all the novels. so far.


Publication Order of Wilderness Books

Into the Wilderness(1998)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dawn on a Distant Shore(2000)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lake in the Clouds(2002)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fire Along the Sky(2004)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Queen of Swords(2006)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Endless Forest(2009)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Gilded Hour Books

The Gilded Hour(2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Where the Light Enters(2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Homestead(1997)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tied to the Tracks(2006)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square(2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Excerpt: Little Birds

It takes me a long time to write a novel. My readers wait  at least a couple years between books.  I’m hoping this short excerpt from the beginning of Little Birds will make the wait a little easier.

This novel serves as a bridge between the Wilderness series, which ended in 1824, and the Waverly Place series, which begins in 1883.  Little Birds is set in 1856-57, primarily in the western territories.  The central character is  Callie Ballentyne, one of the daughters of Lily Bonner and Simon Ballentyne. Callie is a nurse and midwife.

I rarely post to this weblog unless I have something longer to share, and for that reason I  have turned off commenting. There is a Facebook page dedicated to my fiction where questions or comments are welcome.  Please stop by if you are so inclined.


New Mexico Territory ca 1870

Little Birds
Sara Donati



Dr. Samuel Markham, originally of this city but resident in Santa Fé, New Mexico Territory for the last­­ ten years, is seeking a formally trained, experienced nurse and midwife to join his medical practice. This position requires someone who will see patients and assist in his Santa Fé dispensary, but who will also make house-calls in the town and environs. Thus the successful applicant must be an experienced rider who can spend many hours in the saddle, often traveling through rough landscapes.

There is a great deal of unrest in the territory. Indian raids and attacks are not uncommon outside Santa Fé and less common within the boundaries of the town, due in part to the presence of the U.S. Army at Fort Marcy. Thus the nurse who joins the practice must be courageous, quick-witted and able to handle weapons. A truly excellent applicant who has no experience with firearms, but is willing to learn, will be considered.

To a well-trained, conscientious, compassionate, vigorous and hard-working individual who is not afraid of the unfamiliar, Dr. Markham offers the following: all costs associated with relocation to Santa Fé; a weekly salary of $15; the use of a good horse and saddle, a private room and board, and services of the household staff. You will take meals with the family (which includes the doctor, his wife and a young daughter) and be counted as one of their number.

Santa Fé’s population is about one-quarter white, not counting the soldiers at Fort Marcy; the rest are Mexican, Indian, African, or mixed blood. There are many different tribes in and near Santa Fé, including the Puebloan clans, the Apache, Navajo, and Ute. Other tribes pass through on a regular basis. As Spanish is the lingua franca, the person hired will be required to learn that language within a reasonable amount of time. Further, she must agree to set out for Santa Fé no later than the beginning of May, and to commit to a three-year period of service. In addition to a very liberal salary, Dr. Markham will consider an annual bonus for a person who becomes an asset to the practice and agrees to a longer contract.

Interested parties should first present themselves to Dr. Michael Colby at the New Amsterdam Hospital. If that interview is successful, he will ask you to send a letter of application to Dr. Markham in which you  may provide information about your background,  training and experience, and what interests you about this position.

Dr. Michael V. Colby, Director
New Amsterdam Charity Hospital

New York City
Posted November 30, 1856


Novels I re-read and thus, recommend

I posted a list like this once before, some years ago, and find that it is out of date. So here’s a more recent take on the type of fiction that is most likely to draw me in. 

Note: I’m not claiming these are the best novels ever written. I know for a fact that some of them will raise eyebrows; the point is, I felt enough resonance with that piece of storytelling that I go back for more now and then. There are also novels I truly admire, but could not bring myself to read again.  So you won’t find them here.

This list is not divided up by genre, so let me warn you: you’ll find pretty much everything here, from espionage and romance to very dark crime and sci-fi. And then there’s Austen and Dickens.

  • Richard Adams The Girl in a Swing 
  • Jane Austen Persuasion; Pride and Prejudice
  • Toni Cade Bambara  Gorilla, My Love
  • Amy Bloom Come to Me
  • James Lee Burke  In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead; White Doves at Morning; A Morning for Flamingos
  • A.S. Byatt  Angels & Insects; Possession
  • Chelsea Cain Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell series)
  • Jetta Carleton The Moonflower Vine  
  • Michael Chabon The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
  • Loretta Chase  Lord Perfect; Lord of Scoundrels
  • Wilkie Collins The Woman in  White
  • Laurie Colwin A Big Storm Knocked It Over 
  • Jennifer Crusie Crazy for You; Faking It; Welcome to Temptation
  • Judy Cuevas  Dance; Bliss
  • Junot Díaz The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Stephen Dobyns The Burn Palace 
  • Dorothy Dunnett Niccolo Rising  (House of Niccolo; 8 volumes)
  • Daphne Du Maurier  Rebecca
  • George Eliot  Adam Bede 
  • Ken Follett Eye of the Needle
  • Ariana Franklin City of Shadows; Mistress of the Art of Death
  • Charles Frazier Cold Mountain
  • Thomas Hardy Far from the Madding Crowd; The Mayor of  Casterbridge
  • Mo Hayder Poppet  (the Jack Caffery series)
  • John Fowles The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  • Mark Helprin  A Soldier of the Great War 
  • Judith Ivory  Beast 
  • Baine Kerr  Wrongful Death 
  • Stephen King  The Stand; Black House; Dolan’s Cadillac
  • Barbara Kingsolver Animal Dreams; The Poisonwood Bible
  • Lisa Kleypas  Smooth Talking Stranger; Blue-Eyed Devil
  • Stieg Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and the next two)
  • Margaret Lawrence  Hearts and Bones (Hannah Trevor series; 4 volumes)
  • Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird 
  • Dennis Lehane Gone, Baby Gone; Darkness Take My Hand
  • Elmore Leonard Pagan Babies, Cuba Libre, Get Shorty
  • Gabriel Garcia Márquez A Hundred Years of Solitude
  • McCarry, Charles: The Bride of The Wilderness
  • Larry McMurtry  Lonesome Dove
  • Jacquelyn Mitchard  Second Nature; The Breakdown Lane
  • Toni Morrison Beloved, The Bluest Eye 
  • Jojo Moyes  The Girl You Left Behind 
  • Alice Munro  Friend of my Youth
  • Audrey Niffenegger  The Time Traveler’s Wife 
  • Tim O’Brian  The Things They Carried
  • Michael Ondaatje  The English Patient
  • Joseph O’Neill Netherland
  • Ann Patchett The Magician’s Assistant 
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips Ain’t She Sweet 
  • Annie Proulx The Shipping News; Wyoming Stories
  • Mario Puzo The Fortunate Pilgrim
  • Mary Doria Russell A Thread of Grace 
  • Richard Russo   Straight Man; Empire Falls 
  • Karin Slaughter Will Trent series (8 volumes) 
  • Jane Smiley A Thousand Acres 
  • Scott Spencer Waking the Dead; Endless Love
  • Jessica Davis Stein Coyote Dream 
  • Kathryn Stockett  The Help 
  • William Styron  Sophie’s Choice 
  • Barry Unsworth Sacred Hunger
  • Gore Vidal  Burr; Lincoln
  • Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Edith Wharton  Ethan Frome
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder The Long Winter