The Bride Of The Wilderness - Charles McCarry I couldn't decide if this was a 3 or 4 as it definitely fell somewhere between there, but I was feeling generous, so I went with a 4.

First of all, I should say that the blurb for this book is very misleading.
In early 18th-century America, London-born Fanny and the French soldier Philippe (ancestors of McCarrys famous recurring spy Paul Christopher) brave savage Indians and other adventures.
This description suggests this book is more of a romance about Fanny and Philippe. In reality the two of them dont' even become the major characters until the last 100 pages or so. Up until then the book is more in the nature of an epic, in that it follows a large cast of characters whose lives and paths alternatingly diverge and come together again and again.

The story starts with Fanny's father and best friend, Oliver, as kids, then Fanny's childhood and upbringing and finally leading to Oliver's wedding to Rose. Rose and Oliver are two of the major players throughout the book, and later Ash, his wife, Hawkes, Thoughtful, Two Suns, Used to be Bears and many others. Its a large scale family story, ultimately ending with Fanny and Philippe beginning their life together, and thereby starting the line of Christophers that ends with the hero of McCarry's contemporary thrillers. Unfortunately, this focus on Fanny and Philippe at the end, was to the exclusion of McCarry finishing off many of the other plot lines that he had started. The end result is a book that is historical fiction for the first 80% and historical "romance" for the last 20%.

The writing is very strong though as McCarry successfully conveyed his sense of time and place in both England and colonial America. I could see and feel the squalor of London that could breed the conditions of a plague-ravaged country and see the forests of beech trees that made up the beautiful, untamed and untouched wilderness of 18th century America.

The histories of many of the characters of this book were interesting, fully developed and engaging. I surprisingly liked learning about Henry and Oliver's childhood friendship, Thoughtful's adoption by the Algonquins, Marie-Dominique and Philippe's game of Spy and more. It was not the story that I was expecting, but it was well-written all the same.