Marcie's Reviews > Lord John and the Private Matter

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon
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's review
Jul 27, 2008

really liked it
Read in August, 2008

I resisted reading any Lord John stories for a very long time, despite being a huge Gabaldon fan. I just couldn't get behind a gay lead, didn't understand the appeal or potential of this character. I didn't get it, without even trying it. Recently I saw Gabaldon at a sci-fi convention, and to get in the mood for it, I dug out this book, which I had snagged at a library discard sale for a buck or so.

I get it now. He's delightful. Imagine a slight, blonde, aristocratic, rich, devastatingly smart and witty professional soldier, a Major in Her Majesty's service in 1757, who finds himself up to his impeccable chin in murder, mayhem, and mystery. It's like both William Powell and Myrna Loy (of the old Thin Man movies) rolled into one character, with a touch of television's Monk thrown in.

Fun! He is so particular about his clothes and appearance and there's this running subconscious dialogue interspersed with the bigger external picture unfolding in his head that goes something like this: "Ah, ha, so the Scanlons have flown the coop which must be a big clue!...and I seem to have lost a button on my waistcoat." He is always picking at a loose thread, flicking lint on his shoulder, noticing every detail around him. You can just picture his futzing.

He is also very adept at the dry one-word reply – indubiously, quite, likely, mayhaps. I really enjoyed it, and should have had more trust in her unbelievable writing talent. Interestingly, the one "sex scene" involving Lord John was very well-done, compelling, and poignant and definitely germane to the story. He simply loses himself, tastefully fades to black, and whispers "Pretend…I am not here." And I truly believe he wishes it were so.

Contrast his fastidious personal quirks with his loathsome outward duty, and you've got a very entertaining setup. He is the only one in the room who will sink his fingers into the mushy scalp of a corpse for a clue or carry around the reeking blood-soaked remnant of a garment with which to confront the bad guy. Then there's his fiercely protective little side kick, a ragamuffin English boy who follows him around and insists that he be his valet. The little boy is just as comical, giving "me lord" the steely eye as he makes him drink MANY egg whites as a poison antidote and tries to mend his endlessly destroyed clothes.

I can't wait to read more Lord John. Undoubtedly.
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04/03/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Krista (I remember you, Min) (Critical) "I just couldn't get behind a gay lead." Do you realize how bad that sounds? Honestly, keep your homophobia to yourself.

Marcie Interesting how total strangers feel compelled to comment on others' thoughts and opinions, as if they are the thought-opinion police, or as if their comment matters.

I actually don't think it sounds bad; I think it sounds honest. Some of my closest friends are gay, but my appreciation and respect for my friends does not extend to the personal desire to read a detailed gay love scene, which I thought Gabaldon might explore in the book (and does in my later reading of Lord John).

Homophobia, hmmm. Heterosexuals do find homosexuality as distasteful as homosexuals find heterosexuality. And yet many of us are able to love and respect each other as people without hate and judgement and insisting others EXPERIENCE our lifestyle choice through characters in personal reading.

Thank you for reminding me that I can read and think and say whatever I want. And you can, too. I prefer it not be in my personal area, though. I suppose you feel awesome, that you have "defended" homosexuals everywhere with your inflexible, uncreative thinking expressed in your Internet hit-and-run cyber-jab. I hope someday you realize it wasn't even necessary. Happy reading, random Internet person.

message 3: by Jo (new)

Jo Schaffer She has a lot of gayness in her books. I really enjoyed the Outlander series...not sure I could get excited about a hero who wasn't into women. (=

message 4: by ~ Lihllith ~ (last edited Apr 24, 2012 08:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

~ Lihllith ~ After reading your review and a couple of others you've convinced me to give this a try! I, like some others, was skeptical about reading this series. Thinking it that I wouldn't care enough about the character to be interested or thinking I would feel awkward reading a gay love scene.

Since reading Voyager and now the Drums of Autumn I'm starting to develop a strong liking for the eloquent, cool headed, impeccably dressed Lord John Grey.

Also I've just finished a series that has introduced me to a gay couple and I have to admit, love is love in all it's forms. Always pleasing to read a well written scene no matter the sex of the couple involved.

So ignoring the negative comment from your "random internet person" above. I liked your review and you've convinced me to give Lord John Grey series a try.

message 5: by Jo (new)

Jo Schaffer Oh-- sorry--I wasn't trying to be rude or start a fight. I just meant--I enjoy reading romance that I can relate to as a straight person. I'm sure homosexuals feel the same and would rather read gay romance. It's all good. Chocolate or vanilla.
That being said--Gabaldon is very talented and anything she writes is probably excellently written.

message 6: by Jo (new)

Jo Schaffer Marcie wrote: "Interesting how total strangers feel compelled to comment on others' thoughts and opinions, as if they are the thought-opinion police, or as if their comment matters.

I actually don't think it s..."

Well said.

~ Lihllith ~ Jo wrote: "Oh-- sorry--I wasn't trying to be rude or start a fight. I just meant--I enjoy reading romance that I can relate to as a straight person. I'm sure homosexuals feel the same and would rather read g..."

I wasn't talking about your comment! I ment the rude person who commented first.

I can understand your comment. I felt the same way. Hard to imagine yourself in the story when the story doesn't involve a female love interest. But, like I mentioned earlier I've been introduced to a very imtimate gay relationship in another series. By the time things start to happen between them I'm so involved that sex scenes are totally organic to the storyline. Her writing is very organic to the point where I think I could read any gay scene she writes and feel the intimacy of the scene and not awkward about it.

Nicole Marcie I like your review, and your response to that first comment. I'm in the same boat as far as not being interested in the lead character. Changed my mind and decided to go for it when I finished MOBY. I read a review where the reviewer said that MOBY is better when The Lord John series has already been read. I love Lord John. He is a great character. I'm fine with anything gay, but don't need bedroom I don't need to hear about a parent's romantic exploits. Kind of the same thing.

I support gay rights. I love and accept family members and anyone really who happens to be gay, trans, white, black, yellow, orange or purple. Not to mention neurodiversity! Hello!

Kudos to you for your eloquent response.

message 9: by Molly (new) - added it

Molly Hill I haven't read any of the Lord John books and didn't think I ever would, I just didn't connect with his character UNTIL I read Drums of Autumn. It wasn't until he is staying at Jocasta's with Bree that his character really developed and became interesting and likable to me. I can't wait to read these now!

Alissa Gabriel Nice review!

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