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One Eternal Winter: The Story of What Happened At Donner Pass, Winter 1846-47

by Marilyn W. Seguin
Branden Publishing Company

PO Box 812094
Wellesley, MA 02482

I have always been fascinated by the story of the Donner Party, and over the years I have read many books and watched documentaries about that ill-fated journey in 1846-47. I agree with the author, Marilyn Seguin, that the circumstances surrounding what happened at Donner Pass are controversial and often misunderstood, and even to this day people have their own opinions and judgments about the emigrants in the party and how they chose to survive. Out of the 90 travelers, 43 people perished. Personally, I think it is a very sad story in one way--but I can't help but admire the will to live and unbelievable determination shown by some of the survivors, especially the Reed family.

One Eternal Winter, written by Ms. Seguin and published by Branden Books, gives a fictionalized account of what happened on that historical journey from the perspective of twelve-year-old Virginia Reed. However, the characters and incidents in the story are real and based on diaries, letters, and memoirs of the survivors. The paperback book is about 122 pages long and includes several photographs at the end. The cost for this resource is $12.95.

Ms. Seguin is a masterful storyteller, and I really enjoyed One Eternal Winter. I have read other accounts of the doomed Donner Party that were hair-raising and chilling, and although the events are supposedly true concerning the conditions and even cannibalism among some of the emigrants, I wouldn't want to expose my younger children to such harsh realities. However, I would not hesitate to read this book to my family, as the author handles the subject matter in a tactful way. She manages to draw the reader in using Virginia's viewpoint and narrative, yet she judiciously covers an event that is often crudely portrayed by other writers and moviemakers. Highly recommended.

You can find more information about One Eternal Winter and other great resources at

Product review by Amy M. O'Quinn, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, July 2010

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