Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review: Lake in the Clouds by Sara Donati

From the Back Cover:

It is the spring of 1802 and the village of Paradise is still reeling from the typhoid epidemic of the previous summer. But despite a devastating personal loss, the Bonners persevere, with Hannah, Nathaniel's half-Indian daughter, working as a doctor in training. A gifted healer, this striking young woman of two worlds finds herself in peril when a dangerously ill runaway slave is discovered near the family home and Hannah insists on nursing the outlaw. Her determination places both her family and her heart in jeopardy, for a bounty hunter is afoot - and he is none other than Hannah's childhood friend and first love. So begins a journey that will test the strength of the Bonners' love for one another - and bring Hannah to face the decision she has always dreaded: will she make a life for herself in a white world, or among her mother's people?

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Wilderness series, picking up in 1802, eight years after we last saw the Bonner family in Dawn on a Distant Shore. As in that book, a large portion of this book focuses on Hannah, who has evolved as my favorite character. While her parents go off on a dangerous mission to help a group of runaway slaves achieve freedom, eighteen-year-old Hannah sets off on an adventure of her own to study vaccination methods in New York City. The story alternates between Elizabeth's and Nathaniel's quest, Hannah's time in the city and the people left behind in Paradise, with the youngest Bonner daughter, Lily, and Hannah's nemesis, Jemimah, narrating.

Once again Ms. Donati does an excellent job of bringing the time period to life. I especially enjoyed the depiction of life in New York City and Hannah's time spent working in the almshouse hospital. Here, as everywhere else, Hannah is confronted with the prejudice and ignorance of others who cannot see past the color of her skin, but she is determined to learn as much as she can to take back to the people living on the frontier and she handles it as the intelligent, courageous and courteous woman that she is.

Due to the change of setting in the previous book, we lost track of the characters living in Paradise, but they're all back in this book in all of their colorful glory. But all is not well and there is a lot of death in this story. It's very sad, but when you have a book with so many characters, it's bound to happen, and it's also very realistic. Life was not easy back then and the mortality rate was very high.

Now that I've sung the book's praises, I'll get to what I didn't like. Early on in the book there are a couple of very graphic sex scenes with secondary characters. Graphic sex scenes in general don't bother me, I actually like a healthy dose of sex in my books, but in this case this is a departure from the style of the previous books in the series and it seemed to be done mostly for shock value. Then later in the book when the characters that I actually want to see having sex finally do, I get nothing! Frustrating. That leads me to what has been my biggest complaint in all of the books, that I've felt that the author skipped over some important incidents that deserved to have their own scenes rather than being touched on in the narrative after the fact. It happens again at the end of this one when Hannah makes her decision about what she's going to do with her life and we don't get to witness her take those first steps firsthand. There was also a fairly important plot mystery featuring Hannah's first love that was not resolved at the end of this story and that disappointed me, though I'm hoping this means the story will be revived in one of the future books.

However, my complaints are relatively minimal when compared with the overall quality of the books in this series, the next of which is Fire Along the Sky. I am looking forward to reading it, though I am disappointed to see that it begins ten years down the road when I really would have liked to continue the story right where this book ended.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just noticed this review and wondered if you would like to link it in to the current monthly collection of books that people loved on Carole's Chatter. This is the link There are already over 25 books linked in that you might be interested in. It would be great if you came on over. Cheers


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