Where I got the book: review copy provided by publisher. This review first appeared on the Historical Novel Society website and in the February 2014 iWhere I got the book: review copy provided by publisher. This review first appeared on the Historical Novel Society website and in the February 2014 issue of the Historical Novels Review.
Set in 1740, this lively romance has an intriguing plot of cross-purposes as Lady Victoria Lennox tries to escape her sister’s over-zealous vigilance. Her chosen method is to attract Amelia’s attention to a handsome, eligible man by flirting with that man herself, and dragging his equally eligible friend into the scheme.
The stage seems set for a society romp when the plot unaccountably veers into a tale of gypsies with Lady Victoria, wearing breeches, riding around the countryside on a stallion. In my opinion, the original plot was sufficiently fizzy to sustain the reader’s interest without the horsey additions, which led me to ponder whether a duke’s daughter could possibly get away with so many unchaperoned absences from home. Other notable incongruities were that the name Victoria was pretty much unheard of before Queen Victoria’s reign, and that ladies and gentlemen do not call each other “my lord” and “my lady” – this form of address is reserved for servants and the lower classes.
Yet I enjoyed the sheer exuberance of the writing and the sexy, fun interactions between the main characters. A diverting read if you are not too fussy over historical details....more
I went through a major Anne Rice phase at one point a few years ago and then grew out of her. When I saw thWhere I got the book: e-ARC from NetGalley.
I went through a major Anne Rice phase at one point a few years ago and then grew out of her. When I saw that her son Christopher's latest was available at NetGalley I was curious, and in the mood for some horror/thriller.
The plot, or at least a bit of it; Anthem, Marshall and Niquette were high school friends but ten years later Niquette is missing, presumed dead, with the rest of her family, Marshall is a coma patient and Anthem has developed a drinking problem. And weird things seem to be happening around Marshall; small animals and birds are found with exploded heads and the nursing staff are committing random acts of violence.
From that beginning the action shifts back and forth over the years, taking in the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the history of the three friends, and the lives of journalists Ben and Marissa. What slowly unfolds is a story of paranormal power in a New Orleans setting: sound familiar? The Witching Hour, anyone?
So would I have thought Christopher Rice sounded like his Mom if I didn't know the connection? That's the question that's been plaguing me. Because dang, he really does. His writing is less florid, tighter, more action-packed, more socially aware; but there's the same fluid style, the same centrality of New Orleans in their thoughts. I was not expecting so many points at which I found myself thinking this felt like an Anne Rice novel.
And exactly the same criticism as I had of The Witching Hour all those years ago: the story doesn't bear out the promise of the writing. You get all this great atmosphere, creepy tension, some superbly memorable scenes, and in the end these rather comic-book monsters that I felt totally meh about. And not nearly enough was said about Katrina, which in the hands of Stephen King, say, would have provided some truly terrifying wet-your-pants moments that I'd probably still remember ten years later. Which is one of the reasons I don't read much King.
But I digress. This book just didn't work for me as a whole, although it worked very well in parts. I went back and forth between two and three stars because while I thought the plot was just OK (or OK-to-lame) I definitely liked the writing. I feel like Rice isn't really digging deep enough into the darker corners of his psyche, which you really have to do if you're going to write good horror. Either that or he should stick to literary novels, which I think he'd do pretty well....more
Finally did it, folks. Read that American childhood classic everyone else but me seems to have read. OfWhere I got the book: my daughter's bookshelf.
Finally did it, folks. Read that American childhood classic everyone else but me seems to have read. Of course I didn't grow up in America so I have an excuse!
And I liked it. Almost ran upstairs for the next one. Sure, the Indians are portrayed as savages who steal and threaten, and the Ingalls family (who had set up housekeeping illegally in the Indians' territory) make absolutely no attempt to understand or really communicate with them. But that's a pretty typical portrayal of the mindset of white settlers, who believed in their Manifest Destiny to overrun the land, that the only good Indian was a dead Indian, that they were biologically superior and that they would "improve" the land they lived on. All books written in the 19th and early 20th centuries reflect those unpalatable attitudes; our 21st century attitude is to feel outraged because we consider ourselves superior to our ancestors, but I don't suppose many of us would seriously consider inviting the tribes back into our suburbs. Perhaps our great-grandchildren will.
And if the Ingalls family were anything to go by, those settlers were as ballsy as they were naive. They appear to have survived that year on the prairie mostly by dumb luck. If nothing else, this little book gives you an idea of the difficulties and dangers of homesteading and portrays just how frightening the plains must have appeared to the hapless women and children who got dragged into their menfolk's big adventure. I bet Ma Ingalls breathed a huge sigh of relief as they left the Little House behind....more
Where I got the book: public domain freebie on Kindle.
This novel evidently reflects some of Charlotte Brontë's experiences in Brussels, and what it teWhere I got the book: public domain freebie on Kindle.
This novel evidently reflects some of Charlotte Brontë's experiences in Brussels, and what it tells me is that she really didn't like foreigners all that much. But she DID love learning French, which she uses liberally without translation because in her day, any educated person knew French. So we learn from this slightly rambling tale of a well-educated gentleman who thinks the world owes him a living but, alas! he doesn't have sufficient financial resources to keep him in the style to which he'd like to become accustomed. Sponging off his brother doesn't work, so he gets a job in a Belgian school, advances in his profession and meets an independently minded woman who claims her place as his equal and is willing to work alongside him so he can live in the style to which etc. etc.
Do we see shadows of the plot of Jane Eyre? Oh yes. But William is WAY bitchier than Jane; by the time of JE Brontë had evidently learned to make her characters more sympathetic. And if you've read Villette, you'll see elements of that too. This was an early effort by CB, unpublished in her lifetime because it was rejected by several publishers; they were, in my opinion, right to reject it, and it is best viewed as an interesting document of CB's development as a writer. Which still makes it better written than many modern novels, if you understand French or don't mind using a translation app a lot....more
Darting around the timeline of the story of the Mary Celeste, the ship found floating empty on the AtlanticWhere I got the book: e-ARC from Edelweiss.
Darting around the timeline of the story of the Mary Celeste, the ship found floating empty on the Atlantic in 1872, this novel imagines the lives of the captain and his wife, his wife's sister who's blessed or burdened with psychic powers and becomes a famous medium, and the journalist--and later famous novelist--Arthur Conan Doyle who writes a sensationalist, inaccurate story about the Mary Celeste that propels him into the public consciousness.
So there's quite a lot going on. And for a long while it was hard to see how the different threads fitted together; Martin keeps the reader guessing and thinking about a mystery that's never been satisfactorily solved. But in the end I found the story knitted satisfactorily, the pieces united by the image of the sea as a place of death and mystery. Not, on the whole, a good reading choice if you're on a cruise.
I can't say I was ever completely absorbed in the characters, who all seem a little unsympathetic. For that reason I can't give this one five stars. But it certainly deserves four, and maybe a tad more....more
DANG JK Rowling's a good writer. A three-dimensional detective thriller, by crikey! With a well-thought-out, solid pWhere I got the book: the library.
DANG JK Rowling's a good writer. A three-dimensional detective thriller, by crikey! With a well-thought-out, solid plot involving a dead superstar model and some really good London background (did she wander around in a hoodie and sunglasses scoping out locations?)
Looking back (I read this some time ago) I realize I've forgotten who the killer was. I think I do this on purpose so I can re-read mysteries: or did I possibly not care, which is either a tribute to the writing or a sign that I was failing to empathize with the victim? I think I'll call a 50/50 on that.
What I did love was the detective, one Cormoran Strike with the requisite Difficult Past in spades. And the whole side of his temp-turned-devoted-assistant. Very, very nice, and I hope the whole kerfuffle over the revelation of JKR's identity as the author won't put her off writing another Robert Galbraith book. I will read it....more
I have spent the best part of a year listening to the Outlander series and honestly, by this point the boWhere I got the book: audiobook from Audible.
I have spent the best part of a year listening to the Outlander series and honestly, by this point the books are just blending into one another. Most of the time the story isn't really a story so much as a container that holds a whole load of smaller stories, some resolved quickly, others left for later. If things slow down, one of the women gets kidnapped, raped or threatened with kidnap or rape, or all of the above. Which probably happened quite a bit in pre-revolutionary America.
And then Jamie turns up and rescues everyone, and takes Claire to bed. Considering she's about 55 by now she's doing pretty darn well; they don't seem to go much longer than 3 days without a good bonk, Jamie never has eyes for anyone else, and he likes it when she puts on a bit of weight because it goes straight to her lovely round arse. The perfect man indeed.
After hundreds of hours of listening, Gabaldon's writing is pretty predictable. She never passes up the chance to use a well-worn phrase, endlessly describes what Jamie's hair looks like, and loves to go off on a tangent about 18th century science or doctoring. Narrator Davina Porter never flags, although I have known her to mix up an accent here and there.
And you know what? I'll miss these books when I'm done. They may be rambling and way too long but they're fun to listen to. One day I'll probably go back to the beginning again......more
Where I got the book: the library. A book club read.
Tom comes back from the war and takes a job as a lighthouse keeper to get away from humanity in geWhere I got the book: the library. A book club read.
Tom comes back from the war and takes a job as a lighthouse keeper to get away from humanity in general; he's all about duty, correctness and doing the right thing. Isabel, whom he meets and marries during a spell on the mainland, is more of a go-with-the-moment free spirit. Which is fine, except that she keeps having miscarriages and naturally gets all worked up about having a BAAAAABY.
With the kind of timing that only happens in novels, Isabel gives birth to a stillborn child and then IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD a boat washes up on their tiny island with a dead man and...a BAAAAABY.
Free spirit frustrated mother: I TAKE THIS CHILD FOR MY OWN NOBODY WILL EVER KNOW AND MY BREASTS ARE FULL OF MILK. Duty guy: WE MUST DO THE RIGHT THING AND EWWWW.
Guess who wins? (view spoiler)[A few years later the happy family go the mainland and, oh crap, Baby Shipwrecked's real mom is wandering around like a soggy ghost still looking for her. It won't end well. (hide spoiler)]
Well, THAT turned out a whole lot snarkier than I meant it to *views level in whisky glass*
It was actually a very entertaining story and I shed a few tears, I really did. I LOVED the Australian setting and the descriptions of the lighthouse island. I went on Google Maps to see if they were real locations (nope). Apart from a couple of rookie POV mistakes near the beginning (editor, where wert thou?) the writing was pretty darn good. A page-turner, truly. But one of those books where you look back at it and get all snarky (well, at least I do.) You know how so many movies now feel like they're written to a formula BECAUSE THEY ARE? It was a bit like that. Good, but almost too polished.
I think I just complained about a book being good.
All in all, this is probably the weakest of the Paton Walsh Wimsey books. Paton Walsh does a reasonable facsimile oWhere I got the book: my bookshelf.
All in all, this is probably the weakest of the Paton Walsh Wimsey books. Paton Walsh does a reasonable facsimile of Sayers' high-life dialogue, but falls down when it comes to rendering the speech of ordinary people--and this novel puts the Wimseys among the villagers of Paggleham, where Harriet and the children are escaping from the London Blitz while Peter--who, by this time, must be getting a bit geriatric for intelligence work--goes off to Destinations Unknown to do something or the other, purely, I suspect, to raise tension as Harriet worries whether he'll return.
Paton Walsh seems determined to get as many characters from the Wimsey books into this one as possible, along with some code-breaking à la The Nine Tailors. The overall effect is something of a patchwork pastiche, not altogether pleasing to the palate. She's imitating the wartime Wimsey stories, of course; ghoul as I am, I'd much rather she'd dealt with the death of young Jerry, because she handles Wimsey tragic better than Wimsey whimsical.
One for the fans, entirely, with nothing much to commend it to the general reader. An OK mystery, but just OK....more
After reading through the Wimsey series in the last year or so, I found myself reaching for Jill Paton WWhere I got the book: my bookshelf. A re-read.
After reading through the Wimsey series in the last year or so, I found myself reaching for Jill Paton Walsh's authorized continuation of the Peter/Harriet story out of the need for a comforting shot of a world where, amid chaos and murder, two characters have found a still center of mutual adoration. Like Busman's Honeymoon, an awful lot of Thrones, Dominations seems to be devoted to showing the Wimsey marriage as a perfect model of harmony both in and out of the bedroom, based on mutual respect and friendship that dominate but do not stifle physical passion. Ah, how many of us expected love to be like that, and have been disappointed! I don't think any real people can rise to the heights of nobility and intelligence that the Wimseys achieve.
That aside, it's a nice little mystery involving, with rather heavy obviousness, a marriage that contrasts with the Wimseys'; two people engaged in a constant game of oneupmanship and unhappy misunderstanding. Normal marriage, in other words. In late Sayers style it brings in two French characters who possess a deep wisdom in all matters concerning l'amour, another idealization that devoted readers must forgive. I feel that Jill Paton Walsh's main contribution to this novel (which Sayers had sketched out and, I think, started to write but abandoned) might be the plot involving King Edward VIII, the rather worryingly pro-German monarch who abdicated to marry Mrs. Simpson. Sayers tended to ignore history in her novels--except, of course, for the after-effects of World War I, which had evidently made a deep impression on her.
Not a bad story, on the whole, and a decent fix for Wimsey fans who want more....more
In Praise of Angels covers the years shortly afterThis review was first published by the Historical Novel Society. I received a free copy of the book.
In Praise of Angels covers the years shortly after the Civil War, when Reconstruction brings political struggles over the status of the Confederate states and their former slaves and new commercial opportunities occasioned by a rapidly expanding, yet still somewhat loosely regulated, America. Smolev imagines a young reporter, Benjamin Wright, who has seen his family destroyed by war and seeks to uphold the ideals for which his brothers died. Excluded as a younger son from the conflict that has dominated his youth, Benjamin must now fight his own battle and make his own sacrifices in two key events of the early Reconstruction years: the threatened impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, and the scandal that drives Horace Greeley’s presidential campaign four years later over the massive diversion of public money into private pockets during the building of the Union Pacific Railroad.
The novel tackles questions that are still fresh today about the role of the media in standing up to corporate and political might. Benjamin attempts to uphold the American ideals – the “better angels of our nature” of Lincoln’s inaugural address – for which the war was fought, but he does so at enormous personal cost. Despite some moments in which the characters seem to indulge in 21st-century thinking, In Praise of Angels is a plausible, well-researched dramatization of an era which shaped today’s America, for good and bad....more
This novel is the sequel to The Far Side of the SkThis review was first published by the Historical Novel Society. I received a free copy of the book.
This novel is the sequel to The Far Side of the Sky and is set in Shanghai in 1943. Things are looking bad for the Jews who have taken refuge in Shanghai; the Japanese occupying forces have interned the British and Americans and, urged on by their Nazi allies, have forced the Jews into what is effectively a ghetto. Dr. Franz Adler and his Eurasian wife, Sunny, cope with an escaped internee, the Chinese Resistance, shortages in the hospital they run, and increasing threats from both the Japanese and Germans.
Not having read the initial novel, I felt rather overwhelmed by the multiple plot lines and the large cast of characters at first. Once I had sorted them all out, though, the occasional forays into backstory felt intrusive in a novel that could have stood up well by itself. The Shanghai setting added a new dimension to the sadly familiar story of the Jewish people struggling to survive against terrible odds, and I appreciated how the very nature of Shanghai, a polyglot, cosmopolitan city before the war, lent itself to the introduction of a number of different tensions and opposing interests. Having a large number of characters allowed for a balanced, nuanced portrait of a society where each character acted out of his or her own background and allegiances rather than falling onto one side or another along predictable, nationalistic lines.
A slightly impersonal perspective in Kalla’s writing meant that I was not always fully engaged in the emotions of the situation. But on the whole I found this novel to be an interesting insight into an aspect of World War II and the Jewish experience that is not often found in fiction....more
This book contains probably two of the longest days in fiction, and I include in that sweeping statementWhere I got the book: audiobook from Audible.
This book contains probably two of the longest days in fiction, and I include in that sweeping statement entire novels that are based on one day in a character's life. The clan gathering! Jocasta's wedding! Hoots mon, Diana, how d'ye do it? Will I ever develop the authorly stamina that will allow me to spin out a day over a hundred or so pages? It's nae wonder yon Jamie has staying power in bed, given his creator's penchant for dragging things out.
But did I enjoy it? Well, yes. Because I was listening to the audiobook, and that helps a TON. Seriously, if you're struggling with the Outlander series, go audio. Davina Porter's superb rendering of Gabaldon's meandering prose has done much to reconcile me to this story and, incidentally, has helped me retain plot elements much better.
Random thought: Listening to the books also makes me much more aware of Gabaldon's tic of re-using a word she's just used in the next sentence. I kept finding myself mentally inserting synonyms.
Other random thought: there are some pretty damn good reviews of this book on Goodreads.
Yet another random thought: Despite the fact that most writers are told that time-travel stories don't fly, I really like them. ...more
This novel is the fourth in a series of fantasy/stThis review was first published by the Historical Novel Society. I received a free copy of the book.
This novel is the fourth in a series of fantasy/steampunk adventures featuring detectives Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes. For the purposes of this review it is considered on its individual merits, but it draws heavily on events and world-building from the previous novels in the series, and the final chapter sets up the action for the next installment.
Overall I found this novel to be fast-paced and elegantly written. Some oddities of word choice (“…the hours drifting by in a warm, opium-inspired fugue…” “I hope you will forgive me for capitalising so much of Sir Charles’s time…”) and a tendency to paint rather imprecise details such as “strangely coloured liquids,” “occult symbols,” etc., detract somewhat from the flow of the action but are not completely out of place in a story with touches of the fairy tale and of 19th-century popular detective fiction.
I particularly relish the idea of Queen Victoria living past her due date as a villainess on artificial life support, and the repercussions for the Prince of Wales. A fun read for those looking for adventure on the fringes of historical fiction....more
I've been asked, more than once, why I read Philippa Gregory if her books annoy me. (I may have expressed thatWhere I got the book: my local library.
I've been asked, more than once, why I read Philippa Gregory if her books annoy me. (I may have expressed that opinion once or twice.) One of the reasons is that many interesting conversations happen about Gregory's books, notably among readers who like to nitpick dispute the accuracy of her historical claims, and it's a shame to get left out. Like it or not, the Plantagenet and Tudor eras are a major locus of interest for HF readers (I actually prefer the 19th century and rather wish a PG of this era would arise for me to pick holes in mercilessly enjoy) and what with the movies and TV series and whatnot, you get kind of sucked in.
The White Princess is chronologically situated at the very end of the Cousins' War aka the War of the Roses, being the story (or part thereof) of Elizabeth of York, whose marriage to Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII) was intended to legitimize Henry's claim to the throne and put an end to all that nasty infighting between the Yorks and the Lancasters. Of course a marriage alone could never be sufficient to end the dispute; only the TOTAL ANNIHILATION of all York claimants would really make Henry Who? safe on the throne, and thereupon hangs a tale.
(For those who need a recap, Henry grabbed the crown by ensuring that Richard III got chopped up at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, married Elizabeth who had, according to PG, been Richard's mistress, and spent the early part of his reign fathering children to ensure the Tudor succession, raising money by means of nasty taxes, and fighting off people who claimed to be one of the princes who conveniently disappeared from the Tower of London before Bosworth. He succeeded, founding the Tudor dynasty and providing the basis of an entire industry for novelists.)
PG's version differs a bit from my vague notions about Good King Henry Who Brought Peace and Saved Up Lots of Money So That Henry VIII Could Spend It On Wine, Women and Song But Mostly Women. In The White Princess, Henry and his mother Margaret Beaufort are miserly, paranoid johnnies-come-lately who basically have no class at all, in contrast to Elizabeth who knows EXACTLY how to nod and smile to the crowd because a) she's a York and they were rock stars and b) because her parents loved her so she's not insecure, nyah nyah nyah.
(To digress, I have only watched two and a bit (fell asleep) episodes of the TV series The White Queen so far but the nutty, anorexic religious maniac portrayal of Margaret Beaufort cracks me up. I swear I actually saw her gibber, hiss and raise her hands in vampire claws at one point. PG is clearly on the side of the white rose.)
And yes! I give this book three stars! Well, 2.5 really, but I round up. Because:
No magic, yippee yippee yippee! I have for so long deplored the way PG's heroines are all witchy and stuff that I must give a star to the almost total absence of magic in this book. It never added anything to the story. Without magic the story lines are much sharper and the historical context clearer.
Some interesting hints of themes that got my attention, such as how Elizabeth must have felt when her husband was fighting (possibly) her brother to secure his throne for her son. And the portrayal of Henry's lack of belief in himself and how Mad Margaret's habit of reminding him, evidently every day since babyhood, that he was born to be king was the only thing keeping him going. In fact Henry almost became an interesting and complex character on occasions. Except...seriously?...their first meeting?...(view spoiler)["OK, now sit on this, woman." Fifty Shades of Tudor Green, anyone? (hide spoiler)]
When there was dialogue, it was, at times, good. PG can be an entertaining writer.
Still too much naming of names."Surely, no one can think that this boy is my cousin, Edward of Warwick" . . . "Yes. I had him walk side by side with John de la Pole, my friend and ally." ALL THROUGH THE BOOK. People don't talk like that. It totally screws up the dialogue, which already suffers from the dread disease known as As You Know Bob: the characters in this novel constantly explain events to each other and expound on their historical significance. "Because he wants the support of Spain for his invasion," Henry says shortly. "But they will stand as our ally. They will give us their infanta in marriage, and they will capture our traitor blah blah blah." HF readers are not senile old ladies who have to be reminded who everyone is every five minutes, and personally I feel like I'm being condescended to every time PG explains to me.
SO MUCH NARRATION Too much of this story is Elizabeth telling us "And then this happened, and then that happened." And frequently she gets her information second hand, because naturally she's stuck at home while all the good bits are happening elsewhere. It makes the plot way too static.
Our Lady of the Comma Splice is alive and kicking. The thing that really spoils PG's books for me is the lack of variation in her punctuation. She is overly fond of commas, which are useful little beasts, but overusing them causes your prose to bob along in sort of dreamy waves, quite relaxing in their way, but after a while you begin to wish for an em dash, or a semicolon, oh how I'd love to see a semicolon, are they really going out of fashion, maybe I'm a dinosaur, how am I going to bring this sentence to an end, somebody help me, oh thank god a period. I'm not saying PG does this ALL the time, but the overall effect of her writing style is a sort of suburban coziness that spreads like a blanket over all the exciting stuff she's writing about and deadens its impact.
Still, I liked this one more than the last two or three I've read. So I'm wondering, is the Cousins' War series now at an end? PG's confusing website doesn't give us a clue. She could, of course, eke out another book from Elizabeth of York, who isn't dead yet, pairing her story with Catherine of Aragon's to pull the Plantagenet and Tudor stories more firmly together. There is, of course, the matter of The Prophecy, which is the only witchy-ish bit in the book, and could have made quite an interesting theme, but it sort of got dumped on us late in the story instead. (Yes, I know I'm contradicting myself here.) Or perhaps PG will rest on her laurels, put down her Plantagenet pen, enjoy the royalties from her TV series and blow large raspberries at the history police. Which would you prefer?...more
The setting for this inspirational romance is a waThis review was first published by the Historical Novel Society. I received a free copy of the book.
The setting for this inspirational romance is a wagon train heading west in 1866, providing an interesting background for a dual love story. The personalities of the two couples were not quite distinct enough to keep me from being confused at times, but I was entertained by the German background and alcoholic mother of one heroine, the interesting variety of immigrants on the wagon train, the introduction of a character with dementia and the plausible period details. I felt that the author had tried hard to bring complexity and color into this novel to bolster what was inevitably—as in any romance novel—a fairly predictable tale of growing love beset with obstacles.
The spiritual elements of the story were moderately strong but not overly preachy. Some florid phrases such as “her Italian responses flying like bats at midnight” raised my eyebrows, but on the whole I found the writing to be polished, confident and lively with just the right tone for the historical setting. Fans of inspirational romance should enjoy this tale....more
**spoiler alert** Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.
This fourth episode in the Outlander saga covers Brianna and Roger's journey to the 18th**spoiler alert** Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.
This fourth episode in the Outlander saga covers Brianna and Roger's journey to the 18th century and Claire and Jamie's new life in North Carolina with the recently rescued Young Ian in tow. It introduces a new villain, Stephen Bonnet, and a host of new characters ranging from the fairly genteel Scots of Cross Creek to the Tuscarora and Mohawk Indians. It contains the usual number of tragic/near fatal/humorous blunders caused by one character not giving the other characters an important bit of information (why don't these people ever tell the love of their life what they've been up to, because said love ALWAYS finds out and it ALWAYS ends in tears?) Jamie says "Christ, Claire" a lot, and Claire says "REALLY?" a lot more. Roger's accent continues to alter at hourly intervals, which is odd because Davina Porter is SUCH a good reader otherwise. At least one major character is brought to the brink of death and saved by the merest chance.
In other words, the story goes on. Obviously, this is not a standalone novel. If you've got this far you must be a fan of Outlander, and will have formed strong opinions on the story and its characters, so I'm not going to comment much other than to say that this, in my opinion, is the novel in which Gabaldon really gets into the rambling, episodic style she adopts for the rest of the series. Not that you should discount all of the divergent paths as bunny trails; anything to do with the Stones and gemstones is, I think, important, and I'm pretty sure I know who Otter Tooth is. But Gabaldon's joyous curiosity about just about every physical fact of life in past and present is given full rein as Claire and Jamie set up homesteading in the wilderness, and she never uses one word where twenty or so will suffice.
This is definitely a series best absorbed in the form of audiobooks. Porter is superb as a reader and the editing is wonderful; never a variation in tone or obvious break. As a listener I tend to be very aware of Gabaldon's habit of repeating words in a sentence instead of finding a synonym and the annoying nitpicker in me supplies synonyms as I go along, but I am usually interested enough in the next description of a horrible wound in a private area of the body that I forget about this particular quirk. And yes, Claire is a Mary Sue to end all Mary Sues, and Jamie is perfect. Look, if you've got this far, you know what to expect. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, and dinna fash yersel' aboot it....more