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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

This title in other editions

Impatient with Desire

by

Impatient with Desire Cover

ISBN13: 9781401341015
ISBN10: 1401341012
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

Only 2 left in stock at $8.95!

 

Staff Pick

I so loved this sad novel, told in letters and journal entries by Tamsen Donner, wife of the leader of the Donner Party. It broke my heart to read about her wanderlust and her worry that her actions may have condemned her daughters to death. Impatient with Desire still lingers in the edges of my mind.
Recommended by Linda C., Powell's Books at PDX

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 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 Sierra Nevadas 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 California-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.

Review:

"The story of the Donner Party is sketchily retold in Burton's new novel, which reimagines the tragedy through the eyes of Tamsen Donner, 45-year-old wife of George Donner, the leader of the party that, in 1846, set out from Springfield, Ill., for California and wound up snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter. In journal entries and letters to her sister, Tamsen dutifully recounts her early life in Massachusetts, Donner's courtship, their decision to move to California, and the blunders that ate up time and trapped their party for four months in the mountain snow, where Tamsen proves to be a pillar of strength for her injured husband, their family, and the other families depending upon them for survival. The narrative builds to what readers will be most curious about: how did the cannibalism come about? The answer is supplied by Tamsen in a matter-of-fact way that is in keeping with the other horrors she describes. In the end, the narrative's feminist trappings feel forced, and the result is a novel that only fitfully fulfils its goal of dramatizing the famous events from a new point of view." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

- Impatient with Desire is this season's Publisher's Pick. Special terms available.

- The author's extensive research draws upon correspondence that, until recently, was seen by few outside the Donner descendants.

Synopsis:

Burton's novel reimagines the Donner party tragedy through the eyes of Tamsen Donner, wife of George Donner, the leader of the group that, in 1846, set out for California and wound up snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter.

Synopsis:

The Donner Party

You know how some died.

Here's how some lived.

"My heart is big with hope and impatient with desire." --Tamsen Donner, a letter to her sister

In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed west on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives in California. 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 mountains performing an unspeakable act to survive--but we know only that one harrowing part of it. Impatient with Desire brings to stunning life a woman--and a love story--behind the myth. Historians have long known that Tamsen kept a journal, though it was never found. In Impatient with Desire, Burton imagines this lost journal--and paints a picture of a remarkable heroine in an extraordinary situation.

About the Author

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

FleurDeMar, February 21, 2011 (view all comments by FleurDeMar)
Just because a book is small (256 pages) doesn’t mean it can’t be powerful. And boy, is Impatient With Desire powerful!

It’s the fictional account of the true story of ‘The Donner Party’ who left their home in search of a better life in California in 1846. Burton uses the perfect amount of, what I believe to be painstaking, research and intelligent illusion to get into the mind of Tamsen Donner and what it must have been like to see her family go through what they did. Their experiences are told through fictional diary entries and letters to Tamsen’s sister. Her actions when her family, friends, and those around her are starving and freezing and trapped in the snowy mountains show her to be a woman of strength and I came to admire her greatly.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Wendy Robards, April 16, 2010 (view all comments by Wendy Robards)
The story of the Donner Party is well known – a group of 87 pioneers set out for California by wagon train in 1846, but became stranded in the Sierra Nevada, high in the mountains near Truckee, California. Their decision to take a new cut-off (called the Hastings cutoff) delayed their passage west and an early snowfall trapped them in the desolate wilderness just shy of their goal. Forced to spend more than four months in the wilderness, all but 48 perished from starvation and illness. Several survivors resorted to cannibalism after they ran out of oxen and buffalo hides to eat.

Although many have written of the Donner Party and created websites specifically about the ill-fated journey, few have attempted to create an historical novel focused on any of the individuals. Gabrielle Burton has imagined letters and journal entries written by Tamsen Donner and written Impatient With Desire – a novel focused on the Donner family themselves (including their five children) and narrated by Tamsen.

'The novel focuses on one family, George and Tamsen Donner and their five daughters, with the hope that the reader will understand other pioneers through them. The voice is that of Tamsen Donner, a heroine I chanced upon in the early 1970s while writing an apprentice novel about an unrelated subject.' - from the Author’s Note about Impatient with Desire, page 237 of the ARE -

Burton’s novel is nonlinear in nature – first placing the reader with the stranded and desperate party, and then moving back and forth in time to give information about not only the journey itself, but the history of the characters prior to their decision to move west. Tamsen’s voice is clear and compelling – heard through her letters to her sister Betsy as well as through the imagined journal entries. Burton brings to life a woman who yearned to see what had not yet been seen, an explorer who could not silence the wanderlust within herself. The risks of moving across a country which had been mostly uncharted were great – Indian attacks, accidents, illness…and for the Donner Party, the unpredictable weather and a new trail which took them through the rugged and nearly impassable Wasatch Mountain range.

Burton successfully captures the plight of the pioneers through Tamsen’s voice.

'In the beginning of course we were on ground level, but now we are underground inside walls of snow. We’re not sure how much snow has fallen – twenty feet? – but from the poles Jean Baptiste thrusts into the ground, we estimate the snowpack at twelve feet.' - from the ARE of Impatient with Desire, page 99 -

This novel is less about the facts of the Donner Party journey (although those are there), but more about the people who experienced it – specifically, the women who made the journey. By focusing on letters and journal entries, Burton has provided the opportunity for readers to understand the possible thoughts and emotions of the pioneers who headed west in search of adventure and land. The novel gives insight into the dreams of those who paved the way for future generations.

Impatient with Desire does not spare its readers the desperation of its characters. At times it is hard to read as Tamsen records the deaths of each person in her Bible. Those who know the history behind the novel cannot help but dread the death of George, Tamsen’s husband who shared her dreams. But despite the sadness behind the novel, it was also an exhilarating read. I was left feeling tremendous respect and awe for those individuals who had the courage and fortitude to strike out into the wilderness, knowing the risks, but believing in a better life for themselves and their families.

Readers who love historical fiction and who are interested especially in the women of history, will enjoy Impatient with Desire. Richly imagined and heartbreaking, this is a novel I can recommend.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781401341015
Subtitle:
The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner
Author:
Burton, Gabrielle
Publisher:
Hyperion
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Autobiographical fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20110315
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.625 in 13.92 oz
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Impatient with Desire Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Voice - English 9781401341015 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I so loved this sad novel, told in letters and journal entries by Tamsen Donner, wife of the leader of the Donner Party. It broke my heart to read about her wanderlust and her worry that her actions may have condemned her daughters to death. Impatient with Desire still lingers in the edges of my mind.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The story of the Donner Party is sketchily retold in Burton's new novel, which reimagines the tragedy through the eyes of Tamsen Donner, 45-year-old wife of George Donner, the leader of the party that, in 1846, set out from Springfield, Ill., for California and wound up snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter. In journal entries and letters to her sister, Tamsen dutifully recounts her early life in Massachusetts, Donner's courtship, their decision to move to California, and the blunders that ate up time and trapped their party for four months in the mountain snow, where Tamsen proves to be a pillar of strength for her injured husband, their family, and the other families depending upon them for survival. The narrative builds to what readers will be most curious about: how did the cannibalism come about? The answer is supplied by Tamsen in a matter-of-fact way that is in keeping with the other horrors she describes. In the end, the narrative's feminist trappings feel forced, and the result is a novel that only fitfully fulfils its goal of dramatizing the famous events from a new point of view." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , - Impatient with Desire is this season's Publisher's Pick. Special terms available.

- The author's extensive research draws upon correspondence that, until recently, was seen by few outside the Donner descendants.

"Synopsis" by , Burton's novel reimagines the Donner party tragedy through the eyes of Tamsen Donner, wife of George Donner, the leader of the group that, in 1846, set out for California and wound up snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the winter.
"Synopsis" by , The Donner Party

You know how some died.

Here's how some lived.

"My heart is big with hope and impatient with desire." --Tamsen Donner, a letter to her sister

In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed west on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives in California. 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 mountains performing an unspeakable act to survive--but we know only that one harrowing part of it. Impatient with Desire brings to stunning life a woman--and a love story--behind the myth. Historians have long known that Tamsen kept a journal, though it was never found. In Impatient with Desire, Burton imagines this lost journal--and paints a picture of a remarkable heroine in an extraordinary situation.

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