October 06, 2011

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

This book was suggested to me after reading Outlander. And indeed, this book even has a recommendation from Outlander's author. However, with only a brief blurb about that famous novel's characters, I would say that this novel was more of its own than a tribute to Outlander. That being said it does fit the genre of historic fiction with a bit of romance thrown in.

Elizabeth has recently arrived from England with her brother Julian to live with their father in Paradise, New York. A self described spinster she hopes to set up a school there and teach all children. Her father however, has different plans for her and to settle some debt would like to see her married to the town's doctor.

Soon though she meets the dashing Nathaniel Bonner, a man who is half Indian in nature but good of heart. The mountain that he and his family is currently living on is a source of contention between Elizabeth's father, the town doctor, and the Bonner's as they all want it. After she falls in love with Bonner, they devise a plan to take back the mountain for the rightful owners, the Bonners. This sets loose a stream of complications and fights over the precious territory. Not even Elizabeth's marriage to Bonner can stop events from happening. They all struggle to claim a piece of this majestic mountain.

I thought the writing in this was quite good. Donati is very descriptive and definitely did her homework on languages. It was refreshing to see the native terms used and explained. While it did get wordy in some parts, it was not enough that it couldn't be overlooked. The book was written in the 3rd person. The language, while it could be considered more modern than called for for that period in history was not overly incorrect as to make it completely unbelievable.

One complaint I would have with the book is the use of borrowed characters. Donati blatantly takes and uses a good deal of character's from The Leatherstocking Tales. It just doesn't seem right to use another author's characters even if Fenimore has been deceased for quite some time. She also has cameo appearances from Gabaldon's Outlander but that is a little more acceptable as she asked permission to use them. While the characters are developed satisfactorily, it seems she could have made them unique without borrowing from other authors. Her characters all have their own distinct personalities. While she does tend to make their morals either completely good or completely bad, she does manage to throw in a few shades of grey so no character seems fake.

I did enjoy the book however, and look forward to the next installment. Its a great read with just the right amount of romance and intrigue.

Into the Wilderness
Copyright 1998
876 pages

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