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Into the Wilderness Mass Market Paperback – August 3, 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 748 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Wilderness Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this ambitious and vibrant sequel to The Last of the Mohicans, Elizabeth Middleton, a well-educated spinster of 29, journeys from her home in England to her father's lands in upstate New York in 1792. Her widowed father has promised Elizabeth that she can become the schoolteacher for the local children, but on her arrival at Paradise, her father's property, she learns that he has brought her to America under false pretenses. It is his intention to find her a husband, preferably the well-respected physician, Richard Todd.

Though Elizabeth has no intention to marry, she is immediately drawn, not to Richard, but to backwoodsman Nathaniel Bonner, son of Dan'l "Hawkeye" Bonner, hero of the James Fenimore Cooper classic. Nathaniel's connection to the Mohican (Mahican) people is a strong one; he considers Hawkeye's adoptive father, Chingachgook, his grandfather, and his own wife was a Mahican woman who died in childbirth several years earlier.

Elizabeth learns from her father that her inheritance is a part of his lands, a mountain known as Hidden Wolf, to be granted to her when she marries. She soon finds herself caught between Nathaniel and the Mahicans, who want to buy back the mountain from her father as part of their hunting grounds, and Richard, who wants the land for himself and sees Elizabeth as the route to it. Her father, fearful that the sale of Hidden Wolf to the Mahicans will bring more Indians back to Paradise, favors Richard.

Knowing Richard's main interest in her is her land, Elizabeth resists his attentions as she gets to know Nathaniel and his people. The backwoodsmen and their Indian friends accept her and respect her opinions, and she soon finds herself siding with their claim to Hidden Wolf. Meanwhile, the attraction between her and Nathaniel grows into a love that only adds to the conflict between the whites and the Indians.

Into the Wilderness is an intelligent and beautifully written historical novel that draws the reader into another world. Elizabeth and Nathaniel are well-rounded and intelligent characters, and the secondary characters are also strong, three-dimensional, and often entertainingly quirky. Although the book is long--nearly 700 words--tight pacing makes it an entertaining read. Fans of Diana Gabaldon will want to watch for a cameo appearance by one of the characters of Gabaldon's stunning Outlander series. --Lisa Wanttaja --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Epic in ambition, heaving-bosomed and lavish with pioneer life, Donati's debut inevitably invites comparison to the Revolutionary War-era romances of Diana Gabaldon. Claire Fraser, Gabaldon's time-traveling physician heroine, even makes a cameo appearance as a battlefield surgeon. Alas, Donati offers less wit and more cant than her celebrated precursor in a hefty volume that is politically correct to a fare-thee-well, suggesting that the author hoped single-handedly to reverse all race and gender bias. When Elizabeth Middleton, a proud spinster of 29, arrives in upstate Paradise, N.Y., after a sheltered life in England with her titled aunt, she means to live with her father, Alfred, a judge, and her wastrel brother, Julian, and teach school. Her father has a scheme, however. She is to marry Dr. Richard Todd and fulfill both men's ambitions for property. One look at rugged Nathaniel Bonner, a Scotsman raised by Mohawks (they call him Between-Two-Lives), and Lizzie scuttles her feminist disdain for marriage and her father's calculations. Nathaniel wants Judge Middleton's land, too, for his adoptive people?but, unlike Todd, he also wants Lizzie for herself. At first they are an enchanting couple, shooting at bad guys and making athletic love in unlikely woodsy settings. Then the charm falters as their adventures are padded with details that embroider without embellishing. Worse, the characters are color-by-numbers cartoons. Nathaniel is the only thoroughly admirable white male in the huge cast?upbringing having triumphed over blood?and no person of color has flaws. The many subplots are skillfully interwoven, and the author's sheer stamina commands respect; but the novel is complicated, not complex, overstuffed with familiar, featherweight themes. (Aug.) FYI: This novel is Donati's debut under her own name. Homestead, a book of short stories written under the pseudonym Rosina Lippi Green, was published by Delphinium.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1863251790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1863251792
  • ASIN: 0553578529
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (748 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is more than a book that you read, this is a story that you step into and take over. Anyone who loves Diana Gabaldon, historical romance, Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Last of the Mohicans" and/or thrilling adventures will LOVE this novel. I must correct some misinformation that the Amazon reviewer wrote, though. This story is NOT a sequel to James Fennimore Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans". Merely, some of his characters appear in this novel, along with Claire Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Rather, Sara Donati has weaved a story all her own using some familiar faces. If you go to the official "Into the Wilderness" web page you can read yourself that Ms. Donati did NOT write this as a sequel to Cooper's novel. She actually had Michael Mann's beautifully directed "Last of the Mohicans" in mind more, she says. Also, the review contained another error: Nathaniel's first wife was NOT Mohican, she was (in English) a Mohawk. I don't mean to bash anyone's review because I love Amazon but I just didn't want any misinformation about this wonderful novel out either! Enjoy!
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I feel the need to write a review for this book only because I felt some of the previous reviews were very misleading. To start with, I purchased this book for two reasons. (1) I am a fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and this book was heavily recommended by other Outlander fans, and (2) I spent much of my childhood in and around Cooperstown, NY and so am familiar with the setting of the novel. I would normally find it a bit unfair for one author to be compared so heavily to another (especially one like Diana Gabaldon) but feel in this case the comparison is completely justified with Donati having Outlander characters written into her story. My biggest criticism of this book is that it's predictable and yet not really believable. An independent yet beautiful Englishwoman, determined to be a "spinster"? A sexy, rugged, buckskin wearing Indian (albeit white) man? Yawn. And they even start falling for each other the first time they meet.... double yawn.

The characters are flat and poorly developed. So is the plot. So is the dialogue. I've enjoyed historical fiction my whole life and I think I might have enjoyed this book in my early years of high school. Maybe.

I know this review sounds a bit harsh but I'm really disappointed by the fact that so many Outlander fans were enthusiastic about this book. Is there anyone else who enjoyed the subtle complexities of the characters, thoroughly researched historical events, and layered plot lines of the Outlander series? If so, then this book probably isn't for you. If you're just looking for a mindless romance to read at the beach and can overlook the poor character and plot development, then go for it.

And yes, I would have given the same review if I hadn't ever read Diana Gabaldon's novels. The writing just isn't there.

Bottom line: Read some of the one and two star reviews and not just the five star reviews before deciding whether this book is for you.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I know different people get different things from the books they read, but I honestly don't understand how any lover of romantic fiction could dislike this book. True, it's formulaic, but I don't mind a formula if the writing is good, and Donati is very good. She could often bring tears to my eyes, and was just as effective in helping me to see the great wilderness that much of the novel was set in.
From the beginning, I found myself comparing it to Gabaldon's series (probably because of her recommendation on the cover), which could have been very unfair as I think her books are among the best historical fiction I've ever read. But I must say _Into the Wilderness_ comes out well by comparison. I ended up caring as much about Elizabeth and her Nathaniel as I did about Claire and her Jamie, and that says a lot. Sometimes I did feel that Elizabeth and Claire were a lot alike - perhaps almost too much - but I do so enjoy a strong woman character. Elizabeth is definitely "writ large," but I'm glad when I run across a heroic female character for a change who takes her destiny in her own hands.
Since I could not put it down from the time I began reading it, I enthusiastically recommend this novel and I eagerly look forward to the sequel!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
4.5 stars? Really? I'm glad I bought the Kindle edition so I can hit Delete instead of having to take the paperback to Goodwill. This book has taught me that I need to ignore enthusiastic reviews that state "Outlander fans will love this book!" I'm narrowing my focus for books that Outlander fans who don't typically read historical fiction or romances will love. Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy blew me away, and I was very skeptical. I'll keep looking for happy discoveries of that caliber. With its cardboard characters, stilted dialogue and trite characters, Into the Wilderness felt like a paint-by-numbers take on the past. Like the Old Masters of the art world, Gabaldon transforms our view of the world -- the very atmosphere -- around her characters, and every sensory, plot and character detail builds onto a vivid base. Plus every Outlander book is a page-turner and Gabaldon is never smarmily PC. Her books are full of characters who piss, grunt, sweat, get drunk, suffer, love, hate, have orgasms, feast, starve, lie, sacrifice, grieve, murder, rape (not pretty, but part of the human experience, alas) and experience their worlds with all their senses. Give me characters are three-dimensional the minute they show up in the story. Give me narrators whose experiences of the world and reactions to events fascinate, entertain and sometimes horrify us. Give me nuance give me genuine humor, give me added insight into the actual historic events and personages of the past. Show me what it was like to live in the past, warts and all.
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