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.
Little Birds Sara Donati ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PHYSICIAN SEEKS NURSE-MIDWIFE TO JOIN AN ESTABLISHED MEDICAL PRACTICE IN NEW MEXICO TERRITORY
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
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