GONE TO DALLAS:
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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Like other readers, I was hooked after reading the first line of this book.
In that simple sentence, I could immediately see a strength in Sara that would serve her well as she finished the trip to Dallas after her husband died.
As a young bride, newly married, Sara joins the wagon train from Tennessee to Texas with her husband, Morgan. They have dreams of opening a store in Dallas and are filled with the excitement of a new life and new prospects that buoys their spirits when the travel is wrought with calamities, hostile weather, and death. That dream is shattered when the wagon train is just a few days from Dallas, and Morgan dies, leaving Sara with the difficult choice of turning back to her home in Tennessee, or staying to fulfill her dream of being a shopkeeper.
Sara is a very engaging character, and I had to admire the way she handled herself when she got to Dallas and made the decision to stay. Her resourcefulness and determination served her well as she worked to establish a general store despite the many challenges. Some of those challenges were her own doubts about whether she could do this without Morgan, and her train of thought as she talked herself out of giving up was very realistic. Some of her confidence came from her experience helping her father with the business side of running his horse farm in Tennessee, and that added credibility to her resourcefulness and business acumen as she dealt with the men from whom she would rent buildings for her store.
I also admired her spunk when facing down lecherous, drunken buffalo hunters and other ne’er- do-wells. It was easy to see why so many people in this new community respected her for that, as well as her charm and graciousness.
Learning some of the history of Dallas in the 1800s while reading this novel was a bonus for me. I’ve lived near Dallas off and on for years and delighted in each reference to a landmark or historical figure that I was familiar with. I even learned that Preston Road evolved from the Preston Trail that ran north and south through Dallas and beyond way back when. Today, I drive that road south to visit my kids, and I smile when I think that Sara walked that trail when it was just dirt and mud in front of her store. If I go downtown on Preston, I can close my eyes and picture that scene, as the descriptions put us firmly in the place.
The cast of characters in this story are fascinating with personalities that shine with realism and quirkiness. Some of the characters are based on real people who were instrumental in the founding of Dallas, such as John Neely Bryan, as well as the immigrants from Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The blending of those characters with the fictional ones was smooth and made the story all the more enjoyable to read.
I highly recommend this book for readers who want a story with a strong female lead, an intriguing storyline with a touch of sweet romance, and some tidbits of history.
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 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.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Three autographed copies of
Gone to Dallas
(US only, ends midnight, CDT, 11/5/21)
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