Sensual prose telling the story of a man who travels to Japan, then an exotic land, to purchase and smuggle silkworCompelling, sparse, and beautiful.
Sensual prose telling the story of a man who travels to Japan, then an exotic land, to purchase and smuggle silkworm for his village. There, he enters the house of a local nobleman sitting on the floor with nothing around but the still and obedient body of a woman "her head resting on his lap, eyes closed, arms hidden under a loose red robe that spread around her, like a flame". Herve sits opposite the man and, without noticing, lowers his gaze to hers. And begins a journey of yearning, of being pulled by a force invisible but undeniable. It complicates Herve, it becomes his obsession; this woman who does not speak.
Barrico's voice is deep and lulling. He places these two characters worlds apart even when they are standing in front of each other. We can feel the vast and empty abyss between them, the impossibility of their fate and desire. Yet we feel the force, too. The incomprehensible force that draws them to each other. We feel their desire almost make our own skin tremble. He makes a look of the eyes the most delicate and powerful thing.
There is a scene when Herve, on his final chance of seeing her, is kneeling on the ground. He knows she is in the litter passing right behind him. We feel Herve closing his eyes and imagining her, inside the litter, seeing him, knowing that he came and that he is there. We can feel him closing his eyes and concentrating because he knows he cannot turn around. If he cannot see her, he will feel her. And we feel him feeling their electricity running through him, the connection between them coming to life as they cross paths for the last time. We feel him saying good bye, him on his knees on the ground with his back to her, and her feeling him from inside the walls of her litter.
And then on the other side of the world, is Helene. His loving and dutiful wife with the most beautiful voice in the world.
A story of love -- in its most obsessive and forbidden nature, raw and erotic, vague and mystifying, and in its most logical quality, faithful and selfless, patient and kind. ...more
I will make a brand new shelf for this book and shall call it slippery-as-waterweed*...do you get it? I hope you do, otherwise I just wasted a reallyI will make a brand new shelf for this book and shall call it slippery-as-waterweed*...do you get it? I hope you do, otherwise I just wasted a really good, dirty joke.
If you like adventure, history and sex, you came to the right place because Outlander by Diana Gabaldon offers each in abundance. Och, ye'll get a lot o' fun oot o' this cheeky novel. Ugh, sorry, residue from reading through the night. And I'm no sure I'm entirely meself quite yet, I feel verra dreamlike and such, I canna stop smiling and my eyes go cross like and I feel half dizzy, ye ken? Anyway, I seem to notice a stigma surrounding this book because its classified as a historical romance. Well, so what? How about we all just indulge ourselves, eh? There's a lot of sex in this book. Once Claire and Jamie come together, they do not let go. But the book is also so well written that I didn't mind that they got it on at every empty corner or room or bush or cave. Gabaldon has written very charismatic, sympathetic and likable characters.
Now if we're going to get critical, I thought the book lacked some definitive plot. I figured Claire's escape and attempt to return to (view spoiler)[Craigh na Dun, so she could return to her time (hide spoiler)] would be the main struggle throughout the novel, but it wasn't really. Then I thought it would be trying to (view spoiler)[clear Jamie's name (hide spoiler)] but no, it wasn't that either. You kind of just meet Claire, travel through time and hang around for things to happen. Another testament to the writing because that would've normally induced me to give up but alas, I enjoyed every chapter. There were also many conveniences that had me rolling my eyes, such as (view spoiler)[Jamie appearing just in the nick of time to rescue Claire from rape or burning at the stake, Claire being barren and Brother Anselm's all too generous absolution of Claire's sins, oh like you know, adultery and murder (hide spoiler)].
There are a lot of historical facts about Scottish life, too. For example, I am now very well acquainted with a Highlander's getup - I can safely identify what a dirk and a sporran is, which is basically a knife and a really cute, Highland version of a fanny-pack. I learned a few Gaelic words which I will refrain from typing because most likely they are pronounced nothing like how they're spelled, so really maybe I didn't learn anything at all. Also, I learned they had traveling policemen called the Watch, though every time they were mentioned I had to resist the urge to scream "Back to the Wall!", get it or is this another wasted reference? But the history here is rather a domestic exploration than a vast political study of Europe; though the novel occurs on the brink of the Jacobite Rising, which I'm expecting will alter the rest of the series. I hope, anyway. I really want a war...
...which I think Gabaldon can pull off. This book does not shy away from the more barbaric cultural modes of the Scotland Highlands in the 18th century. There is open rape, murder, kidnap on horseback, torture, flogging, public executions, amputation of body parts for theft, burning of women accused of witchcraft, arrests without warrants (that one makes me particularly mad), domestic/sexual abuse, primeval medical treatments alongside your customary sword fighting, etc. And the characters are not without their flaws. There are corrupt abuses of power in the name of patriotism, extreme violence in the name of self-preservation. The ones that looked good turned out bad, the ones that seemed the least inviting turned out to be your friend.
So, Outlander. Really good, entertaining book. Its a nicely intimate, subtle epic. Much of the story revolves around the deeply delicious and amusing relationship between Claire and Jamie, who by the way is a darling. So there, I loved it. It consumed me for most of a week. And I bite my thumb at anyone who looks down on this book. It was fun and you know what else, I hope there's just as much sex in the rest of them SAY WHAT!!!
As is the case in Irish literature (and Barry novels come to that) Ireland, war and the Catholic Church are major players in the guessing game of RoseAs is the case in Irish literature (and Barry novels come to that) Ireland, war and the Catholic Church are major players in the guessing game of Roseanne Clear's life. Whose account is true, the diary of an expectantly senile, presumably nuts centenarian or the record of an "all-knowing, stern-minded, and entirely unforgiving" priest who might have been the very person responsible for Roseanne's admittance to the asylum? Its a very sad story and I had the unfortunate luck of taking it on during a not so pleasant time and perhaps that, above anything else, is the reason I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. But that in itself is a testament to Barry as it apparently succeeded in making me feel...like shit, but feeling nonetheless. Because these are beautiful words telling a sorry tale. The language is whimsical (as others have noted) and smooth yet somehow stilted; broken up occasionally in places you don't expect which makes the rhythm a bit like a boat rocking to-and-fro, knocking you off balance here and there while you fight vehemently for fluidity. He's a poet, so there you go. There are surprises, its a mystery game after all. The finale might make your eyes roll in their comfy sockets but hey, it worked for me.
Don't mistake the less than impressive rating to be Barry's fault. Its not Barry's fault. Barry didn't do anything wrong. Its mine. And this is not the end of him. I shall next tackle The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty but I think I'll go read some happy books first. ...more