Weaving a vibrant tapestry of fact and fiction,Into the Wildernesss weeps us into another time and place...and into the heart of a forbidden, incandescent affair between a spinster Englishwoman and an American frontiersman. Here is an epic of romance and history that will captivate readers from the very first page. When Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, leaves her Aunt Merriweather's comfortable English estate to join her father and brother in the remote mountain village of Paradise on the edge of the New York wilderness, she does so with a strong will and an unwavering purpose: to teach school. It is December of 1792 when she arrives in a cold climate unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man different from any she has ever encountered--a white man dressed like a Native American, tall and lean and unsettling in his blunt honesty. He is Nathaniel Bonner, also known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village--white, black, and Native American--Elizabeth soon finds herself at odds with local slave owners.
Epic in ambition, heaving-bosomed and lavish with pioneer life, Donati's debut inevitably invites comparison to the Revolutionary War-era romances of Diana Gabaldon. Claire Fraser, Gabaldon's time-traveling physician heroine, even makes a cameo appearance as a battlefield surgeon. Alas, Donati offers less wit and more cant than her celebrated precursor in a hefty volume that is politically correct to a fare-thee-well, suggesting that the author hoped single-handedly to reverse all race and gender bias. When Elizabeth Middleton, a proud spinster of 29, arrives in upstate Paradise, N.Y., after a sheltered life in England with her titled aunt, she means to live with her father, Alfred, a judge, and her wastrel brother, Julian, and teach school. Her father has a scheme, however. She is to marry Dr. Richard Todd and fulfill both men's ambitions for property. One look at rugged Nathaniel Bonner, a Scotsman raised by Mohawks (they call him Between-Two-Lives), and Lizzie scuttles her feminist disdain for marriage and her father's calculations. Nathaniel wants Judge Middleton's land, too, for his adoptive people�but, unlike Todd, he also wants Lizzie for herself. At first they are an enchanting couple, shooting at bad guys and making athletic love in unlikely woodsy settings. Then the charm falters as their adventures are padded with details that embroider without embellishing. Worse, the characters are color-by-numbers cartoons. Nathaniel is the only thoroughly admirable white male in the huge cast�upbringing having triumphed over blood�and no person of color has flaws. The many subplots are skillfully interwoven, and the author's sheer stamina commands respect; but the novel is complicated, not complex, overstuffed with familiar, featherweight themes. (Aug.) FYI: This novel is Donati's debut under her own name. Homestead, a book of short stories written under the pseudonym Rosina Lippi Green, was published by Delphinium.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Beautiful Series, Realistic Historical Romance
Posted December 11, 2010 by Carolyn , Brandon, SDLove Elizabeth and Nathaniel - Like Claire and Jamie of Outlander, they're wonderful, strong characters - this is a bit of an easier read than the Outlander series, but stands on it's own as a realistic, passionate story - in a interesting setting with just the right amount of detail. I own this entire series in hardcover and will have to have it on my ereader... for me the only weak book in the series is Queen of Swords - just not crazy about the New Orleans setting for that one, but own it too... all of the books are great reading.... in this age of cookie cutter romance, they stand apart.
2 . Great read on colonial America
Posted December 10, 2010 by dhhunt , SacramentoI love historical fiction. This series is no disappointment. I can disappear from my comfie chair and be transferred to the wilds of the Northeast within a few pages. I'm not a romantic novel enthusiast, and I must say there is a bit more in that respect than I normally enjoy, but the descriptive writing is so well done I can easily read through the romanticism as part of character development without difficulty.
August 02, 1999
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Excerpt from Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
"I have a question for you." "Yes, Mr. Bonner?" She did not raise her head. "Will you please say my name?" he said with an intensity which caused gooseflesh to rise on her arms. She hesitated. "Nathaniel." "Look at me and say my name." Elizabeth looked up slowly. Nathaniel saw in her face an overwhelming confusion. He saw that she had never stood like this with a man, that she had never imagined doing so, and that she was flustered and even a bit frightened, but not unhappy to be here with him. "What did you want to ask me?" "How old are you?" Elizabeth blinked. "Twenty-nine." "You've never been kissed, have you?" The white cloud of his breath reached out to touch her face. His hands jerked at his sides but he kept them where they were. Now she would tell him to mind his own business, and he could put this woman out of his head. "Why?" said Elizabeth, raising her eyes to his with a critical but composed look. "Do you intend to kiss me?" Nathaniel pulled up abruptly and laughed. "The thought crossed my mind." Her eyes narrowed. "Whydo you want to kiss me?" "Well," Nathaniel said, inclining his head. "You seem set on going back to England, and the Mahicans say that you should never return from a journey the same person." "How very thoughtful of you," she said dryly. "Howbenevolent. But please, do not discommode yourself, on my account." She began to turn away, but Nathaniel caught her by the upper arm. "Now I, for one, hope you don't rush off," he said. "But I want to kiss you, either way." "Do you?" she said tersely. "Perhaps I don't want to kiss you." Elizabeth was afraid to look at Nathaniel directly, for how could he not see the doubt on her face, and the curiosity? And what would that mean, to let him know what she really thought, how confusing this all was to her? To tell a man what she was truly thinking--this was a thought more frightening than any kiss could be. "I didn't mean to get you mad," Nathaniel said softly. "What did you mean to do, then? Have some fun at my expense, but not so much that I would actually notice that you were making a fool of me?" "No," he said, and Elizabeth was relieved to see all trace of teasing leave his face. "I'd like to see the man who could make a fool of you. I meant to kiss you, because I wanted to. But if you don't like the idea--" She pulled away from him, her face blazing white. "I never said that. You don't know what I want." Then, finally, she blushed, all her frustration and anger pouring out in pools of color which stained her cheeks bluish-gray in the faint light of the winter moon. "So," Nathaniel said, a hint of his smile returning. "You do want to kiss me." "I want you to stop talking the matter to death," Elizabeth said irritably. "If you hadn't noticed, you are embarrassing me. Perhaps you don't know much about England--I don't know why you should, after all--but let me tell you that there's a reason I am twenty-nine years of age and unkissed, and that is, very simply, that well-bred ladies of good family don't let men kiss them. Even if they want to be kissed, and women do want to be kissed on occasion, you realize, although we aren't supposed to admit that. To be perfectly honest with you"--she drew a shaky breath--"I can't claim that anyone has ever shown an interest in me at home--at least, not enough interest that this particular issue ever raised its head. Now." She looked up at him with her mouth firmly set. Her voice had lowered to a hoarse whisper, but still she looked a