Sunday, 8 February 2015

Gabaldon and Jamie's charm

My attention has turned to Gabaldon's Written in My Own Heart's Blood now. It was published in 2014 but the waiting list was long at my library and I don't care for the these later novels enough to pay the high price they demand. So I waited, and lo! patience is rewarded.

I remembered that Jamie was thought to be dead at the end of the last book, and that Claire had married Lord John. Then the news came through that Jamie wasn't dead and the book ended. Well, this one starts by trying to kid people that Jamie is still dead. I'm 85 pages in, and Jamie and Claire still haven't re-united. Now some people might argue that this is artful suspense; others might claim this is sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of the author. Keep 'em in suspenders as long as you can!

There will hundreds of fans out there who have no problem with the complex relationships that pepper the series. After so long away, I'm having a hard time fixing who everyone is. The members of the family Fraser aren't so bad; it's the hangers on like Dottie and Rachel who give me problems. Plus which there are new characters no reader will ever have met before. And I see we're still fixed in the American war in 1778. Duh. (I wonder why Americans  like English history so much? I have absolutely no feeling for the American wars of Independence and I assume that unless there are English forebears involved, Americans would feel the same way about English history. But out of the 240 million or whatever the US population is now, only a small percentage will have English roots.)

Gabaldon writes with such detail. Every thought, every wriggle of an eyebrow is recorded. No wonder each book reaches 800 plus pages. Growing bored with it last night I flicked ahead to see what else might be in store and noted two gruesome operations and a time shift section. There are also places where Jamie tells Claire very prettily how much he loves her, and I suspect this is where Jamie's charm lies. Every woman dreams her man will say these things to her!

On the other hand, the writing has a strange page-turning quality I find hard to define. It isn't literary, like Mantel., and not lyrical like Chadwick. Nor is it attention grabbing like Gregory. It is chatty in style, almost as if she were speaking direct to the reader. There is wit in the dialogue, beauty in the description, sound common sense and philosophy mixed. There is also the banal and the commonplace and it does go on at great length, At times I long for the story to move forward. Why haven't Claire and Jamie met yet? I might skip ahead.....

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