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Impatient with Desire

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  621 Ratings  ·  207 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
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ebook, 266 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Hyperion
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Theresa
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Laurie Notaro
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent book. One of the absolute best I have read in the last several years. Highly recc.
Wendy
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
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guiltlessreader
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Susan (aka Just My Op)
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan (aka Just My Op) 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
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Jackie
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
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
Orsolya
Dec 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily
Jun 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, usa
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
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Kirsten
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jeff
Feb 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
...more
Kilian Metcalf
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Leah Weisse
Dec 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Kate
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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.
Ruby
This was not at all what I was expecting. I pulled a short-looking book off the shelf that I could try to finish in one sitting. This was a surprisingly readable fictional re-telling of the Donner party and the decisions that lead them to being stuck in the mountains over an entire winter, and eventually resorting to cannibalism.

Part of what made it so readable was how gorgeously the book is laid out and the artwork sprinkled throughout.
S
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
It was okay. A bit too back and forth.
Cara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
MyGoodBookshelf
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
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Carin
Who hasn’t been interested in the bizarre, sad, and frightening story of The Donner Party? Well, Ms. Burton became more than a little obsessed with it over the years, and with Tamsen Donner in particular, and we are all the beneficiary thanks to this gem of a novel. Told entirely through letters and journal entries by Tamsen, the story jumps back and forth between now (trapped in what is now Donner Pass, in a makeshift shelter, slowly starving to death with her children and her injured husband), ...more
Ti
Jan 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Short of It:

Burton’s rendition of this tale is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

The Rest of It:

Impatient with Desire was an interesting read. Burton’s tale is based on historic fact, but she had fun with some of the details and switched them around a bit to suit her. I’m glad that she approached the novel in this manner because we all know how the Donner party turned out. There is so little to go on as far as what actually happened but she used what she could find and built a story around i
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Ab
Jun 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Erin
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Robin
I had very high expectations for this book. I thought it was so awesome that the author was obsessed with her research on Tamsen Donner – who better to try to recreate the inside of her head during that harrowing winter? Repeating the refrain of the Donner party going on the journey “strangers to [them]selves,” and then discovering the shape of their will to survive, Burton should have been able to befriend the stranger and know her on a level heretofore unexplored.

The journal/letter-writing for
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kris hicar
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Carly Thompson
A fast read about the Donner Party western expedition of 1847. Narrated in the first person by Tamsen Donner (the wife of George Donner, the leader of the wagon train) as a series of diary entries and letters to her sister Betsey, this novel captures the plight of the trapped would be settlers. The narrative jumps back and forth in time as Tamsen writes of her first husband, happy second marriage to George Donner, the beginning of the westward trek, and the horrible circumstances that lead to th ...more
Star
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tamsen Donner, along with the rest of the Donner Party, set out for open land and new opportunity. The same trip thousands of others made over the Oregon Trail, with one exception that makes this group of travelers immortalized in history. They were stuck in the mountains for months and had to turn to sustaining themselves in one of the worst ways imaginable – cannibalism. Tamsen wrote in her journal constantly as she was an educated woman and teacher in times where women only counted as homemak ...more
EBG
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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“-though sometimes it seems to mention a man who simply acts like a decent human being gets undue praise” 2 likes
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