Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness saga...

I posted about this a few days ago. I have been reading Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness, the first book in a saga that is, I believe, six books long.

In general, I really like historical long as it doesn't burden me with factual information. In my opinion, the historical aspect of things should be the backdrop--not the overwhelming plot. Because, let's face it, we all know what happens if someone is writing about a well-known historical event. Instead, the focus should be character development and how the plot (embedded in that historical moment) contributes to character development. How people cope with a moment in history is fascinating.

Now, Into the Wilderness is not a novel without faults. But what novel doesn't have faults? Sometimes it is way too predictable. There is a huge part of me that says this is more romance and adventure than historical fiction (but I am totally okay with that). And, I think that the Elizabeth and Nathaniel, the romantic pairing of protagonists, aren't as well drawn out as they could be at times. I think they jump into their relationship a little too fast. But, again, I COULD CARE LESS. Because you know what? This is a fantastic novel. Good writing. Total escapism. Characters I can respect. And, best of all, a totally sexy male like Nathaniel. :) Always a good thing to include.

VERY simply: Elizabeth moves from England to the newly independent States. She lives with her father (who has been there a long time) and her brother (who moves there from England with her). She is independent and wants to start a school in a community that isn't always the most tolerant. Immediately, she meets Nathaniel Bonner, a man with whom she forms a romantic relationship. They marry, face problems, and have wonderful adventure. Yes, my summary is simple and stupid...but you really should read the book because it is FANTASTIC! (As said in my best Oprah Winfrey "sing song" voice.)

Really, though, so much important happens in this book. Sara Donati takes her plot from the movie version (not the book version) of Last of the Mohicans (Cora, who lives in the film version, is Nathaniel's mother in this book...but in Cooper's tale, Cora dies.) She does everything wonderful that was captured in the film version and places it in her own story. The lush atmosphere, the moral and strong men and women, the racial prejudices, etc.

Also fascinating, is that the author and the book are totally aware of the book's fictional presence and ambition. By revising Cooper in the same way the film version did, Donati inserts herself into a strange literary conversation. Then, in one scene, another fictional character, Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, shows up. Gabaldon and Donati are friends, and, as an interview I read stated, Donati jokingly said that Claire should show up to treat the injured character at a certain battle because Gabaldon had already written a book where Claire was at that battle. Gabaldon said, "Sure." And the rest is history! So, it is a lot of fun to see all kinds of fun with fiction (very meta of her) at work.

Anyway, if you just want a book you can fall into, check out Into the Wilderness. I just bought the second one (Dawn on a Distant Shore) and can't wait to start reading it.

The titles, in order:
Into the Wilderness
Dawn on a Distant Shore
Lake in the Clouds
Fire Along the Sky
Queen of Swords
The Endless Forest

I haven't read all of Gabaldon yet, but hers are great, too!


katie g. said…
Historical fiction is sometimes hard for me to enjoy. I'm reading Alice I Have Been (btw, have you read it?) and the only thing I keep thinking is."did that REALLY happen (sarcasm dripping)?"
Susie said…
Hey, Katie! Yep, I read that one...and another one about Alice and Dodgson...can't remember the title right now. Everyone is always arguing about that relationship. I have seen a lot of his photos of little girls (other than Alice) and they freak me out, I have to say!

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