I love, love, love this novel. It is set in the eighteen months following WWII, and is novel told in letters. Its humanity and humor amidst unspeakabl...moreI love, love, love this novel. It is set in the eighteen months following WWII, and is novel told in letters. Its humanity and humor amidst unspeakable horror and tragedy; its quirky characters that you want to be your neighbors so you can visit with them regularly; its beautiful writing and masterful unfolding of story and character--set it apart from most everything I've read in the last couple years. Whatever you assume from what I've written, don't. It will surprise you.(less)
I enjoy most of what Jennifer Ashley writes whether historical romance, historical mystery or paranormal romance, but it is her historical series abou...moreI enjoy most of what Jennifer Ashley writes whether historical romance, historical mystery or paranormal romance, but it is her historical series about the Mackenzie brothers and family that is the best of the lot. These brothers are complex characters, and while the rest are not nearly as wonderful as youngest brother Ian (one of the most unique and superb characters I've come across in fiction), Lloyd Fellows, the Scotland Yard detective and illegitimate Mackenzie brother, comes close. The romance (hinted at in previous novels)that deepens between Fellows and Lady Louisa Scranton amidst an intriguing mystery in which she is the chief suspect is sweet and against the odds, as the best romances are.(less)
This novel was worth the wait, and the exploration of the physical consequences and complex emotions on the part of all four characters in the afterma...moreThis novel was worth the wait, and the exploration of the physical consequences and complex emotions on the part of all four characters in the aftermath of Jamie Fraser's resurrection, John Grey and Claire's marriage, and William's discovery of his true parentage are a poignant, sometimes humorous, tour de force piece of writing. Young Ian and Rachel Hunter's difficult emotional journey together, too, is beautifully wrought warts and all. Meeting Brian Fraser the man, as opposed to the memory, was moving and insightful. I hated that a couple beloved characters died, but I felt that their deaths were true to the story.
Given all the novel's enormous strengths, the flaws are annoying, particularly how the beginning, starting minutes after the previous novel ends, doesn't match up on the calendar, nor is the opening chapter plausible given Young Ian Murray's grave injury after he fights Arch Bug (the event is not even acknowledged till several chapters later). The previous novel gives the reader the impression that Arch Bug's attack on Ian and Rachel occurs in close proximity, possibly only hours before Jamie's dramatic reappearance at John Grey's residence. Not so according to this version. Still a couple weeks does not heal a broken arm and damaged muscles enough for Ian to be doing the heartbreaking strenuous labor he is doing in the first pages of this novel. Having just reread the ending of Echo I felt a little like I'd had a brain swirly.
I also found the storyline of Rob Cameron and his cronies a little hoodoo-voodoo for my tastes, but I've always found the St. Germain-Geillis-Fraser prophecy aspects of the series jarring when so much of it is character and history driven.
Gabaldon is a great one for haunting parallels--John Grey and Jack Randall (who is never called Jack to his face); John Grey and Claire; Jamie and William (this novel has William repeating Jamie's early choices, especially championing young women, so much as to almost stretch credulity); and Claire and Roger's childhoods. That being so I was struck forcefully after learning Roger's experience with his dad Jerry (here and in the novella that tells the same events from Jerry MacKenzie's perspective) and this novel's revisiting on multiple occasions the promise Jamie and Claire made to each other on their wedding day to be honest, how silent this series is about Claire's history. She never once asks which parent she inherited the travel gene from nor do we or she learn about them as people. Gabaldon has found ways for us to know those things about every other main character (Jamie, Roger, John Grey, William and Brianna), but not the central one. We do not learn specifics about her genealogy as we do Roger and Frank. It even seems odd to me, that in a childhood of visiting archeology sites, she never came across stones that she heard. On the page, we hear endless stories of Jamie's life when Claire was unknown or absent, but she seldom tells her stories to him. To date she has not told Jamie the true nature of her marriage with Frank and how it ended, at least that the reader knows. We know only because she thinks it. These silences seem odd and are growing louder. Where Jamie is concerned, it makes me feel that Claire has by omission not lived up to her side of the honesty promise.
On a more whimsical note, I almost wish Jamie had not returned quite so soon because I am so intrigued by the relationship John and Claire were and are developing throughout this novel. Now they have a relationship that is not through Jamie (though his shadow remains). John clearly now feels for the first time that he is not the supplicant in his relationship with Jamie, but somehow his short marriage to Claire has equalized things that he probably enjoys a bit too much tweaking. Still I had a sense that John in some ways understood vital things about Claire maybe better than Jamie, or at least in a different and possibly truer way. And I think John received from Claire a deeper sense of being known and accepted than he'd had with anyone else before her. He doesn't have to hide anything with her. How threatened Jamie is by their fleeting marriage is equally interesting. More, I want more John and Claire.(less)
I enjoyed this series. It had a lighter touch than many of Lawhead's books, and the character of Friar Tuck is one of the better articulated character...moreI enjoyed this series. It had a lighter touch than many of Lawhead's books, and the character of Friar Tuck is one of the better articulated characters. The ending is satisfying, but in the context of medieval Welsh history and the ongoing confrontations with the Norman/English kings a little too fairy tale, but enjoyable all the same. Two things Lawhead doesn't do particularly well are female characters and realistic romantic relationships. The main female characters are 2-dimensional stereotypical strong women, but their growth and character transitions and inner life are pretty much nonexistent.
The transplantation of the legend, for all the anachronisms (particularly the prevalent use of the long bow), is creative. (less)