Friday, June 24, 2005

Book report: Outlander

The Romance Novel Challenge was designed to broaden my own reading horizions while teasing some of you who have never read a romance novel (or an inspirational romance novel) into giving one a try. I promised to share my impressions of the books I am "forced" to read, so here is the second of my book reports:

Katrina Stonoff promised to read an inspirational romance novel if I would read one of her favorites, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I can't say I've never read a Scottish romance, as Blackwell's Lorna Doone has long been a favorite of mine, but we were talking about novels by contemporary authors, so Katrina assigned me Outlander. She pointed out that in addition to being a Scottish romance, Outlander is a time-travel story. That's yet another romance subgenre I've never read, so I blazed two trails by reading Outlander.

Which seems only fair because that sucker was as long as two books.

Yes, Katrina, I liked it. Quite a lot, actually. Except I didn't buy any of the time-travel hooey. Too many things were left unexplained and went unquestioned by Claire and her Scots husband. Those aspects of the story were just plain awkward for me. I believed in H. G. Wells's time machine, but Diana Gabaldon just couldn't sell me that whole "screaming rock" scenario. For one thing, when Claire is thrust 200 years into the past, she seems to adapt rather quickly and awfully well to the language, conventions, and living conditions. And what was up with that "ghostly" appearance of Jamie outside of Claire's room in the beginning of the novel? Also, did you notice that Claire didn't stop for more than a moment to wonder if, by helping to bring about the death of her husband's ancestor, she had just made poor old Frank (whom she supposedly loved dearly and who was stuck back in 1945 while Claire was falling in love with her dashing Scotsman) cease to exist?

Well, skip all that. The truth is, Katrina, I had a ripping good time. Loved the characters. And just when I was beginning to think Jamie seemed a bit too sensitive for a hard-living Scot in the year 1743, he beat his wife for disobedience and yanked me right back into the story.

I'll confess to having fast-forwarded past some of the sex scenes and the graphic violence, but that isn't going to stop me from recommending the book. I don't know how soon I'll pick up another Diana Gabaldon novel, Katrina, but thanks for making me read this one. I'm going to call it a forgettable time-travel romance and a memorable Scottish historical.

Which seems only fair because that sucker is as long as two books.

Next up is Stephen King's Misery. After that, Joseph Nassise's Riverwatch. My first book report, on Stephen King's Bag of Bones, is here.

Would anyone else like to challenge me?


Chris said...

Misery is short. No fast-forwarding.

--Chris (dFm)

Brenda Coulter said...

Handsome? Um...thank you?

Chris, I got to page 60 and had to stop and rest for a while. My legs were beginning to ache. ;-)

How's that romance novel working out for you? Are you fast-forwarding?

Chris said...

I'm on chapter 2 or 3 (not fast-forwarding). I think I may need something a little more contemporary (this was published in '78). I'll give it 'til chapter 5 and if I'm still less than enchanted I'll try something else.

BTW: if your legs are aching, try the pain pills.

--Chris (dFm)

Katrina Stonoff said...

Wow! You are fast! That's a very long book, and I really didn't expect you to finish. I'm delighted that you enjoyed it though, and I'll certainly give you your objections.

I just received the two inspirational romances a few days ago (I'm too cheap to pay for shipping when Amazon will send it free if you're patient). As promised, I'll read Rivers' book first. I'll let you know how it goes.

Brenda Coulter said...

Katrina, I'm a fast reader. But I've also been spending more time reading in the past couple of weeks than is usual for me.

Yes, please do let us know how you like your assigned reading. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Just passing through... all of your questions about the ghost and the ending and Frank etc. are explained in the consequent books, and the books do get better. The Outlander books are the only romance novels I've read and I love how complex they are (not that romance novels by definition aren't), above all how this is the story of a marriage, not courtship. Above all it is an amazing continuing story.

Anonymous said...

I've read all 6 of the novels in Diana's Outlander series. The first 2 or 3 books are good and moved well despite the graphic sex and violence which I could have done without and didn't forward the story line. However towards the middle of the series the plots tend to bog down more and move much slower. Books that I should have been able to knock off in a couple weeks took over a month to read and the only reason I slogged through was because I'd gotten stuck on wanting to know what happened to the characters. I'm just glad the local library had them all so I didn't spend money on them that could be better invested in other reading material.

If you like Scottish Historical give Michael Phillips Celtic Stone I think is the series name - An Ancient Strife and I can't remember the other one. Only two books and though long (about 5-6 humdred pages each I think they move faster than Outlander and subsequent books without the extraneous material. He covers Scottish history from way ancient times almost back to BC era up to the nineteeth/twentieth centuries.