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Into the Wilderness

(Wilderness #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  39,294 ratings  ·  2,517 reviews
Weaving a tapestry of fact and fiction, Sara Donati's epic novel sweeps us into another time and place...and into the heart of a forbidden affair between an unconventional Englishwoman and an American frontiersman.

It is December of 1792. Elizabeth Middleton leaves her comfortable English estate to join her family in a remote New York mountain village. It is a place unlike
Paperback, 876 pages
Published August 3rd 1999 by Bantam Books (first published August 3rd 1998)
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Cameron It took me two books into this series to figure out what was bothering me. You know how, even though you love all the characters in Outlander, you jus…moreIt took me two books into this series to figure out what was bothering me. You know how, even though you love all the characters in Outlander, you just can't wait for Jamie and Claire to be alone? Just to eavesdrop on their coversations, get a glimpse into their thoughts, and by golly, to be a fly on the wall when they make love? Donati's are like the Outlander series, except without two such compelling central characters. I love the history, the world building, all of the "secondary" characters like Curiosity and Hannah, Aunt Merriwether and Runs From Bears. But the minute Elizabeth starts talking or thinking, or God forbid, interacting with Nathaniel, I speed-read ahead. Both are so wooden and so devoid of any nuance, shading or humor that it's impossible to root for them and difficult just to go along for the ride. But the plot and the rest of the characters keep me hooked. So it's a bumpy ride. You may find them less boring or off-putting than I do, and if so, Enjoy!(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Sara Donati Yes, Diana formally gave permission for the brief mention of her characters.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  39,294 ratings  ·  2,517 reviews

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Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it

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 famo
Lisa (Harmonybites)
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 El
Jan 12, 2010 rated it liked it
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 financi
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Carolyn F.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm perplexed as to why this series, and this book in particular, are compared to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I'm a big Outlander fan, and while I feel her most recent books are somewhat self-indulgent and episodic, I still like them. They are well-written and despite being long-winded and sometimes far-fetched, they are usually entertaining. Not so with this book.

The author had a genius idea to write the sequel to the The Last of the Mohicans movie, which is still one of my favorite movies. It
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
B the BookAddict
Apr 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: hist-fiction

No review, I'm too busy getting stuck into book #2 of the series. 4★
h o l l i s
"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."

Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 w ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The future is mysterious and frightening to you now, but in the end all will be well.

I have no idea what it was about this book that sucked me in like a black hole, but once I got started on it, I could not seem to put it down. My only complaints were that it was too long... yes, 876 pages, (and that equals greater than 30 hours of audiobook time), and I had a little issue with the ending. With all of pages and pages of text, I felt like there were too many things unfinished at the en
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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! ...more
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Into the Wilderness left me very underwhelmed. It had all the elements of a story that I would typically like: romance, nature/wilderness, drama, etc. But, the writing was just off. Here is an example of a clunky passage (two characters are making out):

"He realized that she was trying to talk to him, and he came back to himself a little. His name. She was summoning him to her. He drew it from her mouth, swallowed it whole. Gave her back her own name, fed it to her with his tongue."

It brings ima
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've had this book for years, but was always reluctant both to crack it open and to give it away. Until I decided to do both: read it first and give it away after. The result is, I'm keeping the book till it rots.

Ironic, isn't it?

Looking back, I can pinpoint my wariness as stemming from two things: for one, that it was compared to, linked to, and said to be copied from "Outlander" and heartily recommended for and by fans of Gabaldon. And the thing is, I disliked that book, so the surest way to g
Linda C
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Sadly, this book didn't really capture my interest, especially since I had hear such good things about it. It was closer to a bodice-ripper than it is to Outlander.

It was entertaining enough, and I may, at some point, pick up the next one in the series, but the central plot, i.e. the romance between Nathaniel and Elizabeth, didn't grab me. I just didn't get it. While there were moments that Nathaniel was rather sexy (the long dark hair, the silver earring), at the end of the day, he was a backwo
I have read all of the books in this series. I have also read all of the outlander series. Now for me the outlander series began to fall flat especially in the last few books. However every single book in this series has held my attention and earned my love and respect. By the time you read all these books you will feel like you are reading your own family history, these characters, Elizabeth, nathaniel, Hannah, Lilly, Daniel, curiosity will move into your heart and will never leave. I have read ...more
I have really enjoyed the first book in the series entitled Into the Wilderness. The basic storyline has been well-researched and there is great depth in the character development. It is refreshing to have the main character depicted for her intelligence, her analytical skills, and her strong resourcefulness. This is not your typical historical fiction with bodice ripping and muscular physiques on every page. Elizabeth is even deemed a spinster, being a woman in her late twenties, not a robust 1 ...more
The Colonial
Historical novelist Sara Donati begins this fictional chronicle in the year 1792, with Washington steering the young American Republic, who’s recent policy focuses have turned to Native American diplomacy and territory rights. We meet the budding schoolteacher Elizabeth Middleton, recently emigrated from England who has just arrived at her Father’s estate only to find her arrogant brother quarreling with what look like two Native Americans—the witty bachelor Nathaniel Bonner, and his father Hawk ...more
Feb 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Something must be very wrong with me since I did not LOVE this novel despite all its 5 star reviews. I am a huge fan of the Outlander series and pretty much anything Diana Gabaldon decides to write so I read Into the Wilderness because of her praise and her fans' praise for this novel. And I have to say that it was just OKAY; it was not bad. The author definitely put a good amount of research into the story but it failed complexity. The characters were not as developed as they could have been an ...more
This won't be a long review but I do want to say how much I enjoyed this book.
I am not into Frontier romances and was reading this for my Romance Across the Ages Challenge, but I am very glad I did read it.

The author does a fabulous job of recreating that time and place in America's history, and while the lack of education, the racism and the ruggedness of the characters often got to me, it somehow fitted in so well with the theme, I soon let it go. (I did find the character of Julian, the hero
Bookphenomena (Micky)
4.5 stars audio review

I file this mentally under 'epic reads' for so many reasons. The two lead characters, Elizabeth and Nathaniel are ones to measure up to. The frontier setting was magical, rough and required hardiness. The description was superb, even though this is not country I can identify with, I think I conjured a good version in my imagination, in people, clothing, wilderness, animals, smells and culture.

We talk about strong heroines in books but Elizabeth Middleton is one of the most
Cam *tactile seeker*

I'm so surprised that the majority of the reviews for Into the Wilderness are most concerned about explaining why it has nothing to do with the Outlander series or why, on the contrary, its author, Sara Donati, is Ms. Gabaldon's perfect little disciple, just because she's friends with her and writes HR.

Guys, get over Outlander! Not even Ms. Gabaldon wrote the same book twice, why would another person - another author - with her own writing style and brain, and voice and ideas, want to replicate
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Middleton has a mind of her own. In the twilight of the 1700's that is not a good thing. English born, she has made her way to fledgling America to live with her widowed father and brother in upstate New York. And it takes no time at all for her to be at odds with current convention and the local townsmen. In matters of politic and romance, Elizabeth and her outspoken beliefs stand alone....almost.
I have enjoyed this sweeping historical drama from the first page. It has been quite a
Aug 23, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Although this didn't take me as long as I had originally thought it would, I still struggled to finish it. Really, I'm not finished, because there are several more books in the series, but I'm in no rush to read them. I hate to say that after 758 pages, but it's the truth. I didn't love the book, but I didn't hate it either. It was just kinda meh. I hate it when that happens, but whatcha gonna do?

First off, the length really didn't bother me. It's one of the longest books I've tackled in reading
Carol Brill
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book intimidated me, first, it's 876 pages of small print, and in the opening there is a 3 page chart of characters--too many pages and too many characters, not my favorite kind of read.
It's strength for me is the strong, well-written sense of time and place, this New York mountain village of the 1790's is so well drawn it's like another character in the book.
I enjoyed the primary characters. Elizabeth Middleton who leaves England to join her father in this remote place. She is a 29 year ol
I enjoyed this as a summer read. It definitely wasn't as deep as many other historical fictions novels I've read. It felt much more like historical romance. The funny thing is, the romance wasn't my favorite part of the book. I actually liked the setting and the Native American characters the best. I listened to a lot of this and think the narrator did a nice job especially with the Scottish and Native accents and words. I didn't go into this with huge expectations, so just found it a light and ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book with strong likable characters. I was really pulled into the plot and Donati is great with descriptive narrative as well. I could picture the people andthe settings. However, I don't usually read books of this length and I was ready for the book to end about halfway through. Having said that, I am now having trouble choosing my next book because I was so caught up in this story. ...more
Diane Lynn
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story set in the 1790's, mostly in upper New York State. I was immediately drawn into their lives, the characters and plot were very well done. There is a large cast of characters but fortunately there is a list at the beginning of my book which I had to refer to from time to time. I enjoyed the survival bits in the wilderness and some parts were also suspenseful. My only one minor complaint is that one love scene had a little too much information for me. That didn't affect my overa ...more
Mishelle LaBrash
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is among the top 4 favorite series ever... I love everything about these books. You love, cry, laugh, hurt, hope, believe and grow with the entire Bonner clan... Sara Donati is a genius.. and I hope she graces us with another series very, very soon... Having finished this series left me with a hollow feeling... And that doesn't happen often with me.. ...more
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Retos Literarios ...: En tierras lejanas 9 19 Apr 04, 2017 05:16AM  
Más libros para Latinoamérica!! 1 1 Feb 08, 2017 03:11PM  
Play Book Tag: Into the Wildernesss by Sarah Donati - 4 Stars 3 22 Jul 09, 2016 12:40PM  
The Pioneers? 2 22 Feb 08, 2016 05:47PM  
The Book Travelers: Into the Wilderness, by Sara Donati 4 11 Dec 09, 2015 04:19PM  

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Working on the next novel in the series called Little Birds. Looking for information on Little Birds and all the other novels? Visit the wilderness universe wiki. Register to comment and participate in giveaways.

Sara Donati is the pen name of Rosina Lippi, also here on Goodreads because she writes too. All book reviews you'll find under Rosina's name.

Other books in the series

Wilderness (6 books)
  • Dawn on a Distant Shore (Wilderness, #2)
  • Lake in the Clouds (Wilderness, #3)
  • Fire Along the Sky (Wilderness, #4)
  • Queen of Swords (Wilderness, #5)
  • The Endless Forest (Wilderness, #6)

Articles featuring this book

Get in the mood with our list of the top 100 romances of all time. We narrowed the field by limiting our results to books aimed at...
270 likes · 462 comments
“Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, overly educated and excessively rational, knowing right from wrong and fancy from fact, woke in a nest of marten and fox pelts to the sight of an eagle circling overhead, and saw at once that it could not be far to Paradise.” 30 likes
“She wore her determination like war paint.” 8 likes
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