Intrigue in the wilderness at your Summit County library | SummitDaily.com
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Intrigue in the wilderness at your Summit County library

With a master storyteller’s skill and an historian’s precision, Sara Donati has delighted readers and critics alike with her bestselling novels of the 19-century New York frontier. With “The Endless Forest” she brings us the graceful, sweeping conclusion to her wilderness series. In this book we say good-bye to Elizabeth Bonner and her family.

Once again, the setting is the remote village of Paradise, where the Bonner family that readers first met in “Into the Wilderness” makes their home. The spring of 1824 is a challenging one for the inhabitants of Paradise N.Y., when a flood devastates the village. But for Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner, it’s also a time of reunion as their children return from far-off places: Lily and her husband from Italy, and Martha Kirby, the Bonners’ ward, from Manhattan. Although Lily is nursing her own grief, it is Martha, fleeing a crushing humiliation, who brings with her trouble that will reverberate in all their lives.

In the sudden peace that follows the storm, as families struggle to rebuild, childhood friends Martha and Daniel, Lily’s twin brother, suddenly begin to see each other in a new light. But their growing bond is threatened when Martha’s mother arrives back in Paradise a decade after abandoning her daughter. Daniel realizes the only way to save Martha’s property is to marry her. Jemima, Martha’s mother, is a dangerous schemer who has destroyed more than one family, and her anger touches everyone, as do her secrets. Has Jemima come to claim her daughter – or does she have something else in mind? Martha and Daniel and all the Bonners must stand united against the threats to both heart and home.

Donati will satisfy and, in some cases, delight her longtime readers by wrapping up nearly every story line, confidently tracking a huge cast and their individual conflicts. Those new to Donati’s work would be better served starting at the beginning of the series with “Into the Wilderness,” but any reader will be won over, sooner or later, by Donati’s affection for her tough, complex characters. Painful secrets and hidden sorrows, joy, heartbreak and passion follow the Bonners through a season of change and renewal. A rich passionate, multilayered portrayal of family strength and endurance in a fascinating place and time, “The Endless Forest” will be remembered long after the last page is turned.


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