We "might" get some rain today! WE are all hoping this weather prediction comes true. Since it has been so hot, I have been doing more reading than usual. I just finished True Sisters by Sandra Dallas thanks to my friend, Susan. As she so eloquently put it, "In a moment of weakness I joined the Doubleday Book Club and I have some new books to share with you!" Thankful for a generous friend!!(She ordered some really good ones).
True Sisters tells the story of one of the Mormon migrations from Iowa to Utah. Ms Dallas is not a Latter Day Saint but grew up in the Salt Lake City area and was always interested in a statue that she saw featuring a family pushing a cart filled with all their possessions as they traveled to Zion. She relates the story of the Martin company, a group of Mormons who head out in the late summer to go to Zion...or the Salt Lake valley as it is called in the book. Most of these "new" Mormons are recent converts who came to America from Scotland and England. They have been won over to Mormonism by the charismatic preaching of Mormon Missionaries who promise them a religion that will make them rulers in the Celestial Life, much different from the dour Presbyterian church and the formal Church of England. True Sisters is told from the view points of five very different women who take on the trek to Utah. Most are going willingly but one is only going because her husband told her that he would go with or without her. Loving her husband, Anne puts aside her own feelings to follow her husband's leading. The women find that life on a trail, pushing heavy carts is no picnic. Several are pregnant, a few are older and infirm but encouraged to trek to Zion anyway! There are wagons for the sick but in this big group, there are not enough wagons to transport all those who are ailing. As they approach the mountains they must travel through to get to the valley, snow begins to fall and they are trapped with very little in the way of clothing or provisions. They have had to pare down the things in their carts just to be able to push them along. They hope for rescue parties that come only when many are beyond help. Ms Dallas noted that more men than women died on this trip....proving that women are stronger than men in some ways! Eventually the party makes it to the Salt Lake Valley and find new lives there but their struggles and losses have changed them forever.
I have heard that the Mormon church has rewritten much of their history but Ms Dallas does not sugar coat the struggles of these people. She is very blunt about the leadership of the church and how the rules for them were different than the rules for the converts. She also deals with plural marriage in an open way and reminds us that in 1890 plural marriage was "abolished" and all the men had to choose just one wife to live with in the family home. It made me wonder what happened to all those other sister wives who were not chosen? It was an interesting book and I am still thinking of those women this morning!