 reviews

In a novel based on true events, New York Times bestselling author Sandra Dallas delivers the story of four women---seeking the promise of salvation and prosperity in a new land---who come together on a harrowing journey.

In 1856, Mormon converts, encouraged by Brigham Young himself, and outfitted with two-wheeled handcarts, set out on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City

Hardcover, 341 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by St. Martin's Press (first published April 1st 2012)
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Linda I did not enjoy this book. I realize that the hardship endured was nearly beyond comprehension. Add the fact that anyone survived in the Martin handca…moreI did not enjoy this book. I realize that the hardship endured was nearly beyond comprehension. Add the fact that anyone survived in the Martin handcart journey, was almost a miracle.

But it felt repetitive, and describing the same types of suffering over and over was mind numbing. Also, the author repeated certain facts about the people over and over, which became boring. The book could have been 50 pages shorter and the same plot line remain. And then sadly, after pages and pages of hardship, the ending was much too short and disappointing. After following all of the women and their situations, 2 or 3 sentences for each lady summarized their life in Zion afterward. (less)

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Ann Lewis
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
So last night I finished reading True Sisters by Sandra Dallas. I like Sandra Dallas. I’ve met her personally in Houston at the International Quilt Festival. I’ve enjoyed her books. Fun reads, many have quilt stories in them like the Persian Pickle Club and Alice’s Tulips. When I heard she’d written a book about the Martin Handcart Company, I immediately ordered it. Hardback, full price, well, price. I was excited to read it. I inserted it into my list of books I must read now pile, r ...more
What a fascinating book about a little known event in American History. In 1856 LDS converts in the British Isles left their homes to move to SLC, Utah. Most of them were hard pressed, factory workers in poor health looking for a better life.

They journeyed across the ocean and travelled by train to Iowa City where the final push of their journey commenced. They were provided with 2 wheeled hand carts to travel overland 1,500 miles to Utah and the promised land. Unfortunately those hand carts wer
Lori Bond
Jun 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
I had a very hard time reading this book. It was well written as far as a fictional novel goes I suppose. I struggled with the authors point of view on the LDS pioneer women who made the trek across the west to Zion. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints this is not a correct view of the sisters who made this journey. My spirit felt offended for them. I have read journal accounts for one of the families she depicts in her book. The sister laid next to her husband who had ...more
Aug 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-of-2013
You've got to hand it her, really. It is a tricky subject and to take on something like this is pretty daring, I thought. As someone who was just on this very trail, last summer, I thought I would be super critical of this book. I think she did an admirable job. She tried to explain their suffering as well as their faith.

I learned something: On page 280 I thought I found a typo. It says, "Louisa tried to courtesy, but her wet skirts threw her off." I figured this was wrong, but in the dictionar
Linda Hart
May 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Hugely disappointing. Boring. Degrading. I concur with what one reader said: "historical inaccuracies, and the obvious bias against Mormons in the name of creating a novel. The author ignored all of the uplifting, miraculous moments on the disastrous Martin Handcart trek in favor of a predictable (and historically inaccurate) polygamy plot. She chose to dwell on the heart-breaking moments of the trek, adding some very unlikable characters as the leaders, creating an over-all depressing book." ...more
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Being a Mormon I am well aquatinted with the pioneer parts of church history. I found myself comparing this book to Gerald Lund's book, The Fire and the Covenant. Both books are excellent, and evoke an array of emotions within me. I cry while reading about the horrific conditions these early saints endured, and I feel guilty for snuggling in my warm bed, while my food cooks in the oven. I enjoyed the story of these women (and their families), and how their lives intertwine. I am impressed that ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Hmmm. I am still processing how I feel about this book. My negative thoughts are-the women were portrayed without animation. Just flat faced, opressed women with the inability to think for themselves. The men were portrayed as overbearing, unkind, pompous "leaders" of their families. I realize that men were more domineering in those times, and women more submissive; but this was excessive,and possibly demeaning,to these people who suffered so much for their beliefs. I was also surprised at some ...more
I think we all know about the westward migration via wagon train, but how many of you have heard of the Mormon Handcart pioneers? Converts to the Mormon faith were *encouraged* to make the 1,300 mile trek west to Zion on foot with handcarts the were pushed/pulled. Those handcarts couldn't carry a very much in the way of supplies, but they had been promised there would be supply stations along the way...


True Sisters is based on the Martin Handcart Company, the last group to make the trek i
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite authors, and she happens to be a local author here in Denver. This is based on a true event of the trek of Mormons across the country to Salt Lake. I loved her description of the characters and the experiences they had along the way, which really helped the reader feel for what was happening to them. The tragedy of what happened to the Donner Party was doubled for this group. I would definitely recommend this if this subject appeals to you.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, well researched book. One that lines up with my maternal family history with my Mormon ancestors as recent as grandparents. In fact, Sandra Dallas was gentle and kind in her depiction and skimmed over the harsher aspects.
Well done, as always!!!
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I found this book disappointing. What is billed as a story about the Martin handcart company turned into an anti polygamy rant and a put down of Mormon men, especially those in leadership positions. The plot is disjointed and told from so many points of view it lacks cohesiveness. There is no sense of sisterhood except between the two biological sisters. Contact between the other women is fleeting. At times the writing is brilliant; other times it wanders so much it loses any real impact. As a d ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
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Suzie Fullmer
May 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
I have read several books by Sandra Dallas and have loved each one. She is a gifted writer who focuses on women living in the West. They are beautiful stories with a poignant moral woven within each narration. My favorite is still Prayers for Sale.

That's why it pains me to say that I hated this book. The author's obvious negative views toward mormonism took the center stage of this novel. She was not able to keep her own anti-mormon views in check. Between her failure to write complex, interesti
Georgia Herod
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Based on true events related to the Martin Handcart Company, the last of the handcart groups to make the crossing from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, under the encouragement of Brigham Young, Dallas presents the venture through an omniscient narrator who focuses on the lives of four women—who are seeking the promise of salvation and prosperity in a new land. It turns out to be a most harrowing journey, with disease, deprivation, discouragement and despair, as well as death being their companions w ...more
Christine Rebbert
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't know what made me pick up this book from the "New Fiction" section at the library -- after all, the spine just has the title and a little tiny picture of what appear to be Pioneers -- but am very glad I did! These are not just any pioneers, but the Martin Handcart Company of 1856, making their way across 1300 miles from Iowa City to the Great Salt Lake to share Zion with their Mormon sisters and brothers. I have done other reading about the Handcart treks, both fiction and non- -- Wallac ...more
Dara S.
I thought this was very interesting historical fiction. I knew nothing of the handcart expedition to Utah.
Book Concierge
From the book jacket In 1856, Mormon converts, encouraged by Brigham Young himself, and outfitted with two-wheeled handcarts, set out on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, the promised land. The Martin Handcart Company … is the last (of five groups) to leave on this 1,300-mile journey. Earlier companies arrive successfully in Salt Lake City, but for the Martin Company the trip proves disastrous.

My reactions
Based on a true episode in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Sai
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, favorites
True Sisters by Sandra Dallas If you love a historical novel that expresses the true spirit of the pioneer woman, with an underlying theme of unconditional faith, you will love this novel. Hardships are faced with often emotional results, so expect to be moved by these women's stories as they travel thirteen hundred miles by foot with their families to their Promised Land.

I've read many historical novels over the years, but I have never experienced one so well suited to the American pioneer woman's struggles. This book c
Beth Sponzilli
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 19th-century, pioneer
Another great book by Sandra Dallas. This is a story of Mormon pioneers traveling from England to New York, then NY to Iowa by train. The rest of the way to Utah (Zion) was by walking and pushing handcarts for months. It is similar to the Donner Party on the Oregon trail yet this journey had more people and more deaths along the way. The women were the heroes in this story and their connections with each other held them together. A great story!
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction novel is set in 1856 when Mormon converts from Scotland and England risk their lives to walk 1,300-miles from Iowa City to Zion, the promised land of Salt Lake City pushing handcarts with few supplies, little food, and in a horrible snowstorm, even fording dangerous ice cold rivers. They try to keep their faith and their spirits up but very few survive. This book focuses on four very different women who make this journey.

The book discloses that promises were made that we
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sandra Dallas is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. I was surprised and a little nervous to see that she had a new book based on the Martin Handcart company. I had never read a book about this historical event that wasn't written by a Mormon. I was impressed that most of her information was historically correct. I have to say that I did not like the way she made the leaders and the men in general to be only interested in taking a polygamous wife. Polygamy was a part of life for the e ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Sandra Dallas at 'her absolute best', as described on the jacket of True Sisters, is a SHAM. She has done her homework and knows the trek, but obviously has a bone to pick with men and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She demeans the church and the priesthood, and distorts testimony, polygamy, and Mormon women.

If you're looking for a 'hate Mormons' novel, read True Sisters. Look elsewhere if you want an accurate portrayal of the disastrous trek taken by the Martin Handcart Co. I'
Apr 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
I could only make it 40 pages into the book before I couldn't take anymore, though I really wanted to quit after 5 pages. It had such a negative overtone and the characters were not believable at all. All of the men in the book had major character flaws and none of the women did. If someone wanted to learn more about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies, I would definitely recommend Gerald Lund's book Fire of the Covenant, which was a FABULOUS book. ...more
Kami Reeve
May 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
I have read several previous Sandra Dallas books and have enjoyed them. I am very familiar with the history of the handcart pioneers. I've read several journal accounts. I was hoping this would be faith inspiring, like the journals I have read. It was not. It whined about polygamy. It whined about the leadership of the church. Many accounts talk of the priviledge to get to know God in their trials. I found none of that in this fictional account. Too bad. I feel the author did a disservice to the ...more
What a bill of goods these people were sold! It is infuriating in a way, but it also leaves you thinking that maybe they got what they deserved? But, not quite.

This is the story of people who emigrated from Europe--England and Ireland mostly--to Utah to join the Mormon church. They were told by the young, earnest, attractive men who came to convert them of a path that would be smooth, paved with the goodness and generosity of the church and by Brigham Young and while I do not want to give too mu
Marion Malsbury
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was looking for a book and came across this one at a local thrift shop. I hadn't any experience with the author to be honest and wasn't super excited about it.
I was surprisingly captivated almost immediately with the historical fiction story of Mormons who came from the UK to America in 1850's and headed out in handmade carts for Utah, 1300 miles and four months ahead of them. Several of the women were not even all that keen on coming but had been persuaded by missionaries or husbands.
The sto
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it

Sandra Dallas is a wonderful storyteller and I am happy that I have found her work as an author. I will definitely look into her other work and I am sure I will enjoy her fictional novels, such as I did this one. She is gifted at creating characters and getting you to emotionally invest in their well being and futures.

As a fifth generation direct descendant of six sets of great great grandparents (between my mother and father) that crossed the plains as Mormon pioneers, I have always had a deep
Jessica McCann
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another fabulous novel by Sandra Dallas, though a bit darker than her others (even those such as TALLGRASS and WHITER THAN SNOW, which also deal with tragic events). TRUE SISTERS is based on the real-life events surrounding the Mormon converts who were in the last group to walk the harrowing 1,300-mile journey across America to settle in the Salt Lake Valley during the mid-1850s. I know very little about Mormon history, so this story introduced me to something new. The acknowledgements at the en ...more
Keilani Ludlow
Dec 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Better than I expected. Any time someone takes on religious history - when they are not of that belief - then something will always be misunderstood, misrepresented, left out, etc. Since my religion is one that is really hammered and derided by people who apparently have nothing better to do with their life than cut down others, I have come to expect that I will not often enjoy our history as written by someone without the belief and faith.

Ok, so... she did a fairly good job. There are little bi
Mar 13, 2012 rated it liked it
The story of the Martin Handcart Company is one that deserves to be told time and time again. In this historical fiction novel written by Sandra Dallas, she portrays well the level of suffering and sacrifice these early Latter-Day Saints endured to follow the prophet's counsel and relocate to Utah. However, as I closed the cover on the book, I really felt like something was missing from her story. And I think I've nailed it down: to me the ugliness of the hardships these people faced is rectifie ...more
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Award-winning author SANDRA DALLAS was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. Sandra’s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Sandra began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. A staff

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