As usual when reading a Diana Gabaldon book, progress has been slow but steady. After a month of reading I’m just about halfway through, but haven’t gotten to a point where I felt an update was warranted just yet. But it seemed like maybe I should just go ahead and do one even though it seems like many pages are going by without a whole lot actually happening.
That being said, Drums of Autumn opens in June of 1767 with Claire, Jamie, and their nephew Ian about to watch a hanging in Charleston, North Carolina. Two men are to be hanged, one of which Jamie knew back when he was in prison for his part in the Rising back in Scotland. The other may be important later. The second convict manages to escape. After this happens, Jamie and Claire and Ian and someone named Duncan, another former prison friend, break into a cemetery to bury said friend. Then they find the escaped convict and help him make his way to some friends. Then Jamie and Ian and Claire hop on a boat up some river to get to Jamie’s aunt Jocasta’s plantation, River Run. The escaped convict and his friends are pirates and they steal the jewels that the Frasers found in the cave at the end of Voyager. Many more pages go by, with long, long descriptions of how hot it is in North Carolina in the summer. After possibly the longest river trip ever, they arrive at River Run. Aunt Jocasta is blind, and a widow, but has a staff of slaves who are devoted to her, and seems to be getting along just fine. But she needs her nephew to be the male face of the family. Which Jamie doesn’t want to do. So after Claire fixes an inguinal hernia on the dinner table during a party one night, they decide to head out into the frontier and find some land, as the governor of North Carolina recommended they do. Where I am right now it’s Christmas of 1767, and Jamie has thrown out his back hunting an elk. So he and Claire hole up for the night to have sex and hide from the savages.
In the meantime, back in 1969, Roger Wakefield and Brianna Randall are falling in love and trying to find any information they can about what has happened to Claire and Jamie. And they just found something in a newspaper from 1776 that says they are killed in a fire. Which I’m pretty sure is going to precipitate another trip through the stones, and not just because I know the bare bones of the plot of the rest of the book.
So. I am enjoying Drums of Autumn because I love the characters and am happy to spend time with Claire and Jamie. But I’m starting to see that Diana Gabaldon has a problem: her editors are afraid of her. The trip up the river from Charleston to River Run really didn’t need to take as many pages as it did, and if Stephen Bonnet (the convict who they help escape from Charleston who ends up robbing them on the boat to River Run) doesn’t turn back up later on to cause more trouble or to be punished for his misdeeds then I’m really going to be annoyed, because if so, all the pages dedicated to him were wasted.
I’m not minding the occasional side trips to the twentieth century to hang out with Roger and Brianna; I like them, but wish they would hurry up and get to the part where they decide to time travel. In this series, the eighteenth century is infinitely more interesting than the twentieth.
More soon, I promise.