30 September 2019

One More River to Cross | Book Review


In 1844, two years before the Donner Party, the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend company left Missouri to be the first wagons into California through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Mostly Irish Catholics, the party sought religious freedom and education in the mission-dominated land and enjoyed a safe journey--until October, when a heavy snowstorm forced difficult decisions. The first of many for young Mary Sullivan, newlywed Sarah Montgomery, the widow Ellen Murphy, and her pregnant sister-in-law Maolisa.

When the party separates in three directions, each risks losing those they loved and faces the prospect of learning that adversity can destroy or redefine. Two women and four men go overland around Lake Tahoe, three men stay to guard the heaviest wagons--and the rest of the party, including eight women and seventeen children, huddle in a makeshift cabin at the headwaters of the Yuba River waiting for rescue . . . or their deaths.

Award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick plunges you deep into a landscape of challenge where fear and courage go hand in hand for a story of friendship, family, and hope that will remind you of what truly matters in times of trial.

Publisher: Revell
Release Date: September 3, 2019


In the 1800s, no trip to the West occurred without unanticipated hardship. The Donner Party, of course, remains infamous for what they endured in 1846-47. Lesser known is the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend company, which chose to make the same crossing through the Sierra Nevada—with much different results.

In One More River to Cross, Jane Kirkpatrick imagines the experience this group of people had, facing a dangerous snowstorm and difficult decisions to make. Her writing is exquisite as the historical detail combines with intriguing characterizations, and it all proves extremely well-told.

My problem with this novel is strictly a personal one: I had trouble keeping track of the many characters, their relationships to one another, and who went where with whom. The book does include a map and a detailed character list at the beginning, so Kirkpatrick does her best to alleviate potential confusion. The fault here lies entirely with me.

So, if you love historical fiction, check out One More River to Cross. A story of brave men and women facing ostensibly insurmountable adversity, it’s worth a read (especially if you don’t have trouble with characters, like I do). 


I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

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