FAITH AND BETRAYAL: A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West

Sally Denton, Author . Knopf $23 (216p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4135-0

Denton, a journalist who previously explored Mormon history in American Massacre , relays and interprets a British ancestor's experiences in crossing an ocean and a continent to join the Latter-day Saints in Utah. Jean Rio Baker was, by Denton's assessment, a wealthy Victorian woman who "fell sway" to the message of Mormon missionaries in the 1840s. Not long after her husband died, she packed up her children and other members of her extended family and embarked from England on the arduous voyage to Utah. This short biography is at its best when it adheres closely to Rio Baker's own journal of her experiences on the ocean (where she tragically buried a child at sea) and the plains, which she vividly describes in fascinating detail. But for the long stretches of Rio Baker's life where she either did not keep a journal or it has not survived, readers are left with Denton's own rather angry assessment of how her great-great-grandmother was deceived and betrayed by the Mormons. Unfortunately, the book is riddled with numerous factual errors about 19th-century Mormonism and the Book of Mormon, which may cause readers to question other elements in the biography. Despite the sloppy research and some unfair caricatures, Denton portrays her ancestor as a resourceful, independent mother and midwife who heroically survived her religious disillusionment. (Apr. 28)

Reviewed on: 04/11/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 108 pages - 978-0-307-42583-6
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-1-4000-3473-4
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