Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Some Thoughts on Outlander

Took a longish hiatus from reading the Outlander series. Deadlines, other books I wanted or needed to read, life, etc. got in the way. It had been a lovely late spring/summer/ part of fall run-- all the way to the middle of Book 6 when it was time to stop for bit.

Unfortunately, I'd left off in the middle of a lengthy section about William (Jamie's illegitimate son who is being raised by Lord John Grey and is now a British soldier while Jamie is now on the American side of that pesky Revolution) being lost in the middle of something called the Great Dismal and then getting rescued by Quakers and his (unbeknownst to him) cousin Ian Murray, who is mostly a Mohawk now but not always. So I returned to lots of slogging through bogs and fog and losing his horse and more slogging and on like that for a very long time until hooray! Ian wandered in to orient me and save the day.

It's been on fairly quickly since then, remembering that Diana Gabaldon tells Claire's parts in 1st person but everyone else's in 3rd and finally some Jamie and Claire time (which is why you read this series, among other things) and some cleverly smexy times and more Ian and the Quakers (who seem to get in a lot of trouble) and more than one leg amputation and some other grizzly deaths and talk of herbs and oh yes, both Claire and Jamie need spectacles now, and in fact he has just told her they'll have to wait until they get to Edinburgh (God knows when?) where he knows a guy and then he'll get her two pairs. Of course, this reader assumes that those words are queuing up the arrival of Ben Franklin, spectacle maker supreme! Hopefully he will make Claire a pair of bifocals! Cause these things happen in this series. I'll let you know.

And yet… There is just something about Outlander that makes me come back for more. Even if I occasionally skim pages about the Great Dismal or too much scenery or too much herb analysis. And even if the Quaker story line is feeling forced and honestly William is rather a jerk at times, but no one has told him who he really is and he seems a bit of a dim bulb about those things…

The romance is quite fine. (Just read an article about how the director of 50 Shades is hoping she's created a stronger, more feminist narrative for the film than the book. Well, good luck with that.) Outlander has strong women. And strong men. And love and sex and romance on an equal basis. I mean let's face it, when they first got married, Jamie not Claire, was the virgin. (He's made up for this since then, but still) As I like to remind people it's the women in this series who killed a buffalo with a hand saw. (specifically Jamie and Claire's daughter Brianna.) And yes sometimes the whole Brianna and Roger in Scotland in the future story line feels a bit like just a set up for a time travel kidnapping. But the series has dealt with death and loss and rape and starvation and war and love and revolution and fear and joy and everything in between.

It is big and bold and wonderful. It has jumped the shark any number of times (see: killing buffalo with a hand saw and my prediction about Ben Franklin and the glasses). But never mind! It is about flesh and blood characters who are living big and small lives against an ongoing historical backdrop. It is about life and love and the joys and sorrows of both. And I haven't even mentioned about 98% of the plot lines!

And the STARZ series, coming back in April, is mighty fine, too. (see: the wedding night between Jamie and Claire. And a bunch of other stuff.)

So yes, each book is like 1,000 pages. Fine with me.

If you haven't read it, find a copy and catch yourself up!

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