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10 thoughts on “Into the Wilderness

  1. ALPHAreader ALPHAreader says:


    It’s impossible not to compare Donati’s series to Diana Gabaldon’s epic ‘Outlander’. Both series are historical romance, on a grand serial scale, and the marketing of Donati’s series is largely reliant on Diana Gabaldon. Not only does a Gabaldon quote appear on the front-cover of ‘Into the Wilderness’, but Donati thanks Gabaldon in her acknowledgements. And the most obvious comparison is the fact that Donati’s books are a sort of fanfiction crossover to Diana Gabaldon’s famous series. In ‘Into the Wilderness’ characters make brief mention of a Scot turned Indian called Ian, and his ‘white witch’ aunt Claire, and her big red-haired husband. This thin relation to ‘Outlander’ would have guaranteed Gabaldon readers would make the trek to Donati’s series, which is the reason I picked up ‘Into the Wilderness’.

    I am a HUGE Diana Gabaldon fan. ‘Outlander’ is one of my all-time favourite novels, and like so many of her fans I find myself needing a reading supplement to tide me over between Gabaldon’s four year long writing lapses.

    ‘Into the Wilderness’ is perfect for those ‘Outlander’ fans who really got into the series when Jamie and Claire went to live in the American wilderness. When the series took that trajectory Gabaldon introduced Native American’s to the storyline, and if you’re like me you especially loved the character arc of Young Ian who went on to become an Indian warrior. But more than that, the storyline becomes about the frontier life – small, new communities dealing with prejudice, hardships and their own brand of claustrophobia out in the American wilds.


    Donati’s series is a continuation of ‘Last of the Mohicans’, the 1826 story by James Fenimore Cooper. Her series features Nathaniel Bonner, who is Hawkeye (Daniel Day Lewis for those only familiar with the movie adaptation) and Cora’s son. Nathaniel Bonner is the story’s hero... and he’s a fair bit swoon-worthy.

    Nathaniel’s hands tightened on her upper arms until she gave in and looked up, and then he held on to her gaze and refused to let her look away.
    “Listen, now. Richard wants the mountain and he’ll take you to get it.”
    Elizabeth tried to drop her head but he put a finger under her chin to lift it and looked her directly in the eye. “I want you,” he said.
    A warm rush of breath left Elizabeth. She could smell him, the oil on his skin. Leather and sweat and blood.
    “I wake up wanting you and go to sleep wanting you,” Nathaniel murmured, pulling her shoulders up to him so that her head fell back and the arch of her neck rose to meet him. “Elizabeth. I want you as much as I want to breathe, but I need the mountain.”

    Nathaniel’s heroine is Elizabeth Middleton – a 29 year old spinster who never thought she would find love in the wilderness, let alone with an adopted Mohawk. Elizabeth was a wonderful protagonist; she is hot-headed, stubborn and entranced by the Mohawk way of life.


    Nathaniel Bonner is no Jamie Fraser (that would be a tall order) but he is an exciting hero for our heroine. His being Mohawk makes him thrillingly different, and the little bit of mystery to him makes their romance titillating and scorching.

    Elizabeth is likewise no Claire Fraser – but a lot of Claire’s appeal lies in her delivering 19th century humour to the 17th century. Then there’s the fact that Claire is a doctor, and Elizabeth a schoolteacher - so in general Claire has more thrilling storylines from her occupation.
    Diana Gabaldon writes more explicit, steamy sex scenes than Donati. But Donati’s sex scenes are sweet and plentiful, and easily communicate Nathaniel and Elizabeth’s love for one another.


    I think Nathaniel and Elizabeth’s hasty romance is one of the big pro’s of ‘Into the Wilderness’. If you are one of those readers who attempted ‘Outlander’ but weren’t patient enough to trudge through the slow start, then ‘Into the Wilderness’ is probably more your pace. The romance kicks off from the get-go, with Nathaniel and Elizabeth meeting within the first 10 pages and an obvious attraction kindling. From there the central focus of the book is on the Romeo and Juliet romance between Nathaniel and Elizabeth – a white woman and an adopted Indian.

    ‘Outlander’ dealt with Claire’s time-travelling mishap and determination to get back to 1940’s England, as well as Scottish clan politics, and the lead up to Culloden. But ‘Into the Wilderness’ has a much more basic focus. It is a romance, first and foremost. This is about Nathaniel and Elizabeth – everything else is backdrop and obstacles to their happiness.


    Donati’s series has a few major differences with ‘Outlander’; the main one being an absence of fantasy, because there is no ‘time travel’ plot.
    It’s tough to fairly compare ‘Outlander’ and ‘Into the Wilderness’. I think Diana Gabaldon has more writing finesse; her series is more grand-scale epic and she revels in a slow-as-molasses storytelling that lets layers unfold, cliff-hangers erupt and characters arcs naturally progress. Gabaldon also has a very distinct and wonderful voice – even the dullest passages (like Claire’s medicinal descriptions) are riveting when written in her succulent, lyrical prose.

    Donati also has a beautiful writing style – not as consistently breathtaking as Gabaldon’s, but quite a few lines and paragraphs of Donati’s really struck me. Some of her scenes read like snapshots of a moment, so vivid and colourful that they bear re-reading;

    They stood leaning toward each other across the awkward expanse of their snowshoes, joined like a wishbone by the soft suckling of mouths.

    Reading ‘Into the Wilderness’ I started to think that Diana Gabaldon and Sara Donati have very different strengths and weaknesses – and it often occurred to me that one’s faults was the other’s forte.


    I think Diana Gabaldon is much more adept at writing dialogue than Sara Donati. Gabaldon’s characters speak into your ear, so believable are their speeches – especially when she is putting weasel words and round-about talk into their mouths. Jamie Fraser is the perfect example of her cleverness with dialect – the way Jamie’s words change depending on his audience, or his cloak and dagger speeches.

    In ‘Into the Wilderness’ I often thought that characters weren’t very convincing in their diatribes. It was a case of people talking too directly and succinctly, getting their complicated messages across with little misunderstanding. Like when Nathaniel Bonner talks to Elizabeth about his deceased wife, Sarah. Much was made of the fact that Nathaniel felt uncomfortable talking about Sarah, but when the time came I found his words flowed so easily and revealed his hidden depth of feeling. It was at those times when I think Chekhov’s idiom of ‘leave them cold’ could have worked better, if Donati had left some motivations unsaid.


    I think Sara Donati is better at writing home life scenes. A lot of the story takes place on ‘Lake in the Clouds’ and ‘Hidden Wolf’ mountain – there was a very good chance that Donati writing many domestic scenes of wedded bliss could have been repetitive and dull. But she writes so thoroughly and fascinatingly about Mohawk life and Elizabeth’s observations of it that I was happy to meander along with the more sedate scenes of domestication.

    In contrast; in Diana Gabaldon’s books I am never totally easy with domestic scenes – whether they be on the mountain or Lallybroch. I think it’s because Gabaldon is so adept at writing action and heart-palpitating plot that anything slower is sometimes frustrating to trudge through. Then there is the fact that I know any slow scenes of domesticated bliss will be short-lived for Jamie and Claire, and when they are idle at Lallybroch I am constantly on-edge for the next disaster.


    Diana Gabaldon is, overall, more ruthless when it comes to storyline. I found in ‘Into the Wilderness’ that the overall plot was a little hazy. The first-half of the book sets Dr. Richard Todd up as Nathaniel and Elizabeth’s adversary. But Todd isn’t much of a ‘villain’, if he’s one at all. He’s all shades of grey and actually fairly easy to empathize with. Whereas in ‘Outlander’ Black Jack Randall is a truly masochistic villain – he is a very clear bad guy to Jamie Fraser’s good guy. And the British Dragoons against Scottish clans act as another black/white tale.

    At the end of ‘Into the Wilderness’ I really couldn’t decide if there was any particular storyline – or if it was just a matter of character’s reacting to situations instead of acting. Even when the second-half of the book turns more inward and sets up the racist townsfolk as the new threat to the Bonner clan, I never really found that to be a substantial plot. Mostly because the stakes were never very high – I never once doubted that all would finish in a happy ending for Nathaniel and Elizabeth. In contrast Diana Gabaldon had a very helter-skelter plot, clear good guys and bad guys and high stakes to get caught up in.

    Diana Gabaldon is especially ruthless when it comes to story because she isn’t afraid to put character’s in terrible situations, let the good guys lose once in a while and let the bad guys triumph occasionally. But Donati seems more inclined to take the easy way. I don’t want to give anything away, but events turn to Nathaniel and Elizabeth’s favour quite easily and neatly.


    I have fallen in love with Donati’s world, and Nathaniel and Elizabeth’s saga. I especially loved the book because I can see that Donati has quite a story arc in store – currently there are 6 books in the series, all of them 800+ pages long. For an Outlander lover like me, the prospect of discovering a new saga to sink my teeth into is enough to give me goosebumps. Especially when I consider how long it takes Ms. Gabaldon to pump out a new ‘Outlander’ instalment (4-5 years!) – I now have Donati to tide me over in the meantime, and fill my epic historical romance craving. Hoorah! I am especially thrilled at the prospect of reading more little mentions and side-notes about Gabaldon’s characters who cross-over into Donati’s world.

    If you’re an Outlander/Diana Gabaldon fan, you should definitely give Sara Donati a read. Diana Gabaldon is still my favourite, and nothing can rival ‘Outlander’ (Nathaniel Bonner is no Jamie Fraser, though a good contender) but ‘Into the Wilderness’ is in the same Outlandish vain and just as wonderfully grand-scale to get swept away by.

  2. Lisa (Harmonybites) Lisa (Harmonybites) says:

    The book had blurbs praising it from romance writers Diana Gabaldon and Amanda Quick and the trade magazine Romantic Times. Not a good sign I'd like it, if this was being marketed to those who frequent the romance aisle. The prose was more readable than most books I've read marketed as romance, even if hardly stellar, but what killed this novel for me is how it takes the historical out of historical fiction.

    This is set in the New York frontier in 1793, dealing with the twenty-nine-year-old Elizabeth Middleton. Raised in England, she's come to America hoping to set up a school. New York is my own state, and the idea of a novel set there during that period intrigued me. However, two examples of a lack of grounding in the period stood out to me before the fifty page mark. The first is when a woman talks about how they could use a schoolmarm. The fact is during the colonial and Federal period, school teachers in America were overwhelmingly under twenty-five, White and male. Not only wouldn't a person assume a teacher would be female--the feminization of the profession didn't begin until late in the 19th Century--but Miss Middleton would invariably have stirred up opposition because of her gender. Back then women weren't thought to have the authority or strength to control a classroom with children older than eight. Also, at a certain point, Nathaniel Bonner, (seemingly patterned after Cooper's Nathaniel Bumppo) calls Elizabeth a bluestocking, and she doesn't know what that is. The term was common in Britain in the period. I've seen people poo poo this kind of criticism. It's just fiction they cry. Nonsense! Part of successful fiction is that you don't jar a reader out of their willing suspension of disbelief; and the appeal of historical fiction is the sense you're entering into another time and place, not reading about modern people in costumes.

    This isn't to say some allowances shouldn't be made and some mistakes forgiven. Elizabeth Middleton from the beginning struck me as far too modern in her sensibilities--she doesn't seem to care about class or race and wants to keep her independence and remain unmarried. I'm willing to allow that; her mother was said to be a Quaker, so a reader can allow Elizabeth some nonconformity, but I could never settle in comfortably into a belief in the tale, which quickly shaped up to be a rather formulaic romance riffing off Last of the Mohicans with guest starring appearances from Jamie and Clare of Outlander and cameo roles from Jane Austen's novels. (Poor Jane Bingley, forced to appear in such a tawdry bodice-ripper.) This novel reads like really, really bad fan fiction, one that impoverishes rather than enriches the originals.

  3. Bark Bark says:

    I read this as an unabridged audiobook and it seemed like tape one consisted of author thank you's and an unending listing of family trees involved in her story and I assumed I'd be in way over my head with this one. I was right.

    Elizabeth is a 29 year old spinster who wants nothing more than her independence and to teach young children. With this in mind, she sets out into the wilderness that is Paradise to join her father and brother. What she doesn't know is that her father who faces financial ruin has arranged to marry her off to the local doctor with the promise of bequeathing half of his large land holdings to her. She's livid and attracted to a man most unsuitable . . .

    Nathaniel, who was raised by Native Americans is just as attracted to Elizabeth. Her tart tongue and independence intrigue him as much as her looks but he knows their attraction can only lead to pain. When Elizabeth discovers her father's plan she's already fallen deeply in love with Nathaniel and decides to concoct a little deception of her own which will enable Nathaniel to have the land he so longs to make his own. But things aren't going to go smoothly for all involved as the doctor is determined to have the land no matter the cost . . .

    This is a fictional story filled with historical information and action-adventure along the lines of Diana Gabaldon (minus the paranormal bits). It's long but interesting and the characters leap off the page but somewhere midpoint this book just didn't resonate with me the way I expected it to.

    It was readable but not exceptionally gripping. The love story didn't touch me emotionally and it's just too darn long. I appreciate the attention to detail but without the characters engaging me it became an almost tedious read. The two are very realistically painted but for some reason are leaving me cold. If I had read this in book form I probably would have put it down midpoint and never picked it up again.

  4. MoodyJess MoodyJess says:

    I feel like I've just been on a Walk-a-bout and returned a different person after one of the most compelling reads of 2017 for me. INTO THE WILDERNESS by Sara Donati has been an absolute pleasure to read and a experience I won't soon forget.

    I love getting recommendations from books friends. They seem to always know what I need when I need it-and the absolute joy, heartache, sorrow, love and hate emotions I've just gone through while reading this exceptional book is enough to last me a life time. I can't fault them though. They know me well and knew I'd fall in love with both Nathaniel and Elizabeth.

    So much detail. Everywhere. From the brilliant characters, sub and main, from the beautiful descriptions of the gorgeous landscapes to the heightened emotional state of so many situations, I'm spent and obsessed. The layers of Elizabeth were something to behold. She's stubborn and lovely, fearsome and brilliant, daring and so brave. I simply adored her and her tenacity. Nathaniel is one of a kind. A character I'll soon never forget. Loyal, manly, strong and lethal-I've got one hell of a hero worship thing going on for him and I can't seem to get enough. Robbie, Bears, Hannah and all of the characters that made this journey come to fruition has been amazingly captured by Donati, she is special and I'm sorry this has been a first for me from her but I can assure you all, won't be my last.

    I cannot capture all of the awesome I just experienced. I feel like I've been torn apart and put back whole. Richard Todd, you better keep your word or you'll have me to answer to. I loath that man-despite any redemption he may have exuded towards the end.

    I wish there had been an epilogue, I fee like there is so much more to see and read and I'm struggling with how long I have to wait until I find out what Nathaniel and Elizabeth get up to next. So much unfinished business, but it was a good place for a break.

    Im keen to read further and follow the path anywhere Donati will take me.

  5. Carolyn F. Carolyn F. says:

    I enjoyed this book a lot. I made the mistake of listening to someone say it was in the same vein as Outlander, which kind of ruined it for me at first. But then when I just sat back and enjoyed the book for itself, I really enjoyed it a lot.

    PS How many times can I use enjoyed in this review - apparently 3.

  6. Belinda Belinda says:

    For any Diana Gabaldon fans, rejoice, my friends, rejoice!

    I know you've waited a long time for more Claire and Jamie, with *years* between sequals. You can bridge that horrible gap with my new find, Sara Donati.

    OK, I admit, I've only read the first book. But it had that headstrong female character, the dangerous-but-charming love interest, the chorus of earthy and interesting background characters. All are positioned against a distant time in history where life was hard (really hard, dammit, no hot water!).

    I zipped through this book in four days, ignoring laundry, dishes and my spouse (I did feed the kids) because the story was so darn engrossing. I actually had a pang when I finished this book -- or an urge to get down to the bookstore or library to get the next book.

    Nevertheless, there are sequals! And a quick view of the reviews seems they're not bad.

    So, while you're waiting for the next installment of Sasenatch and the Bonny Lad from Scotland, go get this book. It will definitely tide you over. And then some.

  7. B the BookAddict B the BookAddict says:

    No review, I'm too busy getting stuck into book #2 of the series. 4★

  8. Camie Camie says:

    A big ( about 700 pages) historical fiction saga which combines the Mohawk Indian tribe from James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans and late 18th century English settlers in the wilderness of New York. Also takes on a decidedly Diana Gabaldon ( Outlander series) flare with the addition of the romance between Elizabeth, the old maid schoolmarm and daughter of Judge Middleton the areas biggest landowner, and Nathaniel Bonner, the ruggedly handsome ( of course) frontiersman who though white was raised by the Mohawk. This is the first book of The Wilderness Series by Sara Donati (The Guilded Hour) who really has a knack for writing the type of books you can really crawl into and just disappear for awhile. 4 stars - Very enjoyable Buddy read KUYH !!

  9. Lucia Lucia says:

    With my new found love for historical fiction (thanks to Outlander) and with my love for Last of Mohicans movie, it was just question of time when I would read this book. And I am glad that I chose it for my summer read. I got somehow lighter read than I expected but I enjoyed it nonetheless and I definitely plan to read next instalment!

  10. Hollis Hollis says:

    When I'm dying, when I close my eyes at the last, it'll be your face I see, right at this moment.

    I have a head, heart & stomach (for real, I can't be the only one who feels emotions in her gut!) full of feels right now. Not to mention a phone full of screenshots. And yet I do not know where to begin when it comes to writing this review. Spoiler : this is going to suck, just read the book.

    I am so sorry to disappoint.
    On the contrary. I ain't the least bit disappointed.

    INTO THE WILDERNESS consumed me for more days than I've committed to any book in a long long time. It was part wanting to savour it, part the epic length, part not wanting to fuck up a buddy read (oops, I did it again anyway) and finally just part of the due this book deserves to be given.

    Pretty women ain't so very rare. But a pretty woman who stands up to a room full of strange men and defends herself -- that's something else.

    There are a lot of comparisons made to OUTLANDER and I'll say this much : there's reason for that. Not only because of the length, the epic-style kind of romance, but.. another reason I won't disclose. I can't say it's better or worse than the other book but in some ways there's more to love here. At least as far as one character. Our lead lady. While Claire is fierce and wonderful, don't get me wrong, she's also a woman out of time. Donati's Elizabeth is fierce and wonderful and forward thinking and for a woman of her time that's something else indeed.

    I came here to be free of the restrictions I lived under in England. If there is no freedom for me here, there is no reason to stay.

    But there's also Nathaniel, our swoony hero in the buckskin, who sees something in the twenty-nine year old spinster no one else has. I loved how compelling their complex connection was; how they were drawn to each other despite all the odds, and everything they endured, fought against, and fought for. And this is only book one of a fucking six book series. Aaaaaa.

    Nathaniel saw something he had forgotten about women : that words can do the same work as hands and mouths and a man's body, that she was as undone by his admission of desire as she had been by his kiss.

    There is a host of characters, both good and bad, and a bevy of situations, circumstances, celebrations, deaths, conspiracies.. like, I can't even get started because otherwise I'll be here all day. There were certain people I disliked from the start and never grew to love, some who surprised me along the way, and others I can't wait to see more of in the coming books. There's so much here and the romance is really only the beginning (even if it is something else). The clash of culture and race -- made even more interesting as a result of our hero being a white man raised by a Mohawk clan, and all the complexities surrounding his own struggle of finding his place and identity over the years -- in addition to a village full of personalities, beliefs and greed, result in this book being quite the melting pot of adventure, thrills, and agonies. But it's also wonderful, funny, sexy, surprising and touching.

    Grandmother doesn't think much of your kind of schooling. She says the white men don't seem any the smarter for it.

    The wilderness of the setting is rich, the varied people (not just white and red but every colour) are vibrant, the culture is compelling, the love undeniable. INTO THE WILDERNESS will make you feel all of the things. This book dogged me for days and it's still in my thoughts hours after finishing. This is a series I'm going to savour the same way I savoured book one. I can't jump right in to the next, I need to break these reads up a bit, but I can't wait to come back to this world.

    Thank you Micky for the recommendation aka the browbeating to join you on this read. Peer pressure has rarely tasted this good.

    4.75 little girls are kept away from the things that would make them strong, in the name of protection and propriety. I came here hoping to change that stars

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Into the Wilderness [Epub] ❧ Into the Wilderness By Sara Donati –
Weaving a tapestry of fact and fiction, Sara Donati’s epic novel sweeps us into another time and place…and into a breathtaking story of love and survival in a land of savage beauty

Into the PDF \ of love and survival in a land of savage beautyIt is December ofElizabeth Middleton leaves her comfortable English estate to join her family in a remote New York mountain village It is a place unlike any she has ever experienced And she meets a man unlike any she has ever encountered—a white man dressed like a Native American: Nathaniel Bonner, known to the Mohawk people as BetweenTwoLives Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village, Elizabeth soon finds herself locked in conflict with the local slave owners as well as with her own family Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portait of an emerging America.