With epic sweep and breathtaking adventure, Sara don'ti's bestselling saga of an Early American family's struggle for survival in the Northeast wilderness continues with the story of an indomitable woman and an unforgettable journey of redemption across a young nation threatened by the flames of war. The year is 1812 and Hannah Bonner has returned to her family's mountain cabin in Paradise. But Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner can see that Hannah is not the same woman as when she left. For their daughter has come home without her husband and without her son ¦and with a story of loss and tragedy that she can't bear to tell. Yet as Hannah resumes her duties as a gifted healer among the sick and needy, she finds that she is also slowly healing herself. Little does she realize that she is about to be called away to face her greatest challenge ever.
Elizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner's adult children take center stage in this fourth novel (after Lake in the Clouds) in Donati's "Into the Wilderness" series, which takes place during the War of 1812. Daughter Hannah returns home without her husband and child, bearing emotional wounds too deep to discuss. Meanwhile, twins Lily and Daniel, now young adults, set out on their own, Lily to study art in Montreal and Daniel to fight in the war. Donati's usual cast of villagers play a central role: widowed Bonner cousin Jennet Scott leaves her family home in Scotland to reunite with the man she's loved since childhood, conniving Jemima Southern is suspected of the mysterious deaths of a mentally ill woman and a freed slave, and housekeeper Curiosity Freedman serves again as a voice of patience and reason. Fans of earlier titles will not be disappointed, as this novel contains the same combination of romance and adventure, not to mention the most intriguing mystery in the series yet. However, references to characters and events in the previous titles may distract newcomers. Recommended for libraries where historical fiction is popular.-Nanette E. Wargo, Champaign P.L., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Fire Along the Sky by Sara Donati
Early September 1812
Paradise, New-York State
Hot sun and abundant rain: Lily Bonner said a word of thanks for a good summer and the harvest it had given them, and in the same breath she wished her hoe to the devil and herself away.
But there was no chance of escape. Even Lily's mother, whose usual and acknowledged place was at her writing desk or in a classroom, had come to help; everyone must, this close to harvest. The women must, Lily corrected herself: the men were in the cool of the forests.
She glanced up and caught sight of her mother, all furious concentration as she moved along her row. She swung her hoe with the same easy rhythm as Many-Doves. They were an army of two marching through the tasseled rows, corn brushing shoulders and cheeks as if to thank the women for their care.
For all their lives the Mohawk women had spent the best part of every summer day in the fields tending the three sisters: corn, beans, squash. But Lily's mother had been raised in a great English manor house with servants, and she had not held a hoe in her hands--white skin, ink-stained fingers--until she was thirty. Elizabeth Middleton had come to New-York as a spinster, a teacher, a crusader; in just six months' time she had become someone very different.
Lily understood a simple truth: the day came for every woman when she must choose one kind of life or another or let someone else make the choice for her. For some the crucial moment came suddenly, without warning and when least expected; others saw it approaching, pushing up out of the ground like a weed.
It was an image that would not leave her mind, and so she had finally spoken about it to her mother, holding the idea out in open palms like the egg of an unfamiliar and exotic bird.
And how it had pleased her mother, this simple gift. She sat contemplating her folded hands for a moment, Quaker-gray eyes fixed on the horizon and a tilt to her head that meant her mind was far away, reliving some moment, recalling a phrase read last week or ten years ago. When she spoke, finally, it was not with the quotation Lily expected.
She said, "There are so many choices available to you, such riches for the taking. The very best advice I can give you is very simple. You have heard me say it in different ways, but I'll put it as simply as I can. When it comes time to choose, try to favor the rational over the subjective."
At that Lily had laughed out loud, in surprise and disappointment. Who else had a mother who would say such a thing, and in such a studiously odd way? Other people were satisfied with quoting the bible and old wives' wisdoms, but Lily had a mother who preferred Kant to the Proverbs. Who made decisions with her head when she could, and was convinced that in doing so, her other needs would be satisfied.