Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton

Impatient with DesireNot a trashy romance. Really.

The book in one sentence: Tamsen Donner recounts the ill-fated journey of 80+ pioneers through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846. 

My thoughts: I received Impatient with Desire yesterday in the mail through the LibraryThing Early Bird Reviewers, and I got just a bit of an eyeroll from the hubby when he saw the title of the book. I've sort of sworn off trashy romance novels - and this is what this book seemed to be about - an illicit romance with lots of steamy sex scenes! The cover design sends off mixed signals too - despite the cool mountain panorama, the flowered detail at the bottom again suggests romance. (If you ask me, the title really should be changed; it's misleading - for those who expect a trashy romance, and for those on the lookout for a non-trashy read.)

I had a little explaining to do, that it was historical fiction based on the tribulations of pioneering Americans migrating to California. I found the subject matter fascinating, provoking, if not a bit depressing, but highlighting the tenacity of the human spirit despite whatever life throws. The fact that it is a well-researched piece of fiction underscores that history can come alive, especially told from a first-person point of view; Tamsen Donner is a force to be reckoned with as she is the epitome of the stubborn lover, the ferocious mother, and the strong woman of the time.

I had a bit of a problem with the chronology of this book as it got a little confusing, despite the highly detailed accounts and lists of people in the story.

First line:  Think of all the roads a man a woman walk until they reach the road they'll walk together.

Last line: Chain up!

Verdict: Kudos to Gabrielle Burton on this riveting read! I couldn't put it down, despite some minor confusions.

More reading on the true story upon which this is based:
The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate
The American Experience: The Donner Party
The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds : The Donner Party Expedition, 1846 (My Name Is America)
The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate

Update, July 2011: The cover was changed to this, after much feedback from reviewers. I must say it's a vast improvement. What do you think?


  1. Dear Guiltless Reader,
    Google alerted me to your warm review of my novel, Impatient with Desire. I'm so glad it resonated with you, and I LOVED what you said about Tamsen. That's how I feel about her too.
    All best,
    Gabrielle Burton
    PS You're not the first one, and probably won't be the last, who's not wild about the title. I didn't mean to be misleading. I meant the title in two senses: the first of course her eagerness, and the 2nd her impatience with her eagerness.

  2. Ms. Burton, thank you for coming by my blog, your kind comments, and I look forward to reading more of your work! P.S. I understood the title perfectly, though only AFTER I'd read the book.

  3. Dear Aloi,

    Hello. You were so supportive of my novel and me that I wanted to tell you that Impatient with Desire is coming out in paperback March 15th. It'll have a new cover and a subtitle: Impatient With Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner.

    Although you've reviewed the book, I thought you might be interested in a brand new idea: a small, select pre publication paperback book club that will foster reader/author interaction and use social media--Good Reads, Facebook, Twitter, Skype etc. You'll be hearing from Julia Callahan whom I gave your name to. Our hope is to introduce many readers to Tamsen Donner and other pioneer heroines that have either been misunderstood or disappeared from our history as well as to discuss them more deeply and personally. With your keen interest in women's fiction as well as in history, I thought that our goal would resonate with you.

    I very much hope that the pre pub book club sparks your interest, and that this note finds you and yours well and thriving.

    All best,
    Gabrielle Burton

    PS I also wanted to tell you that my nonfiction book, a memoir, Searching for Tamsen Donner, (U of Nebraska Press, 2009) comes out in paperback this fall.



© guiltless readingMaira Gall