I first saw the film Last of the Mohicans based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper almost 20 years ago, but still when I think of Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye my heart flutters, just a bit. So when I read that Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati was a sequel to Cooper’s classic, I just couldn’t resist. If you are a serious scholar of American Literature, this may not be for you. If you said “Oh My” out loud at least once while watching Daniel Day Lewis, then get your hands on this book as soon as possible.
Elizabeth Middleton, a British spinster, travels with her brother to join their father in the back woods of late 18th century New York. Her plans to settle there as a teacher are soon called into doubt when her father introduces her to the man he wants her to marry, a local doctor with a mysterious hold over their family’s fortunes. Besides her determination to be a teacher, her father’s plans are also thwarted by Nathaniel Bonner, the son of Hawkeye and Cora, a woodsman with ties to both the white settlers and the Kahnyen’kehaka, or Mohawk, as the whites call them. Elizabeth and Nathaniel start an adventure that will change the entire village as well as their own perceptions of the world.
This story is full of historical detail, descriptions of the beautiful landscape, interesting characters, as well as a timeless love story. It is a delight to watch Elizabeth as she discovers her own strength and her lessons on outback survival skills. Donati also delivers a few “Oh My” scenes along the way.