"Come, come, ye saints" This song has been going through my head for the last week. I started this book forever ago (about 5 months). I will be honest and say it took me about 100 pages to get into the story. Then I was hooked. And all I have done for the last week is read this 760 page book. I know a bit about the martin and willie handcart companies. I have ancestors that were apart of both companies and survived. I have read their journals and been to martin's cove. This only added to my experience with the book. This is a story about the pioneers who pulled handcarts. They came late in the season and had terrible weather, no food, and many obstacles to overcome. If you don't know much about these pioneers than I suggest you find out. Lund does a good job showing many of the ways pioneers suffered and how they had joy along the trail. If you go back and study the history it was actually a lot harder than it was portrayed in the book. I have always felt more desperation when reading my families account of the experience, but most of the journals come from the Martin company and most of the book focuses on the Willie company.
The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the chapter notes. You get little portions of the pioneers journals. I was astounded, as I always am, at the strength these people had. Could I have made it? No! Is it easy to look at the situation and criticize the fact that they came? Yes. But we would be wrong.
One of my favorite quotes from a member of the martin handcart company- it is a response to criticism about the companies-
"I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife....
I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me! I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there.
Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay."
Sorry for the long post