Trina (Between Chapters)'s Reviews > Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2016, adult, historical, sci-fi, trigger-abusive-romance, audiobooks

*Heavy sigh.*

[Theme spoilers, but no plot spoilers. Read at your own risk.]

I don't even know where to start because properly reviewing this would involve so much quoting and backing up and I don't have the energy for that after 700+ pages. The short of it is that the romantic hero character perpetuates rape culture by using the words 'rape' and 'sex' synonymously, blaming sexual assault on what the woman is wearing, and claiming that once men get aroused they literally cannot stop themselves from ravaging anyone nearby. His wife, the modern woman, actually shows fear that he will beat and rape her. Though she momentarily gets mad at him, she soon finds herself unable to keep her hands off of him (wash, rinse, repeat), thus showing all the rapeyness in romantic light. That's my problem with it.

Also, if you don't know what an emotionally abusive and controlling relationship looks like, read the last 3 paragraphs of page 677 and the first half of page 678. Jealousy, demands, physical shaking, blaming her for his actions, shaming her past, solving their problems through sex. Oh look at that, I did have the energy to give at least one example. I found this to be unhealthy. Perhaps you don't. But I've lived through a very similar type of relationship and if this is what's selling as "romantic" then this book is part of the problem. I hope and pray that most readers can discern that this is undesirable.

I've discussed cultural relativism on my channel. I can respect when a book needs to show troublesome content to stay accurate to the time period. What I don't respect is this content being romanticized. There are villains in this series who behave the same way. Heroes can absolutely be morally gray, or have a darker side without portraying something harmful. When the villains and heroes act the same, what is the actual distinction between them? Are we just rooting for the hottest one?

I had so many problems with the sexism and rape culture in this book that you may be wondering why I gave it 2 stars? Despite the problematic subjects, I do consider the writing to be of quality. I have no idea if the history was well researched, but it had a depth that felt well researched. To be fair, historical fiction isn't my genre of choice, but perhaps you'd enjoy this more if it is yours.

I did also REALLY enjoy the parts of the book set in the 1960s when Jamie is out of the picture. Yes, I know I'm weird. Isn't Jamie supposed to be the main thrill of the story? Well, not for me. I was much more interested in the way the story played with time travel and its repercussions in Claire's original time. This time period bookended the story and honestly I was reading all of the past setting just to find out how the timelines would converge.

If you're curious, from what I've watched of Outlander season 2, the show DID eliminate the problematic lines from Jamie. The show seems to be a better treatment and so I do think I'll continue the show since it's my preferred, less harmful version of this story that lets the genuinely interesting premise shine.
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Reading Progress

February 27, 2015 – Shelved
February 27, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 6, 2016 – Started Reading
June 6, 2016 –
page 17
June 8, 2016 –
page 40
June 13, 2016 –
page 94
June 14, 2016 –
page 124
16.69% "Struggling. I think this just might be a story I enjoy more as a show and not a book."
June 15, 2016 –
page 132
17.77% ""Lord, woman, have ye no notion what ye look like in that gown? It makes me want to commit rape on the spot." That's the beloved Jamie Fraser, ladies and gents. I can't with this."
June 15, 2016 –
page 138
18.57% "Jamie blames Claire for some dude ogling her and says he must punish her. Claire: "You said you didn't mean to beat me," I reminded him, sitting a bit farther back in my chair, just to be on the safe side. Jamie: "Do I look the sort of man would beat a woman who's with child?" Claire: *I eyed him doubtfully.* YOUR WIFE LITERALLY THINKS IT'S NOT ABOVE YOU TO BEAT HER."
June 16, 2016 –
page 253
June 18, 2016 –
page 333
June 20, 2016 –
page 464
June 21, 2016 –
page 464
62.45% "Jamie just threatened to rape his wife. Before you say "but it's because he had to trick a spy into spilling his information," I would point out that Claire wasn't in on this plan and was mad, struggling, and bared naked in public without her consent. I CAN'T. Being married doesn't mean this is ok."
June 21, 2016 –
page 491
66.08% "RAGE. Jamie: "I thought perhaps ye might be willing to sacrifice your modesty to prevent my havin' to damage the lad, but under the circumstances, I hadna time to ask your permission." 1. He's beaten several people in the course of this series, so just quit making excuses already. 2. He should be adverse to this as both a DECENT HUMAN and as a victim of abuse and rape himself. 3. She just keeps forgiving him!"
June 23, 2016 –
page 587
June 25, 2016 –
page 680
91.52% "I didn't want to do a whole video review for this book, but I just read a scene that's the very definition of a physically and emotionally abusive romance that I'm dying to dissect it as a warning sign to women who think that's romantic."
June 27, 2016 –
page 729
98.12% "A home was described as having a bad smell, garbage not been taken out, and take out containers strewed all over the house. Then this gem: "The woman of the housewas plainly not at home, and hadn't been for some time." And this part is set in the 1960s and was stated in 3rd person narrative, not from a character."
June 28, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016
June 28, 2016 – Shelved as: adult
June 28, 2016 – Shelved as: historical
June 28, 2016 – Shelved as: sci-fi
June 28, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 25, 2017 – Shelved as: trigger-abusive-romance
September 12, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobooks

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Crazy4Books (new)

Crazy4Books Well now I dont feel so bad for not wanting to read it

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I applaud your patience to read this and thoroughness when it comes to reviewing. My attitude would've been "Ain't nobody got time for that" Also, thank you for educating young women when it comes to abusive relationships.

message 3: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Very nice review! I have not yet continued this series and, well, this review helped me decide to not bother. I will continue with the show though

message 4: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Terrill (ReadCover2Cover) I recently got the first in the series because so many people seem to love it, but I hate this kind of stuff. Should I bother with reading it? Is it as bad in the first book? Should I just watch the tv show (if it is any good?)?

Trina (Between Chapters) Alicia wrote: "I recently got the first in the series because so many people seem to love it, but I hate this kind of stuff. Should I bother with reading it? Is it as bad in the first book? Should I just watch th..."

I gave the first book 4 stars. It has MUCH more troubling scenes with the same topics, but I honestly feel that it handled them better because the characters seemed to be showing more critical thought about differences in their time periods. If you're on the fence I would say watch an episode or two and see if you want more.

message 6: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Lawrence I'm about 2/3 done with Outlander and know some of the scenes you are referring to. I'm not comfortable with them, but I do want to finish the book anyway. So is book 2 worse (not sure I want to pick it up) and do you know of the rest of the series continues in the same vein?

Trina (Between Chapters) Shelley wrote: "I'm about 2/3 done with Outlander and know some of the scenes you are referring to. I'm not comfortable with them, but I do want to finish the book anyway. So is book 2 worse (not sure I want to pi..."

Book 2 is less, but worse in my opinion. I don't know about the rest of the series but I don't think I will continue the books.

message 8: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Terrill (ReadCover2Cover) Hmm. I am on the fence with this series. Thanks for the suggestion. I think I'll do that (watch an episode or two first). Thanks also for the great reviews!!

message 9: by Emelie (new) - added it

Emelie I agree with you. As a feminist I'm having trouble with this aspect of the novels. It really bothers me. I'll probably watch the TV show from now on.

message 10: by Andra (new) - rated it 1 star

Andra I'm reading the book now and, I must say, I really don't want to finish it. I liked the first one, despite its flaws, but this is just too much. It varies from disgusting to annoying to outrageous and back to disgusting. When they reunite after the miscarriage and her audience with Louis, she is actually asking to be beaten, because she can't stand Jamie being silent and upset?!? And this is just an innocent example. To my disappointment, only a few pages are actually a nice reading.

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