This 2nd in the series, after "Into the Wilderness," starts of with more of the same. Just after Elizabeth is safely delivered of twins, she and Nathaniel learn that his father and a friend are being held in a Montreal gaol as spies. He must rescue them. She follows a few days later, plucky woman that she is, with her still-nursing infants, 10 yr old stepdaughter, freedwoman Curiosity, and English barrister brother-in-law. Left to protect the women at Lake of the Clouds are young Otter, who brought them news, and Liam, an orphaned white boy who they are forced to take into their confidence. The trip to Montreal is harrowing, especially as Elizabeth is nursing and and as a woman is disregarded by the men they encounter. Nonetheless (spoiler), they help spring their men from gaol, help find a ship to take them to Scotland when Moncrieff, the factor for Earl Carryck is determined to get Hawkeye there to prove he's the Earl's heir. The voyage turns out to be musical ships--and dangerous at that. Hannah learns a great deal from the Hakim, ship's surgeon on one of the ships, confirming for the family that medicine is her gift. In the end, the Earl gives up on Hawkeye when he learns of Luc/Luke, a byblow of Nathaniel's whom he was unaware of and hasn't met. Not as good as "Into the Wilderness" but a page turner nonetheless.
Perhaps my expectations going into this novel were a little too high. After all, I absolutely LOVED Donati's first in this series, Into The Wilderness. I found this novel to be boring and lacking. It took them 400 pages to get to the titular "distant shore". Very little happened in the lead up to Elizabeth and Nathaniel's arrival in Scotland- we were introduced to some new characters, Nathaniel and his father got tossed in jail. They escaped, Elizabeth and her entourage (Curiosity, Hannah, and her two new babies) follow them to Canada. They all get on boats bound for Scotland. They play musical boats. And they eventually arrive after a ridiculously long, drawn out voyage. Things finally pick up after they arrive in Scotland, and I was interested for the last 250 pages.
This novel feels like a side-story. In the scheme of things, it really changes nothing of Nathaniel and Elizabeth's narrative. They don't gain anything, they don't lose anything. None of the characters do any real growing. The whole thing just feels superfluous, and absolutely depends on the reader having read Into The Wilderness. There is very little romance here, and when I did come across a passage or two, I found that it only meant something because I found myself referring to the characters and their development in the first novel.
It was written well, just like the first in the series, but there just wasn't much here. It felt like a lot of padding- and the Scottish made it all the more difficult to understand. I will be reading the third in this series, Lake in the Clouds, because I've heard good things- and now that I've slogged through this one, I think I deserve it.
The story of Nathaniel and Elizabeth continue in the 2nd book of this series. The adventure moves from New York State to Scotland and the story is every bit as good as the first book in the series.
I liked this one a little better than the first one (Into the Wilderness). Will keep reading the series.
Great follow up to the first book in this series! Definitely a guilty pleasure - wonderful for the beach or a plane ride.
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