There are certain series that I read that I could not tell you how I started to read them. There are others that I know exactly how they came to be on my reading radar, and Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness is one of those series. I have posted previously about this (click on the link to above to read how), but to summarise, I read Diana Gabaldon's books, and then was hanging around with fellow Gabaldon fans I found out about several of my now favourite authors - Sharon Kay Penman, Paullina Simons, and Sara Donati included.
Maybe I am getting a bit ahead of myself in talking about The Endless Forest. I read the first four books in this series before I started blogging, and so there is only one review for this series on my blog. So here is a brief run down of the series (please note there may be brief spoilers in the descriptions for the previous books in the series).
Ana recently reviewed Into the Wilderness over at Historical Tapestry.
A lot of this book is set on board a boat, and in Scotland. One of the most important things in this novel is the introduction of the character of Jennet, headstrong and beautiful, who plays an influential role in future books.
This book sees Hannah come to the fore as a character as she tries to find her place in a society where she is not fully white, and not fully Mohican. Her journey towards adulthood is further complicated by the fact that she wants to be a doctor. It is almost unheard of for a young woman to be a doctor, let along a young Native American woman.
Other themes in the book include the smuggling of slaves to freedom in Canada, and facing the dangerous men who chase those slaves, including a face from the past.
Ten years have elapsed between these two books, and there have been many changes, most notably for Hannah. In this book, Hannah is a shadow of her former self, having undergone enormous personal tragedy. It is only in caring for others that she is able to undergo some personal healing, and begins to find purpose and fulfillment.
The war looms large in this book, with Lily's twin Daniel enlisting to fight, only for fate to once again find a Bonner imprisoned in Canada. With the colourful Jennet back in the story, and yet more surprises in store, this is another good read.
The highlight of this book character wise was definitely Ben Savard, a man who knows everyone, who can get things done, and who seems to have the key to Hannah's heart. If there is one thing that I am looking forward to in The Endless Forest it is getting to see Ben again!
This is the one Wilderness book that I have reviewed, so if you are interesting, click on the link to read more.
So there you have it, a brief journey through the Into the Wilderness series by Sara Donati, and my entry for D in the Alphabet in Historical Fiction challenge being hosted by Historical Tapestry. Writing this post has achieved two things. The first is to make me more eager to read The Endless Forest, an experience I am sure will be bitter sweet, and the second is to make me want to reread the series from the beginning!
With a master storyteller’s skill and a historian’s precision, Sara Donati has delighted readers and critics alike with her bestselling novels of the nineteenth-century New York frontier. Now she brings us The Endless Forest, set in the remote village of Paradise, where the Bonner family that readers first met in Into the Wilderness make their home.
The spring of 1824 is a challenging one for the inhabitants of Paradise N.Y. when a flood devastates the village. But for Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner, it’s also a time of reunion as their children return from far-off places: Lily and her husband from Italy, and Martha Kirby, the Bonners’ ward, from Manhattan. Although Lily is nursing her own grief, it is Martha, fleeing a crushing humiliation, who brings with her trouble that will reverberate in all their lives.
In the sudden peace that follows the storm, as families struggle to rebuild, childhood friends Martha and Daniel, Lily’s twin brother, suddenly begin to see each other in a new light. But their growing bond is threatened when Martha’s mother arrives back in Paradise a decade after abandoning her daughter. Jemima Southern is a dangerous schemer who has destroyed more than one family, and her anger touches everyone, as do her secrets. Has Jemima come to claim her daughter–or does she have something else in mind? Whatever happens, Martha and Daniel and all the Bonners must stand united against the threats to both heart and home.
Painful secrets and hidden sorrows, joy, heartbreak, and passion follow the Bonners through a season of change and renewal. A rich, passionate, multilayered portrayal of family strength and endurance in a fascinating place and time, The Endless Forest will be remembered long after the last page is turned.
I can't wait to read it!