“Others think much less about us than we believe or fear, because they are almost always thinking about themselves.”
This little gem from Gabrielle Burton tells us the story of the tragic Donner party from the midst of the woes; the books is subtitled “The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner.”
Mrs. Donner, did exist, she was the wife of George Donner and the mother of five daughters, and all were present that fateful winter. It has long been presumed that Tamsen kept a journal that was never found, here Burton puts her creative skills to work in fleshing out what might have been inked in those pages over the long cold months.
We all know the outcome and Burton is in no hurry to get there, she knows that we know the outcome as well, so she takes the position of a character who does not have this foresight and we see the small breakdowns in human dynamics along the way to tragedy.
There might be to some eyes a meandering tone here and there but it strikes me as essential and wise to build this realism of the character and the situation.
Tamsen’s thoughts, as we can see from the above quote, are just as concerned with the human interactions as they are with the ever-dwindling sources of nourishment.
This one is a prime recommendation for thoughtful readers.