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A story of the Donner Party

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"Wonderful historical fiction, I loved it and couldn't put it down. ... I read this remarkable novel in bed, on the bus and crammed it in my handbag to take to work, I was so engrossed in the story."

"Best book I've read this year so far!" 

In October 1846, a small group of emigrants travelling from the east coast of America to California arrived at the shores of Truckee Lake (now renamed Donner Lake) in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  Only a few miles from the pass that would take them through the mountain and safely into California, they were stopped in their journey by a blizzard.  The storm did not abate and within days they were trapped in their makeshift camp by snow that, in places, reached twenty feet in height.


By the time help arrived in March of the following year, only a handful of survivors remained.

Although the story of the Donner-Reed Party - to give its full name - has passed into modern mythology, there is much more to it than just its tragic ending. The first part of the journey was a time of great adventure and excitement, and many of the survivors of these ultimately tragic events went on to lead productive and inspiring lives in California.

I was determined to be as accurate as possible in recounting these events. I loved my characters so much that I was passionate about doing them justice,  be they heroes, saints, martyrs or villains.  And my research led me to discover facts that surprised me about the reality of these events, and the way they are perceived in our present day. 


I also wanted to gently introduce some themes that have a more modern resonance, such as the role of women in a changing world and an America that was poised on the brink of civil war.   I did this by inventing a fictional character, the nameless narrator of the novel, who survives, marries, and makes her home in California.    

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