GONE TO DALLAS: THE STOREKEEPER 1856 - 1861
LAURIE MOORE - MOORE
Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas Pioneers / Civil War
Publisher: Goat Mountain Press
Date of Publication: October 4, 2021
Number of Pages: 348 pages
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Sara’s husband was a disappointment in life, but she had to admit he was a handsome corpse.
Climb aboard an 1856 Dallas-bound wagon train and join a plucky female protagonist for the
journey of a lifetime in Laurie Moore-Moore’s richly entertaining new book, Gone to Dallas, The Storekeeper 1856-1861. Far from your average historical novel or western, Gone to Dallas is a compelling tale of migration, betrayal, death and dreams—peppered with real people, places, and events. With a cast of interesting characters and more bumps and hazards than a wagon trail, Gone to Dallas tells the unforgettable story of a formidable frontier woman in the context of true Texas history.
It had seemed so romantic when Morgan Darnell courted Sara in Tennessee, finally convincing her they should marry and join an 1856 “Gone to Texas” wagon train traveling along the “Trail of Tears,” through Indian territory, and across the Red River into Texas.
In a twist of fate, Sara arrives in Dallas a 19-year-old widow, armed with plenty of pluck, and determined to open a general store in the tiny settlement of log cabins on the Trinity River. Standing in her way as a young woman alone are a host of challenges. Can Sara (with the help of her friends) pull herself up by the bootstraps and overcome uncertainty, vandalism, threats, and even being shot?
Follow Sara as she strives to create her store while living Dallas’ true history — from the beginnings of La Réunion (the European colony across the Trinity) to a mud and muck circus, a grand ball and the mighty fire that burns Dallas to the ground. Dallas is a challenging place, especially with the Civil War looming.
Even with the friendship of a retired Texas Ranger and Dallas’ most important citizen — another woman — is Sara strong enough to meet the challenge? The risks are high. Failure means being destitute in Dallas!
In Gone to Dallas, The Storekeeper 1856-1861, author Laurie Moore-Moore spins a page-turner of a tale salted with historically accurate Texas events and populated with real characters. It’s Portis’ True Grit meets Texas history.
READER PRAISE FOR GONE TO DALLAS:
"Creative and captivating…five stars!"
"An unforgettable journey…superb writing.”
“I was hooked at the very first sentence.”
“Lovely work of historical fiction…can’t wait for the sequel."
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I did not know what I was going to get when I picked up GONE TO DALLAS, by Laurie Moore-Moore, but the title was intriguing and the book delivered. Entertaining while informative, GONE TO DALLAS is a good story. There aren't enough of these stories published anymore, and I'm glad I found out about this one through this blog tour.
Most Texans and many others have heard of the phrase "Gone to Texas," (even just hearing it makes me picture an angry Davy Crockett). So GONE TO DALLAS was sure to be a twist. Lucky for me, and I think many of you, this story revolves around a plucky woman, Sara Darnell. She's going to need all of her pluck, considering that she's gotten herself in over her head both in the trip and in her new marriage.
Sara's story starts off with a bang with that awesome first line (see the #firstlines graphic), making the reader wonder what in the world is going to happen.
So we know that Morgan Darnell isn't going to make it all the way. With each turn of the wagon wheel, we wonder--is this going to be his downfall? That's a great page turner, but the story also unfolds in a way that we get to see many of the persons on the trail with them, all with distinct personalities. We come to know that Sara, a young woman whose parents want the best for her, was pampered enough in life not to know how to cook anything of real substance (does that bring back memories for anyone?). But she's not above asking for help and learning as she travels. So that also adds an interesting layer to the story, since we know her husband is going to die. Will she be able to look after herself? On top of that, as the rest of the characters come alive, the reader can't help but wonder who will be a help and who a hindrance. For example, when a former Texas Ranger appears, John Henry Adams (what a great name), you can't help but wonder how his life and Sara's will intersect through this journey.
Now, when the wagon train reaches Indian Territory and crosses the Red River, the story takes on another point of interest, as they run into all kinds of Texans with famous last names. And its really interesting, seeing early Dallas in development, when the always dangerous Trinity river is much more than just something a busy freeway crosses. GONE TO DALLAS has characters you'd expect-- a grumpy store owner, who doesn't want Sara encroaching on his territory, some near-do-wells, a lawyer, a boarding house owner, the developer, and deadly Texas weather. But the heart of the story comes from the unexpected, such as the French settlement with a name familiar to anyone who's had anything to with Dallas, or all the various ways the settlers help each other--even when it is unexpected. Not to mention a circus coming to town.
But what will happen to Sara? Also, what will happen to all of them, for this book covering the years 1856-1861, and we all know what is coming. I was very interested to see how that all would be handled, and I won't give it away, other than to say that Sam Houston has a great cameo, and is quoted as saying some of the most important words he ever uttered. Not that anybody ever listens to Cassandras, which means Book Two ought to be even more intriguing and full of hazards and hardships.
GONE TO DALLAS is a good book and a page turner. It's historical fiction that keeps the reader interested. I'll remember Sara and her friends for some time to come.
Thank you for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
From the author: “My husband, Roger, and I have been blessed with many adventures in life—from trekking across India’s Thar desert on a camel (and sleeping in the sand on our camel blankets) to repeating marriage vows in a remote Maasi village in Kenya (my dowery was one cow and one goat). My favorite adventure? As a fifth generation Texan, it is discovering more and more Texas history and writing about it!
We live in Dallas, Texas but sneak away when possible, to a mountain-top cabin overlooking a lake in former Indian Territory (the Oklahoma Ozark Mountains) The cabin is unique—there is a nine foot chainsaw bear in our entry hall. The house was built around it. Never thought I’d own a piece of chainsaw art, much less a nine-foot bear. Life is full of surprises. . . just like a good historical novel.”
Laurie Moore-Moore is a retired entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple businesses and served on the Board of Directors of an international corporation.
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