I can’t believe I just read this book.
Granted, it was for the Read Outside the Box thing for the library, and the premise — women from 20th century England travels back in time to 18th century Scotland and finds True Love there — sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try.
But, still. *Blush* I can’t believe I just read this book. (There’s been a lot of that lately. I went from reading a high school vampire romance to a time traveling Scottish romance. I gotta stop.)
This book, by Diana Gabaldon, walked that fine line between literature and Harlequin Romance. It wasn’t quite the heaving bosoms and Fabio type, but it wasn’t far from it either. I would venture to guess that her audience while writing was women who were looking for something of an, um, escape from life.
Points off for excessive and weird uses of adverbs. Her feet sank moistly into the soil; he looked jaundicedly at her (love that one), and they blush crimsonly. Points off for excessive use of (though rather tasteful, and married) sex. Points off for bringing up an interesting ethical dilemma — what do you do if you’re married, and then travel back in time, and are forced to marry someone else — and then dropping it half way through only to have someone in the end just absolve the whole issue by saying it’s a will of God. (Granted, no one was reading this for the ethical dilemma. Except maybe me.) Points off for pointless, long and boring, conversations.
Points for making Claire an interesting heroine. How would you react if you got thrown through time? She managed quite well, and even made the best of a bad situation. Points for chemistry between Claire and Jamie. The heat came oozing out of the book. Points for not making 18th century Scotland into a romantic place. Murder, rape (of both men and women), torture, witch-burning, adultery. No, I dinna want to live there. (She wrote in dialect: I’ve been calling my girls “bonnie wee lassies” all week.) But, it fit the book, and it made the conflict that much more.
I can’t decide whether to give points or take them for making the bad guy — Randall — not just a Bad Guy, but a genuine Evil Man. The things he attempts to do, and does, are downright despicable. It gives the book some weight to it, but on the other hand, it was almost excessive, and often seemed out of place. Often, especially at the end, I felt like it was just too much. Enough, already.
Is it a piece of literature? No. Is it a melodrama, soap opera, guilty pleasure? Yes. Is it good? That depends, I guess, on what you’re looking for.