Please Note: This review speaks candidly about all aspects of this novel, including the ending. If you don’t want to read details about the ending, please do not read this review.
I was very happy to finish this novel – partly because I am happy to finish any book, even a great one, but also partly because I wasn’t enjoying this novel very much. Diana Gabaldon’s work is so uneven in quality. When I heard her speak a few weeks ago, she made some remarks along the lines of “I don’t write drafts, and I don’t allow my editor to make changes to my work. I am a professional writer, and I deliver only polished manuscripts to my editor and publisher,” and I just don’t understand how it’s possible to stand on a stage in front of hundreds of people and make these sorts of statements when one’s writing is sometimes so appallingly bad.
In my opinion, here’s how Gabaldon’s Outlander novels rate in terms of quality:
- Voyager (#3 in the series) and A Breath of Snow and Ashes (#6)
- Outlander (#1) and Dragonfly in Amber (#2)
- Drums of Autumn (#4) and An Echo in the Bone (#7)
- The Fiery Cross (#5) and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (#8)
I’ve written several progress reports on this novel, which you can read here, here, and here. This novel is an attempt to bring closure to the many plots and subplots and sources of tension in this series, and for the most part it does so, although plenty of plot lines fizzle out without really being resolved. Here’s a quick summary of the second half of the book:
The Revolutionary War drags on and on and on – as wars are wont to do, I know, but in this case this war slowed the novel down to a crawl. Jamie Fraser is a general for a while, and Ian is a scout in the Continental army, having promised his Quaker wife that he will not be a soldier. Claire goes where Jamie goes, doing her usual brilliant work as a battlefield surgeon. For most of the novel, the primary characters are living in Philadelphia, which is under the Continental Army’s control after the British withdrew early in the book. The military governor of the city is one Benedict Arnold, who appears every now and then to be benevolent and charming and once even serves as Claire’s surgical nurse during an amputation. In the scenes about William and Lord John Grey and the other British officers, Arnold also appears as his alter ego John Andre, but nothing ever comes of his presence in the novel. Almost every time Claire sees him, she spends at least a couple of paragraphs berating herself for not knowing enough about American history to know exactly when and how Arnold will betray the rebels to the British – but this betrayal never happens in the novel. I’m not saying that it necessarily should happen, as Benedict Arnold is definitely a minor character in the novel, but Gabaldon foreshadows his betrayal so often that she has an obligation, I think, to either bring this plot strand to its end or cut it out entirely.
As I said, the war scenes go on forever. Claire gets shot, and she directs Denzell Hunter in how to remove the bullet from her liver while she is under the influence of laudanum. Jamie nurses her back to health, and a lot of parallels are made to the ending of Outlander, when Claire tends Jamie’s physical and psychological wounds. Ian and Rachel and Dottie and Denzell get married, in a Quaker ceremony in a Methodist church, and then of course they all have sex, sex, and more sex. Fergus and Marsali and their children are still living at his print shop. Lord John Grey and his brother the Duke of Pardloe make occasional appearances among the Fraser clan, in spite of the fact that they are, you know, the enemy.
While all of this was going on, all I wanted was a return to the 1730’s, where Roger and William Buccleigh MacKenzie are having a series of fascinating experiences. They meet the ancestors of pretty much all of the major characters in the novel. Geillis Duncan (Buck’s mother and Roger’s many times-great-grandmother) comes back into play and performs some kind of sex act with Buck (the time-traveling version of her as-yet-unconceived son). But Geillis seems to be in the novel only because readers wanted her to return – she doesn’t do anything interesting. Similarly, the time-traveling doctor that has some kind of weird blue light emanating from his hands has no role in the ongoing plot at all. He does heal Roger’s larynx (which was injured in his botched hanging in Drums in Autumn), but then he just fades out of the novel and goes home to have some more sex with Geillis Duncan.
After she recovers from her gunshot wound, Claire asks Jamie to take her back to Fraser’s Ridge, their home in North Carolina. Jamie obliges, but the process of getting there takes a while, and the family spends some time in Savannah, GA before they leave for Fraser’s Ridge. For me, the only real strength of this novel is the fact that Claire is finally starting to feel the effects of the traumas she has sustained in earlier novels. In A Breath of Snow and Ashes, she is raped, and her rapid recovery from this attack has always bothered me. After her gunshot wound, Claire seems to finally be feeling the effects of this rape. When they are close to Fraser’s Ridge, she sees one of the men who raped her in a general store, and she essentially has a panic attack. I found this incident entirely plausible, and I am glad to see Gabaldon portray Claire as something less than completely invincible and imperturbable.
When I was mired in the long war scenes, I texted my friend Kate (who had already finished the book) and said that the only thing that could save the book for me at that point would be if an elderly Roger MacKenzie were to show up on the battlefield at Saratoga looking for Jamie and Claire. Roger spends most of the novel in 1738 looking for his son, Jem, who was kidnapped at the end of An Echo in the Bone. Roger insists that he will never go back to 1980 without Jem, because he can’t know for sure if he will be able to time travel again and leaving might mean abandoning Jem forever. I got excited thinking about Roger living the next forty years in the past (hey – it even works out to forty years. Biblical symbolism, anyone?) and then traveling to America, knowing that he will be able to find Claire and Jamie there. There is one flaw in this plan, which is the fact that Roger believes that it is impossible for two versions of oneself to live at the same time, and Roger was in the past in the early 1770’s and would have had to pass through those years in order to get to 1778. Gabaldon would have had to work some magic to allow Roger to survive these years, but I think for the purpose of the narrative it would have been worth it. One of the benefits of writing about TIME TRAVEL is the fact that the story is absurd from the get-go, so there is nothing stopping the writer from making the absurd seem normal.
What happens at the end of the novel is that Brianna, Roger, Jem, and Mandy show up at Fraser’s Ridge. Jamie and Claire see them coming, recognize them, and start running toward them – and that’s the end. The title of the last chapter is “But you knew that,” which is kind of funny, and I did want the entire Fraser/MacKenzie family to be reunited at Fraser’s Ridge, but I really think Gabaldon missed a lot of opportunities here. There is a logistical problem, first of all. In the 1980 plot line, Brianna takes Jem and Mandy to California for some reason vaguely related to TIME TRAVEL and then goes back to Scotland to make the journey. They meet up with Roger in 1738, and the impression I got was that they were planning to go back to 1980. The next time we see them, they are arriving at Fraser’s Ridge. I would have liked to have seen Roger get stuck in 1738 (maybe he tries to travel through the stones again and cannot?) and then turn up in 1778 as an old man. Then I would like to see Brianna and Jem and Mandy travel back to 1778 – which is when they think Roger time-traveled to – and be reunited with the elderly Roger. I would have liked to have seen this happen halfway through the novel at most, so Gabaldon could explore the possibilities for tension and conflict that would result.
This possibility is not the only narrative thread that Gabaldon leaves unexplored. Percival Beauchamp is still wandering around antagonizing Lord John Grey, but his plot to restore Fergus to his rightful role as King of Canada (I’m exaggerating here, but not much) is never developed. We never learn whether Monsieur Raymonde from Dragonfly in Amber was a time traveler or not. Early in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, William meets an outdoorsman named Natty Bumppo, and we never learn why he has this name – is he a time traveler, using this name as code to prompt questions from other time travelers? Nothing ever comes of the letter Brianna receives from the late Frank Randall early in this novel, which reveals a Macbeth-like prophesy that suggests that the last of the MacKenzie line (which, presumably, is Jem?) will rule all of Scotland. We also never learn the answer to what I think is one of the most interesting questions raised by the series: why do Geillis Duncan (whose married name is Abernathy in Voyager) and Claire’s friend Joe Abernathy have the same last name?
I’ve already said that Lord John Grey reminds me of Ben Linus, and in some ways this series is like Lost. Both works ambitiously aim to sync past, present, and future. They can be grandiose, offering possible explanations of the mysteries of the universe, while also focusing in on the most minute details of their characters’ personal lives. The tension in both works is heightened by an endless chain of secrets. But at the same time, neither series comes close to answering all of the questions it asks. I don’t mind this problem too much – the inconclusive endings certainly don’t make me regret going along for the ride – but both series would be better if more attention had been paid to resolving the many fascinating subplots in each series.
Gabaldon has said that Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is not the last installment in her series, as had been previously announced. On the one hand, this is a good thing, because she will have another shot at developing and concluding the novel. However, the fact that she plans to move on with the series makes it all the more problematic that she ended this novel the way she did, with the happy reunion of the Frasers and the MacKenzies. This is yet another reason that I like the idea of Roger having aged forty years before he reunites with Brianna – that plot development would have left enormous possibilities for future conflict, comedy, and character development.
This novel is not one of Gabaldon’s best, but there is still something about this series that keeps pulling me in. The characters – well, except for William – are compelling, and Gabaldon can be quite funny. It bothers me that Gabaldon’s enormous fan base makes her feel that she can publish sloppy writing, and I’m sad that so many nuggets of possibility in this novel are left unexplored.
This was the worst book yet in the Outlander series, I call it a “money” book as Gabaldon must have had a lot of bills coming due. So lets see, Roger goes looking for Jen, Briana goes looking for Roger and lands right down the road from were Roger is going! Ridiculous! There are many cases of just plain meetings and other items that are just no plausible. I think I will try to return the book to Amazon, they pretty much refund my money regularly.
I totally agree, though I still think The Fiery Cross was just a little bit worse. In addition to the coincidental meetings like the one you described (you would think the Frasers, the Hunters, and Lord John’s family were the only people in the American Revolution!), this book consistently avoids conflict by keeping the main characters so isolated from one another for the first 400-500 pages of the book. It’s hard to imagine a book committing these two errors at the same time, but Gabaldon got it done.
I’m so excited to read the next Novel. I just finished “Written in my own hearts blood ” I’m hoping In the next one that Brianna brings helpful gifts to her Family. Things like tools for her Da & Surgery tools for her Mom . Knowledge about putting indoor water & toilet, but do it rustic. Aside from that , I’ll wait for Diana to do her magic. Love love the series! Thank you ( i was able to live in the 18th century, while dealing with my Son’s death ) it helped me a great deal!
Thanks for reading and for your comment. It’s great when books can be a consolation and an escape. So sorry to hear that you lost your son.
They all thought Roger & went to him
Interesting perspectives on the book. Definitely not my favourite as well. Lots of skimming. Too much war. Too many instances of characters being in the same place at the same time. Agree about the Roger-Bree truncated “story”. Odd choices of “scenes”. Lack of balance in the overall narrative. Roger and his dad -well it was moving to read but all too brief. Yes, Jamie-Claire apart far too long in the first part. Death, destruction, gory surgeries and then Henri-Christian had to die??? William got a foot in the door but not much further. The Jane subplot, meh. Good character, lots of potential but unsatisfactory resolution. Dottie + Rachel, however, good stuff, good character development. Jenny – marginal. Ian slightly less so. The ending – somewhat predictable. Roger + Bree had been out of the loop/off the page so long what else was Diana to do? Ultimately, and I felt this about the last book, the Fraser clan is getting a little too “clannish” for my taste, especially now with the return of Roger, Bree and kids. There is an “inner circle” building and I do worry about how Diana will construct the next book.
Yes – I agree with just about everything you said. I didn’t even think to put Henri-Christian’s death in my review. On the one hand, the mortality rate for young children was very high in the 1700’s, and maybe Gabaldon felt she needed to kill off one of the many Fraser children in order to be more realistic? But I think if she felt she needed this death, she should have integrated it into the larger plot. I’m not sure how she could make it work, but it has to mean something, and as the book stands, it means nothing.
One word that describes this book is “diluted.” All the elements of a good story are there, but they are watered down by characters who barely grow and change.
Thanks for reading and for your comment!
Great review…I hate it when I am reading and I say to myself “what,wait a minute!?!”
The plot manipulation in this book constantly kept my eyes rolling.
Most importantly you are spot on, all the books needed a good editor, someone to keep DG on track and on focus. The books are too long and tho I love the history element, most of it’s boring.
And how did Bree and Roger end up at Fraser’s Ridge when they were in the wrong time zone? It would not have existed in that time period. Did they go through the stones in Scotland to come out in the americas in 1778? I know DG will address it in the new book but it will be long winded.
Yes, good point! I think I just made the leap that they went BACK to 1980-whatever, made the choice to relocate back to the 18th century permanently, then did it – but nothing in the novel indicates that, and it could have been handled so much more shrewdly in other ways. Yet somehow I know I’ll read every word of the next one… 🙂
Natty Bumppo is from James Fenimore Cooper’s book Last of the Mohicans.
Yes, I know – but that book wasn’t written yet in 1778, when a character with that name pops up in this novel. So either Gabaldon is marking that character as another time traveler who knows the book, or she is suggesting that Bumppo was a real person, which he was not.
There is a book series called “Into the Wilderness” by Sara Donati that focuses on Natty (Hawkeye) Bumpo’s son and his family. It takes place around 1800 and there is a brief mention of a “healer woman” Claire Fraser and her husband. I think this may have been a reference to that. Good series also.
Oh – that’s interesting. Maybe Gabaldon and Sara Donati are friends. Good detective work – thanks!
The one and only Hawkeye – good catch!
Agree with many of the above comments. I finished the book and was somewhat relieved, it was not as good as I had expected but I was still glad that some of the unsatisfactory unfinished business from the previous book had been tidied up.
Perhaps one of you can help me out with the following:
Did I miss or skim an important part of this book? After Roger, Bree and the kids are reunited in 1738, how do they all manage to end up at Frasers Ridge in 1778 ??
I assumed that they did it in the usual way: they tied up loose ends, made sure they had gemstones, and went through the stones and to the ridge uneventfully. I wanted them to have more adventures and mishaps. 🙂
At first I assumed that as well.
However, since the author repeatedly makes such a huge deal about the extreme dangers and risks of going through the stones, without any reasonable guarantee in which time somebody ends up, that just does not make any sense to me. One or more of them could have ended up elsewhere or dead.(Like Rogers father, who ended up in parts unknown). To me it seemed a bit ridiculous that the 4 of them were happily walking up the Hill as if they had taken the bus…. a few pages dedicated to their adventures along the way would have made it more “believable”.
Note to self: I should not take time travel so seriously, lol
Yes, agreed! I thought she had so many chances to weave a great story around their arrival at the ridge. What I REALLY wanted was for Roger to get stuck in 1738 and be forced to settle and grow old there, and THEN show up at the Ridge as an old man – and then Claire could have arranged for a letter to be hidden at Lallybroch for Brianna to find (in this version of the story she would not have time traveled with the kids to find Roger). When she found the letter, then she and the kids would go back, but they would be their same age while Roger would be fifty years older.
Sigh… so many missed opportunities. 🙂
Joe Abernathy’s past relative was the slave on Geilis’ Rose hill plantation. Many slaves took their owners last name. I think it may be as simple as that. The slaves’ name was Ishmael (the same man Claire saved on the ship and was part of the crocodile head wearing ceremony) and that was also the name Joe Abernathy’s son took when he changed his name back to his African ancestors.
Thanks! I more or less assumed that Joe was a descendant of Geilis Duncan’s slave (or of a union of Geilis herself and one of her slaves – I kept waiting for Joe to find out that he can time travel too), but I missed the Ishmael connection. I still think the fact that Gabaldon doesn’t develop this thread is a failure on her part – especially in such a long series, she should have no excuse not to follow up on each lead she drops, if only to resolve it in a few sentences. Shouldn’t Claire have picked up on (or wondered about) the connection between her good friend Joe and Geilis Abernathy?
Just wanted to pitch in my 2 cents… She does wonder about the connection, on board of the Artemis, while Jamie is interrogating Ischmael (Voyager). She closes her eyes and hears Joe talking instead of Ischmael. I thought it was pretty clear that she concludes that Ischmael was the great- great-… grandfather of Joe.
Thanks for the rest of the review! Most of your thoughts are my thoughts exactly. Except for Roger living on in the past en reuniting with Brianna when he is an old man. Poor Roger had been through too much in my opinion 😉
Yes to everything you say here about Joe and Ishmael – I just wish Diana Gabaldon had done more to develop this part of the plot. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Isn’t Natty Bumppo one of Nathaniel’s names in The Last of the Mohicans? I believe that is just a nod to James Fenimore Cooper.
Yes, but my original concern with that detail is that The Last of the Mohicans wasn’t written yet in 1778, when the novel is set, so if it’s just a nod (as you suggest, which is possible) it’s also an anachronism – and a strange one that doesn’t do much to add to the novel as a whole. If you scroll down through the comments, one of my other readers told me about another historical fiction series by Sara Donati, which is about Natty Bumppo and his family. In that series, there’s a minor character named Claire Fraser, who is identified as a “healer woman.” I think Gabaldon and Donati may be nodding to each other… 🙂
The novel wasn’t published until later, but The Deerstalker, The Last of the Mohicans, and the other books in the series are set during just before the French and Indian War to just after the Revolutionary War. It’s much the same how Gabaldon’s modern timeline stretches from 1945-1980 though she didn’t publish her first book until the 1990’s. So it is very plausible to have these fictional characters meet.
I think I’m just opposed to having fictional characters from disparate works meet in the first place. It’s a little too cute, for one thing, but it’s also similar to the way Claire et al are always running into Benedict Arnold every few chapters. And if she’s determined to bring other fictional characters into her novel, she should at least develop these characters and make them matter.
I actually greatly enjoyed this book. I have to admit I skimmed a lot because some of the scenes , especially the ones with William or Lord John just did not interest me in the least, but I truly enjoyed the loving relationships which were portrayed here and what appears to be positive character development and spiritual growth. Maybe it is just because I am an older person, but I have to admit that all the fiery oppositional behavior and the extreme angst amongst the couples of this series rather exhausts me so I was so happy to see the joy and depth of the feeling expressed, particularly at the end of the book. I enjoyed revisiting the ridge and the people there and the rebuilding of the big house. The subplot of Roger and Brianna was actually interesting and touching, particularly the ultimate reunion and the dealings with Brian Fraser. Denzell, Dottie, Ian and Rachel also delighted me and I greatly enjoyed all of the humor in the book. I guess this one just delivered a few warm and fuzzies, which I seem to be wanting right now.
It’s interesting — i’ve gotten several comments from readers who say that they skim the slow parts of the book in order to enjoy it more fully, which makes me realize that I never skim parts of books. This may be because I used to teach high school English and had to be prepared to talk about all parts of the book, or it could be that as a fiction writer it really matters to me to understand how all parts of a novel fit together. I do think it’s a weakness of Gabaldon’s books that do many people feel compelled to skim them, but as a reader I would probably be happier if I let myself skim a little. Thanks for your comment!
Yeah I skimmed too…most of it. Returned the audiobook. Even Davina couldn’t pull it off. I was very disappointed. Anne Rice is the same type of author.,she won’t allow an editor. Her work is sometimes almost unreadable. I love putlander but I think Diana is giving us crappy work because she is famous. I read somewhere that well known authors usually put out worse stuff the longer they write.
Gabaldon has an enormous ego – that was clear when I heard her speak (an event that I mostly enjoyed, but still…). I think the question of whether writers’ work declines as they become famous depends on the ambitions and work ethic of the writers. Many writers are perfectionists, and their ability to hone their work improves with each book. Others, like Gabaldon, think of themselves as celebrities who can do no wrong.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
I agree with your review wholeheartedly. This was my least favourite of the series so far and I skimmed lots of the war bits and towards the end I skimmed a lot as well just to get it finished. Seems like she seriously needs to edit more if you ask me. Some of the plot lines just went nowhere, and some of the characters were there for such a short time and then never mentioned again, weird. The whole Roger Brianna bit was interesting then just dropped until the last pages, WTH? very odd writing and don’t know if I will even bother reading her next one…
I think she has so many loyal readers that she could publish almost anything at this point. I hate to see a good storyteller descend into such sloppy work…
Thanks for the honest and really concise review. I am glad to have found your blog. As a long time (published) non-fiction writer and recent author, who began my writing career getting paid to write fiction; short stories, poems, and do illustrations for a national youth magazine, I am probably (like you with your teaching background) a bit more picky, or, critical, when reading any works. That certainly includes my own writing and my husband’s (who has published five successful books with one of the largest publishing houses in the U.S.).
Since I’ve assisted on initial phases of editing on some of husband’s work and currently editing and copy proofing his next (non-fiction) book, I can’t seem to read with pure abandon and wish I could! I think having an editor’s eye makes one instinctively narrow in on indescrepencies, errors, etc., and that can take away from the fun of merely reading for entertainment. While I loved D.G.’s first three books, the 4th and now, the fifth almost seem like another author has penned them.
I am currently dredging through book five (Fiery Cross) and have been tempted to do the ‘skimming’ thing to get past the overly extensive details that actually IMO seem to dampen the heart of the stories involving the characters and their lives and relationships.
I think that Diana’s knack at extensive research is both the best about her books and, the worst. Her rich details and character development make her an outstanding author but on the same token, she is clearly far more fascinated in depicting those minute details, that many of her readers find tedious at a certain point. I’m getting the sense of overload (or just being overwhelmed – I thought I’d never get through “The Gathering” part of Drums of Autumn; the damp cold conditions, the comings and goings of so many people, etc., just seemed to drag on forever)!
You are definitely right about the fact that as an author gets further into writing a series of books with one publisher and, develops a strong following as D.G. has done; it’s way too easy to kind of ‘wing it’ or provide less quality with each new book. My husband actually says this about the five consecutive books he authored earlier in his career. He considers the fifth to be his least or weakest book among the initial five and I agree with him.
I also find it very interesting as a human character study, that a large percentage of D.G.’s fan base are so enamored with her and, the characters (which I agree are very intriguing – especially in the first 3 books), that they will gladly read anything she writes and happily overlook any unresolved plot issues and even inconsistencies with the story/book.
I hope I can hang in there to read the final installment and find out what that ghostly apparition of Jamie in front of the Inn in 1946 Inverness was about…
Hang in there! There is a reward for reading The Fiery Cross: the next installment, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, is excellent (and then they get tedious again).
I agree with your assessment of the novel and of the plotting and prose. Gabaldon is indeed a strong but sloppy writer. When she began dropping phrases like “Make it so” in her books, I suspected she was conflicted about writing popular time traveling romance while holding a doctorate; academics can be intellectually snooty. I figure book eight’s title refers to Gabaldon’s experience writing the thing. And yet I still read the novels. I like Jamie and many of the other characters, though I find I like Claire less these days, which will prove a difficulty since she’s our avatar in these adventures.
All true. I find that I like the books most when Claire is narrating. The third person sections are rough. I like Jamie and many of the secondary characters, but only when I’m seeing them through Claire’s eyes.
I just finished Written in my own Hearts Blood and am trying to figure out how to make my own return to 2015. I laughed and cried reading this book. Jamie nursing Claire after her surgery was heart wrenching and lovely. Ian is a favorite character of mine and appreciate his love and dedication to his Auntie Claire. So glad he was blessed with some happiness.
As far as William goes his character reflects his upbringing. Jamie observes to Claire he is spoiled and badly behaved and indulged, but bonnie and brave. The memories of Mac the groom that waft in his memories are the only clear pure emotions he has to go back to . Lord John was a good enough father but I do see his character as not having the same expectations as Jamie would have.
Diana brings these characters to life and the decisions they make reflect who they are. I love the characters as we all do who are fans. The trials of life and love remain similar as they are in our time. Even though the clothes we wear and the gadgets we have are different the similarities to what matters to a life remain constant. I take that as a theme which is worthy.Family, honor, love, dedication, hard work, laughter are as we say in out time “all good”.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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Oh thank god you thought the same thing, I’ve been really struggling with this book. I’ve gobbled up the others staying awake to sometimes ridiculous hours of the morning to finish “just this last chapter” haha. I’ve actually found your review because I wanted to know what was going to happen and if it was worth my time reading it.
I wanted more of Claire and Jaimie, I’m absolutely dreading when either of them die. Im sure I’ll be a little heartbroken, I am happy to see that they all reunite but what you said about Roger coming back as the older version…. now that would have been a fantastic twist. Maybe you should start writing your own novels.
Sometimes it would be better to shorten the series and keep the reader invested and excited instead of dragging out plots and characters that don’t go anywhere and making them jump on Google to find out what happens.
I’m always glad to find a kindred spirit. It’s so frustrating to watch a series go downhill even when you know how good it could be (and has been). I don’t want Jamie or Claire to die either, but I do think that is how the series needs to end. This series has always been about the physical life of the body – sex and other sensual pleasures, childbirth, disease, injury, aging, and so forth – and death is the inevitable way for the series to end. The “happy ending” of this novel felt so artificial in so many ways. And yet in spite of it all, I’m still excited to see what she writes next! 🙂
Thanks for reading our blog!
Well ive finally finished the last book. I must admit I did do a bit of chapter speed reading/ jumping, something I really try not to do but I found anything to do with William was going nowhere and in the end it didn’t really take anything away from the story. I did enjoy the end, Diana finished it with a tight little bow so if she doesn’t want to write another book in the series it would be alright with me that way in my mind they’d be living forever on Frasers Ridge. Hmmm must be the romantic coming out in me.
I agree with many of the sentiments mentioned here, but I won’t go so far as to call Ms. Gabaldon sloppy. I think she is ready to be done with this series and has dragged it out, yes, probably for money but don’t discount the power of fanatical fans. Of course, Harry Potter comes to mind, but so does Stephen King’s “Misery”!
We are missing a satisfying conclusion to so many “loose ends” that I am greatly hoping the next (and hopefully, last) book will provide. The most intriguing interjections to me are the ones with first, Raymonde in “A Dragonfly in Amber” and then with the time-travelling doctor Roger encounters in this last book — the blue healing. What’s that all about?? Raymonde told Claire that he calls her “Madonna” because her aura is blue, like the robe of the virgin, and like his own. Is this an untapped potential for Claire? Ms. Gabaldon could make that into a story line that goes far and deep, and I hope she does. I am also hoping to find out less “what” and more “why” about the whole phenomenon of travelling through the stones. The question baffles everyone that knows about it in the book, and very little is actually tested and known about it by the characters that have themselves used it. Ms. Gabaldon knows she’s ending the series. Why not go metaphysical or even supernatural to the extreme here? 😀
I resisted the novellas that were released, only reading them after finishing all the novels, and even then, skipping the “Lord John” novellas, besides “The Scottish Prisoner”. He just doesn’t interest me enough as a character to go out of my way to read even a novella that’s all about him. I find him slightly whiny and more than a bit creepy at times, and struggle to see why Jamie has such enormous loyalty to him…I guess it’s because of William. In any event, I highly recommend reading at least “The Scottish Prisoner”. It reveals, among other things, that Raymonde and St. Germain are, indeed, BOTH time travelers themselves, along with some other interesting tidbits.
I am as anxious as the next person to read the next novel, but I do hope she takes her time and follows a carefully created outline.
Hi — thanks for reading. I’ve read all of the novellas, even the stupid ones, in spite of the fact that like you I am not a huge fan of Lord John. I agree that there’s enormous potential in the “whys” of time travel, but I have no faith in Gabaldon to fully flesh them out.
DG Is the midst of completing her 9th book on this OL series, and has just committed herself to a 10th. I don’t know how your taking this but I actually groaned. I don’t know how or what she will write about in novel 10 but I hope some loose ends finally get tied up, but I have a sneaking suspicion we’re going to be disappointed. Like I said before I would have been quiet happy if her 8th book was the last in the series.
Actually, Diana writes in bits and pieces, which she splices together as she goes along. Outlines have no place in her writing habits. Sorry.
Gem, wow, I had only heard that she was just started on the 9th book, and that she would be ending there. Where did you hear about a 10th?!
Apparently it was said in an interview/discussion and then put out when the hype about the show started. I asked a discussion group I’m in if anyone wanted to elaborate and I was told that after the rough plan was drawn out for 9 she realised that she’d need to write a 10 to complete. So maybe 9 and 10 will be like one of her huge books in two parts, that’s just me speculating. Also on tweeter she’s stated that book 10 would happen if she’s still alive to write it. I just hope I’m still around to seem the tv series finish haha.
I hadn’t heard about the 10th book. I suppose that as long as suckers like us keep buying the books, she’ll keep writing and her publishers will keep publishing. It’s too bad. Several years ago I heard that she was planning a series of detective novels set in New Mexico. That idea doesn’t especially excite me, but I do like the idea of seeing her write something that has nothing at all to do with time travel and Scotland.
Thanks for all the info!! I started reading the Outlander series back in the 90’s and have only really read the first 3. I started the 4th and never been back. I still am very curious about the characters, so I lurk on sites like this (and someday hope for a good wikipedia site so I can get it all). To be honest, I never continued the series because I just don’t like the same “themes” happening to the same ppl over and over again. And yet, I still want to know what the storylines are…interesting dilemma for me.
I am so thankful for all of you for sharing what happens. I’ll keep reading the posts and even look up earlier books. 🙂
One question – I had read somewhere that DG might have written that Jamie (or someone else) planted the forget me knots at the stones. Or is that conjecture?
Thanks for your comment — I’m do glad our blog has been helpful for you. To be honest, I don’t remember anythink at all about forget-me-nots at the stones (it’s been a while since I read the earlier books too). I’ll ask Jill (my friend who keeps this blog with me) and see what she remembers. Thanks for reading!
I had overheard/read that in the later books (or maybe it’ll be in the next book), someone had planted the Forget-me-knots since the plant was kinda what started the whole series. Altho, my head is spinning from all the back and forth time traveling (feeling like a definite Doc Who thing). Also, on a side note, when I told my husband about the books and watching the show, he said there were more than a few historical things wrong. I wouldn’t have known, which is probably like DG. It would take alot of time and effort to get history right, if you aren’t a historian already. Thanks for all the info!!
You’re welcome! I’m no historian either, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she got some details wrong. I can’t really fault her for that, since her readers come to her mostly for characters and plot, and she (sometimes) does character and plot very well.
Also, I asked my co-blogger and friend Jill, who just read the first two books, about the forget-me-knots, and she didn’t remember them. You may be right about them being part of the 9th book.
who are you to say so many bad things about these books .I enjoyed every word Diana wrote.and so excited for (9) to come out.
Who am I? A person just like you. You are welcome to disagree.
I just binged-read all eight Outlander books in 10 weeks and am left wondering where she is going next. Of course, Jamie and Claire and their extended clan will be sucked back into the American Revolution because it would be a boring story if they were left to live their lives peacefully on the Ridge. Jamie is a warrior at heart, while farming is how he makes a living, he is not one to go peacefully into that good night. There are a lot of loose ends, and I don’t see her wrapping this up in Book 9, but who knows. How did Breanna, Roger and the kids get back to the Ridge? I am sure that that will be further explored in the next book. What happened to Buck? Other than we know he died in 1738, did he get back home? Will Jenny remember Roger from his visit to Lallybroch with Buck? What did they name Baby Oggy? Is Benjamin really dead? Where did William go? Is Fergus really St. Germain’s son and heir? How will Germain cope with his brother’s death? How will they keep Mandy and Jem from talking to the other kids about their special gift? In some respects, yes, Ms. Gabaldon is a sloppy writer. The one scene where Ian acts like he doesn’t know who William is when several hundred pages earlier he called him cousin was puzzling. However, after reading in the comments that she doesn’t allow anyone to edit her work explains a lot. Is she cocky? Probably, but having such a huge fan base and becoming rich off of one books I guess could do that to you. When I read the first book I was like, wow!, this was incredible and woohoo, there’s more! I have to say, however, that if I had read the books as they came out, I would have been very upset because she left too many loose ends and characters that I liked were left in limbo between books (Ian primarily, Jem stuck in the tunnel, etc.). I look at the series like this, I was introduced to two characters in Book 1 that I just fell in love with; cried tears of joy and pain with them; laughed with them; felt like I was part of their family; invested in their life. Life is not easy, but we learn and grow from our mistakes. We change; none of us are the same we were in our twenties that we are in our fifties, so why should Jamie and Claire be the same? Yes, I was left wondering why after knowing that there was a band of marauders running around the Ridge Jamie didn’t put steps in place to watch more closely, which of course resulted in Claire’s abduction and rape, but was that him growing lax or the author setting up the next adventure, because we know what everything intersects in her books. Maybe not immediately, but definitely eventually. Unlike many others, I like Lord John. He has saved Jamie and Claire in many cases and it bothered me the way Jamie treated him when he found out that he and Claire had sex. Yes, I know it’s because of what Lord John told him, but really, he already knows about John’s feelings for him, and he’s accepted it and loved him and counted on him as a friend. It’s like she didn’t really explore the “hey, we thought you were dead and this is how we coped to keep you alive” angle enough (sloppy writing?!). I don’t know. Obviously, I could write forever about this book, but I will end this by saying that I enjoyed the books, some more than others (Fiery Cross was definitely the worst), and I really look forward to the 9th. I want to continue to follow the adventure and hope that the rest of the clan is explored further. I use the term clan intentionally because if they didn’t meet implausibly throughout the stories, then she’d have gone on for more pages than she did. It’s a story about a set number of people, of course there are going to be some implausible meetings. Of course I want to know more about them and not anyone else. I would love to hear more from Ian’s perspective; from William’s, but even more, from Jaime. What a character! Thanks Diana and her fans for making these possible because they truly are characters that stay with you.
Your post follows the thread of my own thought process almost exactly, although I am less excited about reading about the other characters because to me the books become less interesting as they move farther from Claire’s voice (the first-person chapters) and from Claire and Jamie’s relationship. I am glad that Lord John and William are in the novels, but their chapters drag terribly for me. I don’t think Gabaldon has figured out how to write in the third person while still capturing nuances of character. But yes, I’ll read the next book too, even if it’s flawed. I’m officially hooked on the series.
After voyager middle part, it’s a mess. An enjoyable yarn, but a mess. She needs strong editing but is probably too forceful to accept it. Well go girl, if it makes you money and gives you satisfaction kudos then do it.
Thanks for writing this recap. I could barely get through the 1st half (listened to the audio book). The only story line I was interested was Jem and Roger. Just picked up part 2 at the library on Tuesday. I listened to disk 19 (I had 19 more to get thru). Then I started to speed through the next few disks to learn about Jem and Roger. War, war and more war with a brief part about Brianna and the letter. Then more war. So I gave up and just listened to the final track on the last disk. I have loved this series but I have no interest in her future books. By Jamie and Claire.
I just started binging on the books (mostly through Drums of Autumn now) since the season finale. What I like most are the characters and relationships although her writing is sometimes muddled — particularly when she changes narrator voice. It seems she does not trust herself enough to be able to write compellingly without throwing in unnecessary plot twists and action sequences which sometimes require going back to in order to determine whether something is fingerposting or just padding, as with Geillis’ bones in Voyager.
Perhaps if she condescended to doing outlines which are important when writing at length (as most of my favorite and respected authors do), I would have fewer complaints. Certainly she is no stylist but I am not reading the books for style. I agree with many of the above that Lord John Grey is not all that interesting and borders on creepy. While it is nice to see gay characters sympathetically written, it would be nice to see one who was not obsessing over a straight character, however endowed. As a widow, I understand the nature of loss which is probably what initially attracted me to the series and spurs me onward.
As for rejecting editorial input, I am sympathetic as there are few truly professional editors out there anymore, but for an author of her success, I’m sure a good one could be found. A bit of tidying up and an extra set of eyes couldn’t hurt. I understand the prickliness of writers (my late husband being one) and have found damage done to great works by editors (Wolfe’s O Lost!, the unexpurgated manuscript of Look Homeward, Angel, being IMO truly superior to the edited final product). The only living author I would not suggest this for is Thomas Pynchon whose brilliance and style is like fine lace, difficult to pick apart.
I would like to thank you for this blog and your insightful comments, Bethany, including those of you in this thread.
Thanks for reading – I’m glad you’re enjoying our blog! Your point about narrative voice is a good one – once she started shifting between points of view in the third person, the series loses the intimacy and wit of Claire’s first person narration. At moments in the later books she gets it back, but not often.
Gabaldon has such a huge fan base, me among them, but this last book was a disaster. It was too choppy and convoluted. I just didn’t get it. The plot was primarily sub-plots. We know she writes in chunks … perhaps writing a scene early on in the story and then skipping to one three-quarters of the way in. And then in the end, she weaves those chunks together. I think there were issues with the weaving … skipped stitches, wrong colors, no clear edges … an abstract tapestry made of chunky wool. And yet, I look forward to the next one.
Yes — issues with weaving is a good way to put it! I look forward to the next installment too. Don’t know why, but I do.
And I just want to add, if I may, that this couldn’t possibly be a stand-alone novel as all her novels were originally intended to be if my memory serves. With such a long time lapse between novels, I found so many things in this one confusing as heck. One forgets the who’s-who’s and the what’s-what’s. I can’t imagine someone trying to read this without having read her earlier novels in the series.
And btw … she did dedicate the book to her editors (US and UK), so I think they must be of some value to her aside from seeing the book through all the stages of pre-publication. Diana may be sarki with a wink, but I’ve never seen arrogance. Only generosity. Still wasn’t her best work, though.
I think she might have dedicated the book to her editors to thank them for keeping their mouths shut! And I agree — there’s no way this book could stand alone,
I agree with the general consensus; this book is drudgery to read. In fact, I’m taking one of many much-needed breaks from the ‘inaction’ of “Written….”
We read “Outlander” in our book club and most of us (12) continued to read the sequels outside book club; however, only two of us stayed with the series after the first three or four books. I’ll finish “Written…” without skipping (although I’m sorely tempted), but I won’t suffer through the last two books if they are anything like this. I’m on the wedding scene right now. I’d like to comment in depth, but I must get back to the salt mines!
I know the feeling! I’ll probably keep reading whatever she writes next, but I reserve the right to complain…
I bought Written in My Own Heart’s Blood when it first came out. I didn’t even wait for paperback. But I found myself unable to open and start reading it. I was afraid to find out how bad it might be. This summer, with so much hoopla about the series in the air because of the STARZ program, I decided I’d better dive in and get it over with – it would either be awful, okay, or possibly (but probably not) terrific.
I got the series on 38 cds from my public library. That way i could do other things while listening. Some of the disks didn’t work quite right, so I had to fast forward through the skipping sections…and I found that I hadn’t missed anything significant enough to cause me to lose the thread(s).
But I must have skipped one disk entirely because suddenly Claire was healing from a gunshot wound I had not heard about. I considered backtracking but – by then – just wanted to finish.
I’m relieved to learn that I’m not the only person confused as to how the Roger MacKenzies made it from ’38 to ’78. I was afraid I’d missed a second disk somehow.
Because I wasn’t expecting much, I was not really disappointed. But I’m ready for this to be done. Claire and Jamie are around my age now…how come menopause hasn’t slowed down Mistress Fraser’s sex drive? There’s no mention of lubricant…Why not? How come Claire’s 60+ breasts still look lovely?. What am i doing wrong? Do I need to make an appointment with a conjure woman so I too can enjoy frequent lusty romps without wearing a hormone patch? I also did not need to hear about the virgin bride giving her virgin husband a blow job…their sex life belongs in a different series maybe.
I enjoy rereading the first 3 books every now and then and feel as if the Frasers and the MacKenzies are personal acquaintances…but I can’t reread any of the later books. I’ve advised people working their way through the series to skip past some sections (like the one about the mulatto baby born to the woman in the loft) entirely.
Wrap it up.
So true – I’ve wondered about Claire’s menopause many times over the course of the last few books. I guess that’s part of what makes this a “fantasy” novel… 🙂
Your hysterical Julianne, her boobs still look good and her sex drive is off the wall because it’s fiction hahaha. But if you ever come across that conjure women to help you, ask her if she needs a manager, we’ll make a fortune.
In the last book or two, there were at least 2 references to using lubricant — some almond butter skin cream once, and some mint/menthol salve (with noted interesting sensations accompanying) in another instance. But still, I keep having to do the math to check how old Claire would be at various points in teh book….
Hi, I just found your blog and read this review. I was originally looking for a plot description on “The fiery cross”, which I just started reading….aaaaaand it’s already taking too long after the first 100 pages. I am wondering…are Brianna and Roger getting married at the gathering? I still don’t know. Maybe I’ll just wait for Starz’ Season 5 of Outlander 😀
When I started reading the series a few years back, I read the German ones (because I am German) but soon found out that reading the English “voice” was much more fun. A translation always loses something…I don’t know, I hope book translations have improved since the 90ies :).
And then…with The fiery cross something changed…as if the writing wasn’t the same anymore. I am not as hooked as I used to be. And I thought maybe I missed something or I am just not getting it, because the language isn’t mine and I am not able to catch all the details. But now, reading your review and the different opinions on the other books of the series, I realise there’s nothing wrong with me 😀 Here and there I feel like I am a part of a bad movie, that cuts from one scene to another without much logic. I am not sure, if I want to read on. Hmm…maybe I’ll try the audiobooks.
And now I am gonna stick around for a while and read some more 🙂 I believe there’s a review on book five, right? 😉
Yes, something definitely went very wrong with The Fiery Cross. It’s not you! A Breath of Snow and Ashes is MUCH better, though the quality drops off again after that. In general I think the series is good when it stays close to Claire and Jamie and to Claire’s first person narration. When the various other characters start to be at the forefront, the results are not good. Thanks for reading!
Haha, good to know that I am perfectly fine 🙂
You’re welcome. Thank you for writing, your blog is great!
I keep wishing for the Reader’s Digest condensed version of her novels. I am a big fan, and have been reading her novels from when Outlander was first published, but Oh. My. God. they just go on and on and on…. I skim and skim and skim, which I almost never do with any other book.
I think part of the reason we need Claire’s narrative voice is because, since the first chapter of the first book, she was our guide, our interpreter of the past, and our surrogate. DG was so spot-on with her knowledge of her audience that when we are without Claire it pushes our emotional investment right out the window.
I agree 100%. Jamie and others are great characters, but DG never finds a way to tell the story from their POV in a compelling way. Thanks for reading!!
As a kilt wearing, tattooed, Ulster-Scot, I may not be in the target demo for the books… Given that your summary is spot on. This book is like phoned in contractual obligation album bands make to get out of a deal.
So the loose ends for me… Who WAS the Scot in the opening pages that bumped into Frank?
Yup… We all knew that Breanna and the sub clan would turn up at, wait… what… The End? Could we not have had at least had a closure chapter.
Why was there not some story arc with Jenny remembering Roger?
The whole kidnap in Inverness? Having spent two years living in the shadow of the Culloden Battlefield, you would be more likely to be sheep napped.
I wonder if editors would have created four amazing books rather than nine nearly books.
Oh and I cried… When Rollo died.
Tha mo bhàta-foluaimein loma-làn easgannan
As far as I know, you’re our first “real” Scottish commenter. I feel so validated! (Lol). Gabaldon does admit that she left many loose ends hanging and that there will be another book, but what a waste of time and space that a writer with many talents could have used to move on and tell a different story. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Has Jenny ever seen Roger at this point in the series? I figured as soon as she did (in the last chapter that should have been in MOBY, or in the next book?) she would recall — and we’d get the recount of them meeting Brian…
Good question – I don’t remember the early books well enough to know for sure. In Voyager, when Brianna and Roger traveled separately to the past, I know that Brianna visited Jenny before she crossed the ocean. Did Roger? If not, then she probably hasn’t met him. I also don’t remember the exact logistics of how R and B went back to the 20th century at the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, but I think they used stones in North America and never went back to 1770’s Scotland. But again, my memory of the details is rough. Thanks for commenting!
Jenny rode to the fort (where they were meeting Jack Randall) to warn Roger and her father of William Buccleigh’s illness. Roger also met her prior to that at Broch Tuarach.
Midlifebias: Yes, Jenny met Roger in 1738, but does not realize his future connection with the family. I don’t think that she has ever met him in context of being married to Bree. She would have some kind of epiphany in my fictional last chapter of MOBY as she meets him and realizes she met him previously — 40 years before (And he has not changed a bit)
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. Some ideas and hypotheses are pretty interesting, and hopeful.
I’ve read them all, beginning with Outlander way back in the early ’90’s, and every book since seems to have become convoluted to the point of confusion, plot points dropped or closed with little explanation, still no real explanation for “time-travel” in the first place (but I’m sure a sunburst of epiphany will come at the end, when we find out why Jamie was standing there looking up at Claire’s window in 1945).
The books now seem to read like Diana, more than her characters, thinking out loud. And each book strikes me akin to a construction project. You erect scaffolding, build the house, and take the scaffolding down when it’s finished. But Diana appears to have fallen into the habit of leaving the scaffolding up.
This is a huge reason why I’m so thankful that Ron Moore and his writing team have taken liberty and really trimmed down the story for the tv series – altered for time and adapted to the screen. So far, I’m liking the changes very, very much.
I have mixed feelings about the final book in the series (if indeed the next one is the last), But, regardless of what Diana ends up slathering onto a page, I sincerely hope the story will continue to make better sense on screen. I will keep reading, of course, but at this point, the screen version is the only thing saving it for me.
I’m forecasting that Fanny (Jane’s little sister) will be fought over by 18-year old Germain/Jem/Aidan characters in some future book. There will be a love interest there.
What qualifies you to be a literary critic? Instead of calling your thoughts a review, perhaps you should call them “Bethany’s Opinion”.
A review *is* an opinion. Reviewers disagree with one another all the time. And as far as qualifications, I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fiction writing.
Are you published?
Yes, short stories and poetry. I focused only on teaching in my 20’s and 30’s and only started writing seriously again in the last couple of years. What about you — are you a writer as well?
Thank goodness I found your blog … I believe my original internet query was “why is Diana Gabaldon’s latest book such a mess”, and with a few revisions, finally found my way here. I started reading the Outlander series in the 90’s and fell in love – with the characters, the premise, the writing, everything. Consequently, I am saddened that I am struggling so with WimOHB. I am still only about 1/3 of the way through and it’s taken me months to get even that far. Will endeavour to persevere, but if anyone reading has the ear of Diana Gabaldon, they might whisper in it that as polished and professional as she believes herself to be, her train of thought has fallen off the tracks and there is no shame in allowing a skilled and OBJECTIVE editor to be the ‘gatekeeper’ between her and her audience. She needs a story ‘polisher’ who will cull the extraneous, and shepherd the storyline into some cohesive flow. The first 3-4 books were brilliant, so here’s hoping that she can put together a team that will help her get back to her former glory.
I agree 100%. Her idea that “professional writers” don’t work with editors is untrue, first of all, and most novelists put their work through multiple drafts on their own before they even send it to their editor. I think her work became sloppy when she decided to follow so many characters so closely. When she follows Claire, everything’s fine. But in the later books when she’s following a dozen or more characters, some of whom are in different time periods and on different continents, her stories lose their tension and elasticity. It’s better to write a focused novel and hint at what might be going on with other characters than to try to encompass everything. I take lots of flak for my criticism of DG, which is fine, and it’s nice to hear from a kindred spirit. Thanks for reading our blog!
I just binge read all 8 books over the summer and loved it. Now eagerly waiting for book #9. I’m happy that I am a newcomer and could consume them in a series. Found them to be a cohesive if complex story.
I know DG is a consultant on the TV series and I have to wonder how hard she is to deal with. I watched a YouTube video of her once and found her to be a bit obnoxious to be honest. My impression is she writes for her own amusement and in the things that interest her eg The War of Independence despite the fact that she must know it bores the pants off most readers. I was desperate to know about Jamie’s ghost in Outlander before I worked it out for myself. Jamie can’t time travel so he’s been dead for about 150 years before Claire turns up in Scotland for her first trip through the stones. So Jamie in spirit is watching her and knowing she is about to join him in his 18th century incarnation. Naturally the strength of their attachment would have survived death and spiritually he is with her during her 20th century lifetime. So now I’ve answered that for myself I have lost interest to a great degree as DG feels compelled to stretch this saga on and on ad infinitum. As a writer I think I’d be interested in writing books that are critical successes rather than diminishing my reputation by writing books that are uneven and filled with a lot of extraneous material. People buy and read them because we’re hooked on J an C and just have to skip the crap in between. Why doesn’t the author realise this? Surely she must be worth millions by now and doesn’t need to be churning out a lot of substandard material to keep the coffers filled. Authors should be writing for their readers. Unfortunately in DG’s case we are forced to read what interests the author for the sake of a J and C fix. It was very mean of her to get us hooked so she could indulge herself this way. And PS, why have I never warmed to Briana? I feel a great opportunity was lost there. She could have been as interesting as Claire and provided a vehicle for future time travel books re this family but I just don’t care enough about her which is a shame. Roger on the other hand is a far more endearing character.
Yes, I had a similar impression of DG when I heard her speak – she is an egomaniac who states outright that she refuses to work with editors. Specifically, she said, “*I* am a professional writer,” as if professional writers are supposed to be above having their work edited (a statement that marks her as an amateur in my opinion).
I have been listening to the audio books for what seems to be over a year, and finished the last book, today, 12-11-17. I had hoped that Claire and Jamie would have settled at Lallybroch. I figured Rodger and family would show up at the end and we would learn how. I have been ready for this series to end, period, but now, a possible ninth book? I have enjoyed Davina Potter’s reading voice, throughout. I have found with audio books, if the reader is not engaging, you are better off reading the book! Will Starz have all 8 series (books) dramatized?
Yes, I think Starz plans to film them all as long as people keep watching. I think they do a great job adapting the books and trimming out the excess. I can’t quite imagine an audiobook… but yes, a great reader would make it bearable. Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for your excellent reviews that point out the increasing flabbiness of the stories with every book after 3 and 4 and yet still acknowledge the very strong pull of the original characters. DB’s arrogance is occasionally breathtaking. I believe she has read too much of her own publicity. Her statement on OUTLANDER: “If you’re unsure about it, open the book anywhere and read three pages; if you can put it down again, I’ll give you a dollar.”
Snort. I hadn’t heard that gem before. 😂😂
I checked back here just to see if you had had any comment on the latest DG, GO TELL THE BEES. I listened to it, and even the incomparable Davina Porter cannot breathe life into the corpse. It’s actually sad. The book is so truly, unbelievably bad, some of her fans are thinking she did not write it.
Ha! I read about 120 pages and set it aside (probably temporarily, I can’t look away from train wrecks forever). I believe she wrote it… she’s capable of amazing writing but also of total garbage. It’s too bad.
This “novel” (a pastiche of fragments) would never have been published were it not for her avid following. After I listened to it, I read reader reviews on Amazon and Audible. “Disappointed” was the number one descriptor. Those with a better memory than I pointed out her numerous mistakes with her own characters’ backstory (90% of the book is a rehash of backstory). A lot of readers also complained about her endless, and to them tedious, “research.” (As I am actually a historical researcher, this has always amused me… DG’s grasp of many details of life in the 18th century has always been tenuous.) I was more disappointed by her laziness with the characters themselves. Really, Jamie is still ranting about John as a sodomite, and jealousy over Claire? Other characters are colorless, pointless, or unbelievable. Finally, the plot gymnastics and coincidences this time are A Bridge Too Far. She sold out her story. I was sad.
And we thought the MOBY book was bad, lol!!! Just finishing, well, slogging through Book 9, the bees book, AWFUL!!! But I’ve been doing this 10 years now and am invested!! Moby should have been the ending!