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True Sisters by Sandra Dallas

True Sisters

By Sandra Dallas

PBR Book Review:

Based on true events, this is a story of survival. It focuses on four members of the Martin Handcart Company as they made the 1,300-mile journey from Iowa to Salt lake City. Through these four women, the author highlights a piece of history little is know about and makes it hard to forget the horrors of this misguided journey. Aside from the hardships and human suffering as a result of traveling on foot - pushing handcarts - the book goes into the underhanded tactics the Church Elders used to persuade the group to continue the journey when things turned ugly. Recommend for historical fiction enthusiasts and those interested in Mormon history.

Book Club Talking Points:

There is a lot to irk and vex in this book. For starters the self-important Mormon leaders who make bad decisions and give bad advice based on the belief they are being divinely guided. Plural marriage and the servile treatment of women is contrasted to the strength and courage these woman displayed against the harshest circumstances.

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*Author Website:

*Other Books by Same Author: Fiction: “The Quilt Walk”, “The Bride’s House”, Whiter Than Snow”,” Prayers for Sale”, Tallgrass”, “New Mercies”, “The Chili Queen”, “ Alice’s Tulips”, “The Diary of Mattie Spenser”, “The Persian Pickle Club”. Non-Fiction: “The Quilt That Walked to Golden”, “Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps”.

*Discussion Questions

1. What were the driving reasons for Nannie to give up her career to convert to Mormonism? Would you have given up what she had?

2. Is it truly a renouncement of faith for Louisa's family to stay in New York over the winter? Was Thales' reaction unreasonable? What was he trying to prove?

3. Why did Robert and Maud decide to make the trek against their friends’ advice?

4. The Saints excommunicate a woman for adultery without a trail, which upsets some of the sisters. Is this a fair verdict? What does this show about how women are treated in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

5. Why does the Old Absalom oppose making the trek in the winter when he knows it is against the wishes of the other leaders? Is this indicative of cracks within the group?

6. Is it right for the other saints to profit from Emeline’s father when the cart is overturned? Should their need supersede the Mormon value of respect for the grieving?

7. What effect do you think Emeline had on Ephraim? Would he have survived the journey without her?

8. Does Thales have a revelation after he causes his nephew Jimmy’s death, or was the humility he shows always a part of his character?

9. What does Anne represent for the other Mormon women? Do they ultimately accept her?

10. At what point would your faith have been shaken?

11. Polygamy is a constant source of stress for the female characters in True Sisters, coming to a head when they arrive in Zion. Do you agree that it was the right decision for Andrew to offer to take Nannie as a second wife? Should she have accepted?

12. Have you ever heard of the Mormon handcart tragedy?

13. Do you feel that True Sisters gave you a good insight into what made Mormonism compelling to the converts? Did they make the right choice to leave their lives in the United Kingdom and make the pilgrimage to Zion?

Book Summary
Hardcover: 352 pages Publisher: St. Martin's Press - 352 pages - April 24, 2012 - ISBN-10: 1250005027
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, the promised land. The Martin Handcart Company, a ragtag group of weary families headed for Zion, is the last to leave on this 1,300-mile journey. Three companies that left earlier in the year have completed their trek successfully, but for the Martin Company the trip proves disastrous. True Sisters tells the story of four women from the British Isles traveling in this group. Four women whose lives will become inextricably linked as they endure unimaginable hardships, each one testing the boundaries of her faith and learning the true meaning of survival and friendship along the way.

There’s Nannie, who is traveling with her sister and brother-in-law after being abandoned on her wedding day. There’s Louisa, who’s married to an overbearing church leader who she believes speaks for God. There’s Jessie, who’s traveling with her brothers, each one of them dreaming of the farm they will have in Zion. And finally, there’s Anne, who hasn’t converted to Mormonism but who has no choice but to follow her husband since he has sold everything to make the trek to Utah.

Sandra Dallas has once again written a moving portrait of women surviving the unimaginable through the ties of female friendship. Her rich storytelling will leave you breathless as you take this trip with Nannie, Louisa, Jessie, and Anne. This is Sandra Dallas at her absolute best.

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