Known for her powerful, feminist, western-set novels, Dallas tackles a story based on actual events in the lives of a band of Mormon setters and their harrowing journey to the “promised land.” With her unfaltering eye for her characters’ motivations and her careful and keen understanding of the human heart, Dallas creates a real portrait of the era and another compelling read.
Brigham Young devises a plan to encourage Mormons to settle in Salt Lake City, by outfitting his converts with two-wheeled handcarts. The Martin company, one of the last groups to leave Iowa City, find themselves facing disaster. United by dreams of a new life and religious fervor, their ties of family and friendship are tested on the journey as never before. Nannie, jilted on her wedding day, travels with her brother and sister-in-law hoping to find a husband. Louisa, wife of a church leader, talks to God and thinks she speaks for him. Jessie and her brothers long for a farm of their own, and Anne is following her husband, a recent convert, because he has sold their possessions and she has no choice. The hardships of the trail force these women to forge a bond that is more powerful than one of blood. (ST. MARTIN’S, Apr., 320 pp., $24.99)