Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Writers and readers

Do writers read books? I read fewer these days. Or rather, I finish fewer books. Returning six items to the library last week, I read only two cover to cover.

The other four didn’t hold my interest, and the reasons they didn’t were varied. Too much unneeded information, too little story; too gruesome; too boring; too little/too much character description; an unrealistic storyline plus downright inaccuracies. If this sounds far too critical, let me add that the things that turn me off a story may be just the thing to capture and hold your interest. Who knows?

Gabaldon’s novels are always long, and Echo in the Bone was no exception. The 1000+ paperback kept me entertained all through the Christmas break. I skim-read the bits on the American War of Independence, because not knowing the *real* characters and being geographically challenged as to where things were happening made that part of the story a blur for me, but the story about the fictional characters was endlessly interesting. I grew curious about how old Clare is at this stage of the story*, and looked for the first novel Cross Stitch (now called Outlander in the US) in order to check it out.

Checked the library, no result; passed a charity shop and popped in on impulse and immediately found myself in a discussion of How Could Clare Sleep with Lord Grey after Jamie’s Death, and hadn’t that ruined the whole series for me? Well, no, it didn’t. Who knows what we’ll do in deepest grief? I find Gabaldon’s character psychology so true and occasionally so deep that it makes me think hard about what she’s saying. I never noticed this in her earlier novels, and now I wonder if that was because the younger me didn’t see it, or the younger Gabaldon did not write such pieces.

* At the youngest, early fifties. At the oldest, approaching seventy. Unless, of course, going through the stones keeps you miraculously young, like HRT.

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