I just got back from the Caribbean--No wait! That wasn't the Caribbean! That was another place that starts with "C"-- Canada!
No kidding. The photo above was taken a couple of days ago on the shores of Lake Superior. Can you believe it? We took the kids canoe camping up at Lake Superior Provincial Park for the long weekend and it was so breath-takingly beautiful I'm still a little stunned. And at this time of year there are (drum roll please) NO BUGS. No black flies, no mosquitoes, nuthin'.
I read the most wonderfully appropriate book before back-country camping. On Thursday afternoon I finished Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness and on Friday morning I was in the wilderness myself.
I approached Into the Wilderness with some trepidation; I knew it was supposed to be a sequel to Last of the Mohicians but not much more about the story. It was the author I was concerned with because Sara Donati also writes under the pseudonym Rosina Lippi and her book Homestead is wonderful--one of the best books my book group has read and one of my favorite books of the last few years. I knew the books written under the name Sara Donati would not be similar in tone and I was worried that I'd dislike her doing historical fiction, and, what's more, historical fiction that is also a romance. But it was a terrific transporting read--completely different from Homestead, but lots of fun and a total immersion.
And I appreciated the story of a woman going off into the bush even more while sitting at my island campsite, enjoying this sunset:
There are three more books in the Wilderness series and Donati is finishing up the fifth one. I've heard a bit about it on her wonderful blog Storytelling--one of my favorite blogs out there (even though she hardly ever mentions food in her blog...thankfully the books have ample descriptions of frontier/Native American foods. I have a strong hankering for corn bread now though I think I'll pass on the rendered bear fat.)
While camping I got a good way into another book, recommended by Ami (and endorsed in its goodness by Annie), Donna Tartt's The Little Friend. As Ami mentioned to me when she told me about the book, the main character Harriet is a lot like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: a little older than Scout and maybe a bit more defiant, but that same good grubby fearless girl spirit. The comparison with Mockingbird doesn't end here--there is a version of Calpurnia in Harriet's beloved housekeeper Ida, the book is set in the deep South, and the main character is trying to solve a mystery. The writing is really terrific--not at all showy, but really tight and vivid. I haven't read Tartt's debut novel The Secret History, but I'm pretty sure when I finish this one that I'll want to read it soon.