When Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine 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 know to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives.
As someone who had a very healthy(!) obsession with The Last of the Mohicans after the movie came out, it felt like Christmas morning when – years ago – my aunt handed me her copy of a book she’d just read: Into the Wilderness.
It was like reading the movie, but the – lengthy – book gave me so many more hours of entertainment. I remember not being able to put it down, to the extent I completely stopped studying for my university exams so that I could finish it!
The good thing about putting a book aside for a few years before picking it up again is that so much of it feels new during a reread. I enjoyed it just as much this time round.
Author Sara Donati has done some incredible research to recreate Georgian-era colonial America, especially when it comes to the Native American characters and cultures. The wild setting means the book is one big adventure from start to finish, an adventure we see through the eyes of the English heroine, for whom the world she now lives in is as new as it is for the reader.