Monday, January 10, 2011

What I Am Reading Now-Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

This is the second of the seven book Outlander series.  I have to tell you upfront that for what ever reason these books are fictional crack for me.  Once I open the cover I am not stopping until I get to the end.  Then I usually have to read the first chapter of the next one just to see where it is going.  Just for illustration purposes, the paperback version of this book is 947 pages.  I finished it in under two weeks.

Wikipedia accurately states that you cannot pigeon hole this series.  And I think that is why I like them so much. There is a romance, but a major plot line is the political climate of 18th century Scotland and the impending Jacobite uprising of

1745.  There is also time travel.  The male lead is a virgin (at least in the beginning of the series), the female is not.  So Romance Novel, Historical Fiction, or Scifi?  Pick one.

I highly recommend the first novel in the series entitled Outlander.  Dragonfly is the further adventures of Claire and Jaime in their quest to stop the Jacobite uprising in 1745 in an effort to save Jaime's fellow clansmen from the decimation that happens afterward.  You see, Claire is from 1945 and she knows what happens from having been married to a historian whose specialty was this period.  Claire and Jaime do not know if they can stop the blood letting at Culloden, but they feel they must try.

Their travels take them from Paris and the court of King Louis, to Jaime's home in the Scottish Highlands, to the battlefields of the uprising.  At every turn the couple must individually and together make choices trying to stave off disaster, never really knowing if they will be successful.

Ms. Gabaldon is fantastic at creating a compelling and complicated plot line and life like characters.  I find I am always trying to figure out what is going to happen next.  This couple went through so much in the first book, I couldn't imagine what else they would have to endure.  The main characters are really well drawn.  Claire is the spunky heroine, resourceful, beautiful, smart. Jaime, the masculine leading man, is powerful, a warrior, and a gentle man.  (I think I am in love with him!)  You just have to root for them.  The other characters fictional and not are also very present and all have their own individuality.  The other thing that I really like is that Ms. Gabaldon wraps up her loose ends and even some from the previous book.  Any ends left loose I am sure will be tied up in the next volume, Voyager.  I have to say as a writer, her unbelievably complex plots and subplots and well drawn characters are a little intimidating.  I think to myself, Will I ever write that well?

There were a couple things that I didn't like. There first is that I found in this book was that, for my taste, it was heavily weighted towards the historical fiction aspect.  I now know more about the Jacobite uprising of 1745 then perhaps I wanted to.  She also gets a little too detailed in her descriptions of the surroundings and the internal workings of a character's mind.  The second is the plot line surrounding Claire's first husband, Frank.  She is desperate to prevent Jaime from killing Frank's ancestor, Jack Randall, who absolutely deserves to die.  But aside from this fact, Frank is almost never on her mind in either memory or desire.  So this part of the novel is a little thin for me.  It makes sense, but Claire's feelings for Frank aren't supported by thoughts she has about him.

All in all, I would highly recommend these books to anyone who likes a good adventure story.  The romance aspect is more subdued in this book than the first but it is not appropriate for readers under 16 or so.  There are sexual scenes and graphic violence.  Another note:  Read them in order.  Dragonfly does stand on its own but it will make a lot more sense if you read Outlander first.  Don't be intimidated by the length.  Remember, you read all novels one page at a time.

Next read: Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeanne-
    It's Carolyn's friend, Sharon.
    I had to respond to the post about Outlander because I'm a fan, too. I adore Jamie and do like Claire. They are a wonderful blend of several genres. I liked the first and third in the series. May tackle the fourth soon. They are definitely fictional crack, although I wish they were a little shorter.