Looking for an “Outlanderish” big book to tide you over until the tv Outlander series returns? This is a solid option.
In December of 1792, Elizabeth Middleton travels from England to Paradise, NY to start a new life with her father, a judge, and her brother Julian. Life on the frontier teaching school isn’t exactly what a spinster woman envisioned when she left her genteel, aristocratic home behind. The townspeople are in an uneasy relationship with Hawkeye (of the “Last of the Mohicans” fame), a white man adopted by Chingachgook into an Indian tribe, his son, Nathaniel, and many Mohawk relatives of Nathaniel’s first wife Sara. The fight for land, treasure, and power boils over at many points, especially when the land in dispute is owned by the judge. The judge has big plans for the land, namely gifting it to Elizabeth once she marries his candidate, Dr. Richard Todd, as a way of paying off the judge’s debts. It is clear Dr. Todd only wants her for the land, and Elizabeth won’t be persuaded to act against her conscience. She also cannot escape the intense gaze of the other man vying for the land, Nathaniel. Their love affair threatens to upset the tension between the whites and the Indians in Paradise. Elizabeth steps into a life she never envisioned but one filled with the love, adventure, and purpose she always wanted.
Highly descriptive, vivid, and moving, the land becomes another character in this adventure romance of life on the American frontier in the late 18th century. It’s important to say that the romance is masterful, and I can’t stress that enough. Here, you’ll find a love story as stirring as that of Claire and Jamie. The historical detail too, is exceptional. The facts about the Mohawk way of life, language, and culture are stunning and make the story so real you feel as if you’re walking along behind Elizabeth and Nathaniel through the bush. The reference to Outlander characters Jamie, Claire, and Ian is brief but bright – a worthy homage to a “pioneer” of the genre.
This solid footing helps a reader to (almost) overlook some of the books’ bigger weaknesses, namely some cartoonish secondary characters (Julian and Billy Kirby couldn’t be more stereotypical in their buffoonery), an often lagging narrative (hard to avoid in an 800+ page book), and some rather trite cultural spats that are replayed over and over. When a point is overplayed, it usually diminishes its impact. But the strength of the romance and beauty and wildness of the landscape manage to conquer most and carry the story through the rougher parts. Overall a worthy tale, haunting and deep. It will take you back to Outlander in a moment.
Amazon link is here.