The Endless Forest by Sara Donati

The Endless Forest is the sixth and final book in Sara Donati’s series. The series is set in the 1800’s and involves a large family living at the edge of ruralness. It’s not really necessary to read the other books before this one, but it does help with some of the background and keeping the people straight.

Its years later and Elizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner’s children are mostly grown up and starting families of their own. Hannah is the town’s doctor and little Birdie is in school, and their own Daniel has finally found happiness in pursuing Martha Kuick. Martha has a terrible mother though and she arrives in town to put a damper on things and cause trouble like she normally does. She has brought a young boy, believed to be her son, with her as well and soon shuffles him off onto the Bonners and their relations. All they want is to live in happiness, but it seems like there is always something happening in the small town of Paradise.

The characters were their old familiar selves from the previous books. Hannah was a bit more matronly and wise than she had been previously, but I suppose age will do that to a person. Regretfully Elizabeth and Nathaniel, while being in the book, don’t have as large of parts compared to when the series first started and they were the main characters. The largest set of characters were Martha and Daniel and while they were compelling characters, I didn’t find them as enjoyable to read about as Elizabeth and Daniel. Jemima Kuick, Martha’s mother, was just as nasty and lowdown as ever.

This plot tended to meander quite a bit. It was more just the telling of what happened in a span of time and the difficulties of normal life than any one set problem that they had to overcome. Sure Jemima presented problems, but that was only part of it. I do like that the epilogue of the story was told in newspaper articles, I thought that was clever. Donati’s writing is always very good and you can tell her linguistic background through the use of accents and voices for her characters. I do have to warn though that she doesn’t shy away from descriptive sex in this book. If that’s not your thing you may want to avoid it.

A nice ending to the series. I enjoyed finding out what happens with all the characters and putting a finish to their stories.

Book One: Into the Wilderness
Book Two: Dawn on a Distant Shore
Book Three: Lake in the Clouds
Book Four: Fire Along the Sky
Book Five: Queen of Swords

The Endless Forest
Copyright 2010
623 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2011

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