Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I am Reading Now - "Voyager" by Diana Gabaldon

Spoiler Alert: I will discuss some plot points so if you haven't read the book and want to stay in the dark, stop reading now.

This is the third in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.  In the interests of true confession, I will tell you upfront that I am completely addicted to this series.  I time reading these books carefully because I know if I pick it up, I won't be able to put it down.  Definitely a vacation read.  The biggest impetus to get through these long novels is the fundamental desire to know what else could possibly happen to this couple.  I had to laugh because I recently read a blog post through Writer's Digest entitled "6 Common Plot Fixes," number three being "Add another level of complication."  Diana Gabaldon takes this suggestion and multiplies it by a thousand.  Nothing in her novels is ever straight forward.  Jamie and Claire finally are back together after twenty years, but they have to go through another 700 pages of adventure that take them half way around the world before they can even think about drawing a breath.

As I read the novel, I felt there was something missing, something unsatisfying in a way that I couldn't put my finger on. It wasn't until the end of Chapter 59 that I realized that Jamie and Claire hadn't really reconnected until that point of the book.  That unlike typical romance writers who would have had the couple completely back together at the beginning of the book, Ms. Gabaldon treated them like people who really had been separated for twenty years.  It took time for them to get to know each other again and reveal all the deep dark secrets that occurred in their years apart.  It was a very interesting and subtle use of character.

Another thing that struck me was how strong her characters continue to be.  Jamie and his commitment to doing what is right and Claire head strong as always.  I remember reading a passage where Jamie tells Claire to stay put and chuckling to myself and thinking, "Yeah right, Claire never stays put."  The brilliant thing is that it is their basic character traits that drive the plot for the novels, not the other way around.  They have to take the next steps no matter how perilous because it is not in either of their natures just to leave things lie.

I do have to say that I wish she had broken this novel up into two or three books.  There were a couple places where it could have been separated easily.  The problem was that I returned home after vacation and was on page 700 or so.  I was really busy and was afraid to pick the novel up to finish it because I didn't have time for a twelve hour reading jag.  I was still having that weird incomplete feeling about Claire and Jamie and the book was beginning to feel like work.  I began thinking of Diana Gabaldon as The Dominatrix, standing over me wearing her thigh high black leather boots, snapping her whip and shouting at me, "Read It! Read It!"
Like any junkie, I finally couldn't resist and picked up the novel and finished it.

These novels do defy description.  If there is a time traveling, romance, period fiction, action/adventure genre then this book fits neatly into it.  The best thing I can say is that I am working against my addiction for now. I know it will over take me eventually because long after I finished the book and put it down, it continues to haunt me.  Images keep coming up, questions lingering.  Next vacation I'll probably be reading the next one "Drums of Autumn."


  1. I have just finished this book too and like you, I am captivated by the story. I am doing it the easy way however: I listen to the books on Audible. I'm not much of a one for sitting for very long and find I can listen to the books while I do other daily chores; cooking, cleaning, even gardening! I dont suffer the Dominatrix syndrome, however,sometimes I wish the story would never end! I've started Drums of Autumn today and love knowing there are another 4 books yet to come! Give Audible a try, I doubt I'll ever go back to "reading".....

  2. @Lawless: I am afraid to do audible books because I tend to space out when I am listening to the radio and I am afraid that I will miss something. I do know a lot of people who use them though and I should probably give it a try. It would be interesting because listening to a written work being read vs. reading it can alter significantly how a piece is perceived. Maybe I'll try listening to something I have already read and know well just to experiment. Thanks for your comments!

  3. @Jeanne Tepper It does take some getting used to. When I read, I am unable to do even a reasonable accent in my head whereas listening to them, opens up a whole new world! Good narrators can bring many different characters to life with such skill, I am sure you will be amazed. As a suggestion, you could try "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne, narrated by Tim Curry. Recently released on Audible, this original tale is well known and I found it conjuring up all I had seen in the movies over the years! Good luck!

  4. @Jeanne Tepper
    They do take some getting used to but the more you listen, the more competent you become, like most things in life! I recently listened to "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne, narrated by Tim Curry. It would be a good first read if you want to try. It is 8 hours in duration and a well known story so would probably give you an idea if you would like this medium. I am a very slow reader of the printed word as I try to take in as much detail as possible and do (very bad) accents in my head!! I am Australian, so to me, everyone else has an accent! Listening to Davina Porter(narrator)do Jamie Fraser's scottish accent is something I will never achieve, in my head or not!

  5. @Kofee: My sister is a big audio book reader (listener?) too. I promise to give it a try. I know my library has a lot of titles, so I will start there. I have also heard that the audio book for "Outlander" is fantastic. I promise to give it a try!