My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Overall a 3 star rating (I liked it) is correct.
Diana Gabaldon has a very expressive voice, especially when describing surroundings. There were times when I could read a paragraph close my eyes and BE inside this world she painted. I had a bumpy ride through the plot, which had moments of good effect and others where it really dragged on. I understand that she tries to be realistic, but sometimes this became a triptych about Claire, who often made curious choices.
A lot of reviews point to the violence and even rape-culture-advocacy in this novel. Frankly, I think that's overstated. The world described (18th century Scotland) was a very violent place and women were often second-class citizens. She makes this point very effectively and it does chafe at 21st century sensitivities, but isn't that the nature of historical fiction, to immerse yourself in those times?
Actually what bothered me more was the obsession with the loving relationship between Jamie and Claire, which had its bumps too. I often felt I was intruding by reading as they frolicked from one moment of bliss to another. I am not easily shocked and I was never shocked here (it's 2015!), but sometimes I thought the characters deserved more privacy than what was doled out by the author. That's really what keeps me from giving it 4 stars. On the other hand, my first impression (let's say my first 10 impressions out of the 100) is that Ms. Gabaldon can write very steamy romance. My tolerance for it is probably not the same as her most dedicated readers however and that's my loss I suppose.
I'm not going to address the physics aspects of time travel, the inevitability of events, parallel universes, or any of that because Claire only lightly brushes on these. (I would have liked to go deeper her then every aspect of their bedroom conduct.)
I liked the vivid characters (especially Jamie's sister) and there were times when the plot warmed up quite nicely. When things stopped and things got comfortable for them, the miasma of love claimed the compass of the story's trajectory and I lost some momentum. Claire with the Wolves is better than Claire and Jamie getting it on in another haystack.
I want to end on a positive point. I was extremely gratified to find the level of competence and completeness in Ms. Gabaldon's research. I have no idea if it is perfect, but I could definitely see that a huge effort was made. I really enjoyed reading the descriptions of the highlands, the prison, the castles, and the monastery. When this talented author describes some of these places, it is quite chilling.
Anyway, thank you for a great read. I've bought the others in the series and will read them one day. :-)
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