October 06, 2011

Fire Along the Sky by Sara Donati

I couldn't bring myself to like this novel as much as the others in the series. As a bit of a recap, the series starts out with Elizabeth coming to America from England to be a school teacher. A self professed spinster, she is surprised when she falls in love with outdoors-man Nathaniel Bonner. She elopes with him in an effort to not only be with him forever, but also restore property rightfully to the people who own it. The next novel is a bit down the road and she has just given birth to twins. They are kidnapped and Nathaniel and Elizabeth must travel to Scotland to get them back. From here we journey back to America many years down the road. This story is more about Nathaniel's daughter from his first wife and her learning to be a doctor despite her mixed heritage and the fact that she is a woman.

Finally in this novel yet another great many years have passed. Hannah has come back after losing both her child and her husband. Lost in spirit she only lives day to day in repitition. Lily, one of the twins is dealing with her own love life and whether she loves the dashing Scot Simon or the married man in town. She decides to go to Canada to study art for awhile and get away from everything. Meanwhile, her twin Daniel has gone off to join the war and fight. In doing so, he is captured and injured. Hannah and their cousin from Scotland, Jennet sneak in as nursemaids to help care for him and hopefully rescue him. There are some suspicious of them however, so they must tread carefully if they have hopes of saving him and the other prisoners.

My biggest complaint about this book would be the lack of writing about Nathaniel and Elizabeth. This was originally their story and it seems like they have become merely background characters in it. Also, the characters I did care about, like Hannah are not themselves. Granted she goes through a traumatic experience in this book but there was not as much depth to her character as in previous books. The characters the book did focus on, Jennet and Lily, weren't really characters I cared too much about. I would have rather heard more on the characters I was attached to already.

As far as plot goes for this book, it had some interesting ideas but I don't think they were well carried out. What happened in the novel should have been exciting, but instead dragged out rather slowly. I lost interest several times and caught myself skimming the endless "letters" included in the novel.

On another note, I do always enjoy Donati's writing style. Her background as a linguist makes the accents interesting and fairly realistic. She also includes description, but not too much that you tire of reading the book. While she does allude to some risque things in her book, they are not heavily described so even more timid readers can enjoy the book.

I'll continue reading the story of course, but I hope Donati goes back to what drew me to the story in the first place. She has a great set of original characters, and she should use them to her advantage.

Fire Along the Sky
Copyright 2004
608 pages

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