another short excerpt Fire Along the Sky

Just in case you had the idea that this new novel is not about the Bonners themselves…there’s another short excerpt below (see “continue reading” at the bottom of this entry).

That will be the last excerpt, but please know that while the younger Bonners (Lily, Hannah, Jennet) play a large role in this story, Elizabeth and Nathaniel are still central.

Excerpt: Thunder at Twilight. Forthcoming Bantam Books. Copyright Sara Donati. All Rights Reserved: no part of this text may be reproduced in any way without express written permission of the author.

Chapter 1

Early September 1812
Paradise, New-York State

Hot sun and abundant rain: Lily Bonner said a word of thanks for good summer and the harvest it had given them, and in the same breath she wished her hoe to the devil and herself away.

But there was no chance of escape. Even Lily’s mother, whose usual and acknowledged place was at her writing desk or in a classroom, had come to help; everyone must, this close to harvest. The women must, Lily corrected herself: the men were in the cool of the forests.

She glanced up and caught sight of her mother, all furious concentration as she moved along, swinging her hoe with the same easy rhythm as Many-Doves. There were an army of two marching through the tasseled rows, corn brushing shoulders and cheeks as if to thank the women for their care.

For all their lives Mohawk women spent the best part of every summer day in the fields tending the three sisters: corn, beans, squash. But Lily’s mother had been raised in a great English manor house with servants, and she had not held a hoe in her hands – white skin, ink stained fingers — until she was thirty. Elizabeth Middleton had come to New-York as a spinster, a teacher, a crusader; in just six months’ time she had become someone very different.

Lily understood a simple truth: the day came for every woman when she must choose one kind of life or another or let someone else make the choice for her. For some the crucial moment came suddenly, without warning and when least expected; others saw it approaching, pushing up out of the ground like a weed.
It was an image that would not leave her mind, and so she had finally spoke about it to her mother, holding the idea out in open palms like the egg of an unfamiliar and exotic bird.

And how it had pleased her mother, this simple gift. She sat contemplating her folded hands for a moment, Quaker gray eyes fixed on the horizon and a tilt to her head that meant her mind was far away, reliving some moment, recalling a phrase read last week or ten years ago. When she spoke, finally, it was not with the quotation Lily expected.

She said, “There are so many choices available to you, such riches for the taking. The very best advice I can give you is very simple. You have heard me say it in different ways, but I’ll put it as simply as I can. When it comes time to chose, try to favor the rational over the subjective.”

At that Lily had laughed out loud, in surprise and disappointment. Who else had a mother who would say such a thing, and in such a studiously odd way? Other people were satisfied with quoting the bible and old wife’s wisdoms, but Lily had a mother who preferred Kant to the proverbs. Who made decisions with her head when she could, and was convinced that in doing so, her other needs would be satisfied.

Certainly Elizabeth Bonner could point to even the most unconventional choices she had made in her life and argue that they were rational, and more than that: that she was happy with her choices. As most of the other women Lily knew were happy with the lives they had. Most, but not all. […]

Comments via Facebook

6 Replies to “another short excerpt Fire Along the Sky”

  1. Dear Sara – This first page reminds me so much of my mother. I had an option to go to school out of state; my father didn’t want me to go as he knew there would be a ‘change’ in me ‘forever’. My dear wonderful mother forced the issue and gave my father no choice but she ‘gave me’ so many choices and to this day I have her to thank for all my choices in my life. *Karen in PA*

  2. Wow. How can you describe adulthood with such brevity and poetry? My mother too has been instrumental in my own faith in my decisions, and while hers didn’t always put her in a ‘happy place,’ she doesn’t regret any of them. And so to see another mother and another daughter sharing the same life secrets is wonderful. Thanks for the smile of the day and I look forward to the book!

  3. I just loved your books and am so looking forward to the next. i just have to say this, that is surprised me and delighted me in knowing that you loved farscape too, as thought there was not many of us there
    thank you

  4. I am just reading the first three books in the Wilderness series again ….for the third or forth time ….and as I am recovering from cancer, it is so comforting to be able to find a refuge in the lives of the Bonners and the rest of the characters ! Thankyou for your gift …Ida (from Central Otago New Zealand)

  5. I have loved all your books so far, and can’t wait for the next one. It has been a very hard year so far as my husband has cancer now and is very demanding and reading is a way to get a bit of quiet time to my self sometimes.

  6. I, too, cannot wait for your next book. _Into the Wilderness remains my favorite as I identify with Elizabeth. So did my daughter who died when she was about two/thirds through it. We had some good discussions about the character during her last week. We were both teachers who “thought out of the box” and felt Elizabeth was a personal friend. Thank you for sharing her with us.

Comments are closed.