Monday, 25 September 2017

Re-reading the Outlander series

Gabaldon's books stand the test of time well. I'm enjoying reading them this time around (only my second venture into them) more than I did the first time. This may have something to do with the fact that I have more leisure time now to read them properly, word for word, instead of flipping through them to get them finished and go on to something else. The fact that I'm writing now may also have deepened my interest. 

As most of the female reading world knows, they are huge books, usually between 800 and 1,000 pages. Most agents and publishers frown on long books these days, so it will be interesting to see how long the last volume, scheduled for 2018, might be.

I'm almost finished Voyager, vol 2. This is the one where they sail for the West Indies to rescue Young Ian and I don't think I have read this one before. I often wondered, as I read later volumes, how they got to America with half their family around them. Now I'm finding out and along with that I'm discovering  some little bloopers. Yes, mistakes.  


They're not huge mistakes or typos, but because it is nice to know that even such famous authors who have huge publishing resources behind them can have the odd little typo, let me tell you what I've found. First of all she refers to Carter Bar as Carter's Bar. For those of you who have maybe never heard of the place, it is about 45 miles from me; the point on the A68 where the land drops over the ridge of the Cheviots from Northumberland into Scotland. If I checked historical maps I might find it was once called Carter's Bar - but so far all I've found is pubs and cafes in Edinburgh called Carter's Bar. 

The author also refers to "a bramble" from Jamie's mother's rose tapping against the window of Lallybroch. I've never heard of roses having brambles but evidently it is used in the US and people with more gardening experience than me assure me the UK catalogues hold a variety of bramble roses. To me, here in the north of England, we call  brambles those wild thorny shrubs that bear blackberries, and we go brambling.  On that point, I cannot accuse the US publisher of being incorrect. 

But when the author has Jamie and Claire sail from France to a port at Cape Wrath in the extreme north west of Scotland with vertiginous cliffs (there wasn't even a lighthouse until the mid 1800s) and no landing place, planning to pick up supplies at Lewes as they sail on to the West indies, I goggled. Cape Wrath is a hell of a place to get to today, never mind in 1760. The clansmen who rode there to meet them there were heroes! Read chapter 42 "We set sail" and then look at Cape Wrath on Google Earth. 

As for Lewes, it is unlikely that they had sailed from France to Cape Wrath and then proposed to sail south around Cornwall and back up the English Channel to Lewes to pick up supplies. Lewis, the northernmost of the western isles, however, would be on their way since they're sailing for Jamaica. 

Two pages on from this and there's an "exclamation of distate."

So many of the places mentioned in the story are real, but there are fantasy places mixed in, such as Ardsmuir prison. I never found where that was except she says it is on the west coast of Scotland near Coigach. Now, Coigach is the hill north west of Ullapool and there are islands off the headland where the gold could have been hidden on the seal's island. but my theory at the moment is that she uses genuine Scots names but not always as real places. It's become like a game for me to know which are which. Looking out for such things does not detract frm my enjoyment of the story; it's almost a bonus! Sad, I know!



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