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Publisher's Summary

In the voice of an unforgettable heroine, V. A. Shannon explores one of the most harrowing episodes in pioneer history - the ill-fated journey of the Donner Party - in a mesmerizing novel of resilience and survival.

Mrs. Jacob Klein has a husband, children, and a warm and comfortable home in California. No one - not even her family - knows how she came to be out West 13 years ago. Jacob, a kind and patient man, has promised not to ask. But if she were to tell her story, she would recount a tale of tragedy, mishaps, and unthinkable choices - yet also sacrifice, courage, and a powerful, unexpected love....

1846: On the outskirts of Cincinnati, wagons gather by the hundreds, readying to head west to California. Among the throng is a 15-year-old girl eager to escape her abusive family. With just a few stolen dollars to her name, she enlists as helpmate to a married couple with a young daughter. Their group stays optimistic in the face of the journey's hazards and delays. Then comes a decision that she is powerless to prevent: Instead of following the wagon train's established route, the Donner Party will take a shortcut over the Sierras, aiming to clear the mountains before the first snows descend.

In the years since that infamous winter, other survivors have sold their accounts for notoriety and money, lurid tales often filled with half-truths or blatant, gory lies. Now, Mrs. Klein must decide whether to keep those bitter memories secret, or risk destroying the life she has endured so much to build.

©2018 V. A. Shannon (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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What listeners say about When Winter Comes

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    3 out of 5 stars

Historical fiction

A compelling fictional account of the disasterous Donner Party, personalized by a first person narrative. Although it is a harrowing story, the gruesome details are kept to a minimum. The story did get a bit bogged down with the number of names of members of the party and the disputes, some petty, some serious, that arose. I felt that the ending was a bit abrupt, as I had become invested in the unnamed narrators struggle to move past that terrible winter. The narrator was excellent.

17 people found this helpful

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A good read

I will warn that the descriptions of cannibalism may be disturbing to sensitive listeners. I enjoyed the narrator’s voice. Very proper and appropriate for displaying the genre and time period

10 people found this helpful

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History at its best

I have always been fascinated by the story of America’s westward expansion. This tale is one of the “juiciest” (tacky? Maybe) and Shannon adds just the right touch of fiction to make it “digestible” (that was probably taking it too far!). I highly recommend the book and the narrator was superb. Thanks for the entertainment!

9 people found this helpful

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Interesting listen

Realistic without being too gruesome. Kept my intetest throughout. Now I want to research the tragedy myself!

9 people found this helpful

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when winter comes

Loved it.... I enjoy historical novels. The narrator was very good her voice inflections and changes were very nice. I would love to read more by this author.

7 people found this helpful

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Interesting and enjoyable book.

What a fascinating story! It was beautifully written and performed. I liked that true events were presented through the eyes of a fictional character. Well done!

6 people found this helpful

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Transported!

i was totally transported! i could see the journey in my minds eye and felt like i was part of the party traveling to California. Very enjoyable!

5 people found this helpful

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Well written, but gruesome...

This was a good, well written historical novel. However I cannot say that I enjoyed it, as it was a gruesome and sad story. But, I knew that going in since it is about the Donner Party. Overall, I recommend this book, but with caution. Be prepared to hear gory details of the survival, and death of those in the Donner Party.

4 people found this helpful

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Really good book!

Really good book but Luis and Salvador were actually Miwok Native Americans. The book kept referring to them as Mexicans.

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting storyline

Interesting story and development of a fictional character who traveled with the ill-fated Donner party.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Barbara
  • 11-25-21

Ending?

I have enjoyed this tale but was disappointed by the ending which did not, in my opinion, give a satisfactory explanation of the end for so many pioneering travellers.
Nevertheless it is a stirring tale, leaving this listener with much to ponder.