Skip to main content

Review: Into the Wilderness, by Sara Donati


Pages: 876

Original date of publication: 1998

My edition: 2008 (Delta)

Why I decided to read: found it browsing in Barnes and Noble

How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, April 2010

Set during the years of 1792 and 1973, Into the Wilderness is the story of the love affair between Elizabeth Middleton, an English woman who comes to upstate New York to be a school teacher; and Nathaniel Bonner, son of “Hawkeye” Bonner.

The story takes the reader a lot of places; literally, the characters get lost in the woods at many places and therefore the story seems to chase its own tail sometimes. I loved the idea that the story started out with, but sometimes the author tended to borrow a little too much from the novels of other authors; the story about Claire and Jamie Fraser (from the Outlander series) seemed thrown in there, and not as though it really had any bearing on the rest of the book. I’ve never read James Fenimore Cooper’s book, so I can’t really comment on how close this novel sticks to the original. The author even seemed to channel Jane Austen at one point: “Aunt Merriweather loved children excessively, but Elizabeth thought of her cousin Marianne at an assembly ball, her mouth open in a small moue of disdain as she whispered behind her fan: ‘Imagine Jane Bingley dancing, and so obviously enceinte.’” (p. 555).

There are a lot of really good details of the period and place in which Into the Wilderness is set, but I thought that the characters really needed to be improved upon; they seemed very modern to me. Elizabeth is your typical feisty, independent heroine, and Nathaniel is the strong, silent type, who nonetheless exudes less sex appeal than Jamie Fraser in the Outlander series. The characters in Gabaldon’s series were much more interesting and complex than Sara Donati’s. Elizabeth’s constant harping on the fact that she’s a spinster got very, very annoying after a while, too. The romance side of the story is very heavy at first, which I enjoyed (surprisingly enough for me), but it seemed to drop off a bit towards the middle; and Richard was so much like the bad guy from Outlander that I found myself rolling my eyes in several places while reading Into the Wilderness. I’m sorry I didn’t totally love this book, but other people might; Donati does a great job of describing the places she’s writing about.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…