I am writing this review as one stop on Tristi Pinkston’s virtual book tour. I was asked to take part and Tristi kindly sent me a copy of the book to read which, as you all know by my voracious reading habits, wasn’t a difficult job to accept. Before I review the book, there is one disclosure I feel I should make. My religious beliefs differ greatly from those portrayed by Tristi in this historical story of her family. Personally, I am an atheist and I am also against organised religion – which meant I had to approach this book differently from many other reviewers. Being aware of my views I tried to step back from emotion as I read it and view it as a fascinating historical document.
Theme and history
Season of Sacrifice tells the story of Ben Perkins, a Welsh Mormon who immigrated to Utah in the mid nineteenth century to join many others who also subscribed to the same religion in building a new life. That life was built on risk and danger as they travelled to places previously unsettled by white people in the American landscape and tried to make a life for themselves. The story follows not only the physical hardships of Ben, his beloved wife Mary Ann and his family, but also the emotional difficulties that were faced in the name of their faith – specifically the hurt which arose from his decision to take Mary Ann’s sister Sarah as his second wife. Tristi is descended from Ben and Sarah, and therefore approaches the story in a considerate way, while never avoiding the reality of what the two sisters must have felt.
The theme is one of faith in the face of unavoidable human emotion and hardship. The characters’ faith is unswerving, but the aspect I found interesting was that even faith can’t stop you feeling. So often, historical books shy away from touching on the emotional aspect of people’s lives because emotions were rarely documented in historical records. This book has a historical backdrop, but reads like a fictional novel, with all expressions of feeling given pride of place.
The theme of faith and pioneering permeate the entire story. For me, it was eye-opening to see how much a religion drove people’s lives and choices, even if those choices brought danger or destruction to life or feelings. But irrespective, the choices shaped the country and echo through to this day.
Structure and Style
Tristi wrote this novel over a very short period of time, and makes it very clear which aspects are based in fact and which have been subject to fictional licence. I liked the fact that she took the time to provide this information, as it made it easy to explore those aspects of actual history which caught my attention. It is very easy to read, making good use of dialogue to maintain the pace. Tristi’s style is not complex – she is there to tell a story and she does that well. I did pick up a couple of typographical errors (which I always seem to spot, no matter which books I read!) so perhaps it could have been proofread a little more carefully, but nevertheless it wasn’t a difficult book to finish.
Of course, it is always difficult to take oneself and one’s own beliefs out of the reading experience. This is the reason why I might love one book while the person next to me hates it. It is what makes us all different. One of the things I do subscribe to is learning and understanding, and I am always happy to read books which portray a different view to my own. I think everyone should do it – perhaps if they did there would be more tolerance and views which were based on education and understanding rather than views blindly accepted without question.
Tristi Pinkston has crafted a story which has allowed me, as a reader, to do that. She did not come across as preachy, nor did she assume that everyone who read her book would end it feeling warm and comfortable. She did not write just for those who follow a particular creed – rather, she wrote a universally accessible tale, exposed a period of history which those of us outside of the Mormon religion would never have known about, and given a human face to some of the players within that drama.