The Sweet Blue Distance

Berkley. Apr. 2024. 800p. ISBN 9781984805058. $28. F
This title is a bridge novel between two of Donati’s historical fiction series: “Wilderness” (set in 1792–1824) and “Waverly Place” (set in 1883–85), but it stands alone as a powerful narrative. In early 1857, Carrie Ballentyne, with her brother Nathan, travel by train, packet, wagon train, and finally horseback from Manhattan to Santa Fe in answer to an ad calling for a midwife and nurse to join Dr. Markham’s practice. The woman he seeks must be a skilled rider, able to speak or learn Spanish, courageous, and capable of handling firearms. She must also be willing to tolerate a high degree of local “unrest” in a town dominated by Army occupation and racial and cultural tensions. Carrie’s background and goals suit the curious calling, and she is soon put to the test. Carrie’s relationship with Eli Ibarra (who is half Basque and half Pueblo) gives her insight into ethnic conflicts rife in Santa Fe while her work brings women’s health and rights to the fore.
VERDICT These 800 pages are gone in a surprising flash. Highly recommended; don’t miss the invaluable author’s note.
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