Snow Mountain Passage

Snow Mountain Passage

A Novel

Book - 2001
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Snow Mountain Passage is a powerful retelling of our most dramatic pioneer story--the ordeal of the Donner Party. Through the eyes of James Frazier Reed, one of the group's leaders, and the imagined "Trail Notes" of his daughter Patty, we journey along with the ill-fated group determined, at all costs, to make it to the California territory.
James Reed is a proud, headstrong, yet devoted husband and father. As he and his family travel in the "Palace Car," a huge, specially built--and ultimately cumbersome--covered wagon, they thrill to new sights and cope with conflict and constant danger. Yet when a fight between Reed and another driver ends in death, Reed is exiled from the group and heads over the mountains alone. The fate of the other families, including Reed's wife and four children, is sealed when they set out across a new, untested route through the Sierra--their final mountain pass. Arriving at the foothills just as the snows start to fall, they are left stranded for months--starving, freezing, and battling to survive--while Reed journeys across northern California, trying desperately to find means and men for a rescue party.
An extraordinary tale of pride and redemption, Snow Mountain Passage is a brilliantly imagined and grippingly told story straight from American history.

*National Bestseller
Publisher: New York : Knopf, c2001
ISBN: 9780156011433
Branch Call Number: HOUS
Characteristics: xi, 317 p


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Feb 03, 2006

Upon beginning to read this historical novel, I was excited to see how the author dealt with the more sensational parts of the Donner Party story. I hoped that he would create a sympathetic point of view, but he used and abused these incidents in a tabloid type way. His characters were often one sided, the wife beater for instance, or simplistic, the headachy wife. His depiction of wagon train life wavers between realism and an over simplification of events. The flip flopping between events and the order in which they really happened made me doubt the veracity of his historical fiction writing. The only truly readable parts were the diary excerpt from an eight year old girl, if you want to just skip to those parts. Ultimately this book disappoints in the most crucial part ? the history.

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