• Into the Wilderness

  • A Novel
  • By: Sara Donati
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading
  • Length: 30 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (4,516 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Weaving a vibrant tapestry of fact and fiction, Into the Wilderness sweeps us into another time and place...and into the heart of a forbidden, incandescent affair between a spinster Englishwoman and an American frontiersman. Here is an epic of romance and history that will captivate listeners from the start.  

When Elizabeth Middleton, 29 years old and unmarried, leaves her Aunt Merriweather's comfortable English estate to join her father and brother in the remote mountain village of Paradise on the edge of the New York wilderness, she does so with a strong will and an unwavering purpose: to teach school.

It is December of 1792 when she arrives in a cold climate unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man different from any she has ever encountered - a white man dressed like a Native American, tall and lean and unsettling in his blunt honesty. He is Nathaniel Bonner, also known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives.

Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village - White, Black, and Native American - Elizabeth soon finds herself at odds with local slave owners. Much to her surprise, she clashes with her own father as well. Financially strapped, Judge Middleton has plans for his daughter - betrothal to local doctor Richard Todd. An alliance with Todd could extract her father from ruin but would call into question the ownership of Hidden Wolf, the mountain where Nathaniel, his father, and a small group of Native Americans live and hunt.

As Judge Middleton brings pressure to bear against his daughter, she is faced with a choice between compliance and deception, a flight into the forest, and a desire that will bend her hard will to compromise and transformation.

Elizabeth's ultimate destiny, here in the heart of the wilderness, lies in the odyssey to come: trials of faith and flesh, and passion born amid Nathaniel's own secrets and divided soul.

Interweaving the fate of the remnants of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati's compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.

©2009 Sara Donati (P)2009 Random House

Critic Reviews

"My favorite kind of book is the sort you live in, rather than read. Into the Wilderness is one of those rare stories that let you breathe the air of another time, and leave your footprints on the snow of a wild, strange place. I can think of no better adventure than to explore the wilderness in the company of such engaging and independent lovers as Elizabeth and her Nathaniel." (Diana Gabaldon)
"Each time you open a book you hope to discover a story that will make your spirit of adventure and romance sing. This book delivers on that promise." (Amanda Quick)

What listeners say about Into the Wilderness

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Only Worth Reading for Background on Future Books

I tried to read this book a few years ago. I quit because it seemed to be so unoriginal and blatantly commercial. The author borrowed one of her primary characters from James Fenimore Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans" and also brought in characters from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, all of which said to me that the author was so unsure of her own ability to write a book people would like on its own merits, that she resorted to gimmicks to attract an audience. And as I read a little about the author, including her own words from her own website, I read nothing that convinced me her book was nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on others success. She seemed to have a real chip on her shoulder about other's success.

However, several months ago I purchased "The Gilded Hour" because the time period attracted me and I failed to note the author until I'd already purchased. I read it anyway and was pleasantly surprised. This made me decide to give her earlier series another chance. Especially because "The Gilded Hour" follows a later generation of the characters in "Into the Wilderness."

This time I made it through. "Into the Wilderness" is not a great book. There are moments when it is good. Much of the storyline makes little sense or is implausible at best, and her historical research is weak. Donati tries too hard in this book. And she fails to follow the one rule that is critical when you are at the beginning of a long book that is part of a longer series following the same characters. You have to take the time for the reader to get to know the characters as themselves. And you can't do this when they are thrown from crisis to crisis and constantly in danger from somewhere. There needs to be some downtime, where they lead normal lives without catastrophe hovering about. My guess is it is hard to write that kind of scene into a book and make it interesting to the reader, but good writers of sagas do it well. Donati did not.

Nevertheless, there was something appealing about the book and I not only finished it, I moved on and read the rest of the series. I was very happy that I did.

37 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful surprise

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book more than I expected to. People said if you like Outlander then you'll like this, but I'm not sure why because it's totally different. I guess maybe because its a well written historical fiction?

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the rapidity of the story so you werent sitting hanging to any storyline too long. I hate when a book leaves you wondering for endless chapters. it just kept moving while still keeping the integrity of the whole story.

Have you listened to any of Kate Reading’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I have not. She did a great job though. Any time I listen to a new narrator, I right off think they are horrible just because they are unfamiliar, then as we move forward, I become accustomed to their voice. No narrator is perfect, and it gets kind if annoying reading reviews where people dissect one.

Any additional comments?

Loved the length. I really appreciate being able to get the most bang for my buck. Loved this book amd look forward to the entire series.

42 people found this helpful

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I should have read the reviews

This is a historical ROMANCE novel not what I call true historical fiction. I hated this book BUT forced myself to finish it hoping every time I turned it on to listen it would get better - it didn’t. The references to the Outlander books is a cheap and easy way to try and get us Outlander fans to read this book. It wasn’t appreciated.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good writing-but it dragged on FOREVER.

The narrator was excellent, the premise good, the story telling was engaging enough. However, the author dragged out the story for YEARS of the characters lives, and it felt like it. if the book were 1/3 the length it could have told the same story and been much more satisfying.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Into the Wilderness

I have listened to 216 books since becoming a member in 2001. Out of the Wilderness is at the top of my list. The production and narration is outstanding of this very well written book, looking forward to the next in the series.

44 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Tolerable story, skip the narrator

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I was frequently challenged to figure out whether I was irritated more by the writing or the narrating. The story was all right, but I wouldn't recommend this audio book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Into the Wilderness?

When characters from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander appeared.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Horrendous accents. Intonations that didn't quite work. It was frequently painful.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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So much for "if you like Gabaldon"

I kept getting recommendations for this book saying "if you liked the Outlander series, you'll like this!" No. This book is a rather juvenile attempt at being real historical fiction that gets tangled up in its Mary Sue's ripped bodice. I kept hoping it would get better. There was one part of about 3 hours where they were actually in the wilderness that was interesting, but on a whole that wasn't enough to save it. The only genuinely shocking bit was when Gabaldon's characters briefly popped up in a bit of back story. It was confirmation to what I had suspected the whole time: someone trying to imitate Gabaldon and falling way short of the mark. Their appearance solidified my decision on the book reminding me (painfully) of everything Donati's characters weren't: interesting, compelling, complicated, and imperfect. What they are is flat. Reviews I read before spending my precious one credit a month indicated that this series started rpugh and the author grew into it. I hope that is the case, but I will not be sticking around long enough to see if it's true.

77 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

GREAT READ!

I LOVED THIS BOOK ! As one review stated, it reminds me of the Outlander series. I wonder how many noticed that Claire and James Fraser (from the Outlander series) were mentioned in "Into the Wilderness" story. I loved that little sneaky item. The story drags you into the story and you feel like you know each person personally. I vowed never to spend 2 credits on a book, but I am so glad that I did for this one......it was well worth it. I can't wait to continue on with the series. Thank you Sara Donati.........keep 'em coming !

19 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic Book

It was a wonderful escape and offered a very accurate and adventurous perspective of fiction and history, mixed together in an articulate and lovely manner. While there are some minor grammatical errors I noticed, this didn't stop me from really liking the book.
I am also an Outlander fan, which is why I tried this book out. It's not as nuanced as Diana's writing, (in my opinion), but if you're looking for a pleasurable and relaxing listen, I'd recommend this. It's very easy, makes you think about history, and extends a voice to First Nations' way of life too. I try not to directly compare authors or their books, as that can be detrimental to the experience of reading said book.
Basically, you'll either like this and read it through, or you'll not care for it, and put it aside. For some readers, it will depend on how much comparison you weigh it with Outlander. In my personal opinion, Diana's books are such saga-like, rare, unique, and rich pieces of literature, that it's hard to compare most books in the similar genre to them. Whatever you choose, I wish you happiness in your listening!

Kate Reading was outstanding with the delivery of the story

12 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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On the fence with this one...

I had a harder time than usual bonding with the characters In this novel. I think in creating Elizabeth to be a strong minded, independent woman, the author did not achieve the warmth and tenderness that would have made her more endearing to the reader. Nathanial often came across as angry and cold. I kept waiting for him to show more affection toward his daughter, Hannah. There were moments where I saw a glimpse and hoped the author would develop more growth in the leads. I feel that the author did a better job developing the personalities of the villains. I also found myself frustrated with the length of the book. It took so long to get to the point. I think the story could have been told in 15 hours, not 20+. All of this being said, it was decent enough for me to hang in there and finish, but then again, I'm stubborn and don't like to give up. The ending was also frustrating. I'm sure it's because the author was planning another book in the series. Will I pick that book up? A weak, maybe....

3 people found this helpful

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  • R Griffiths
  • 08-04-22

At Last!!!

I have loved this book for years and had to be content with the printed version and a terribly abridged cassette. It is such a treat to have full length audio versions of this and the following books in the series, and I feel like Christmas has come early. Kate Reading is a superb narrator.
These days so few writers tell real stories and fewer write at length. The length of this book allows the reader/listener to get to know the characters and to become immersed in the story and the period. Sara Donati is a brilliant story teller and has created some wonderful characters. I especially love Robbie, Curiosity, Hannah and Otter in addition to the main players. I appreciate the nod to James Fennimore Cooper and the brief mention of characters from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and for me Sara Donati's books outshine the latter considerably.
Thank you Audible for giving us this series.

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  • lindsey r.
  • 07-14-22

Love

Read this before, and just wanted to listen to it this time, excited for the rest of the series.