The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn- an epic tale of forbidden love.

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Book: The Last Summer

Author: Judith Kinghorn

Rating: 9/10

Oh my dearest avid readers, I do apologise most profusely for my absence. My day job has a nasty habit of getting in the way of doing what I love, which is writing reviews for all you lovely people. So without further ado I would love to share my review of one of the loveliest books I’ve ever read. ‘The Last Summer’ by Judith Kinghorn, an epic love story, set against the background of the outbreak of World War One.

Others have likened this novel to ‘Downton Abbey’, and I understand the comparison. However I do feel this novel portrays more than just the romance of the era, it also gives an in depth view of it’s rather less romantic issues such as the evils of war, the harshness of class divisions and utter tragedy of roads not travelled for if they had been happiness would have been achieved. Nonetheless, fans of the award winning show will adore this novel, and it echoes the works of such renowned authors such as Jane Austen. 

The novel begins, following the story of the sixteen going on seventeen year-old Clarissa Granville, who’s naive and eager personality immediately draws the reader in. Clarissa is the daughter of some-what wealthy parents who purchase ‘Deyning Park’ from an impoverished earl. Clarissa lives, in a life of innocent bliss, with her parents and three brothers. As with any girl of that age in this era, the only thing of import weighing on their minds, is making one’s début into society and ensnaring a wealthy, well connected husband. However Clarissa’s sheltered existence is brought swiftly down to earth with the arrival of Deyning Park’s housekeeper’s son, Tom Cuthbert. Although attending university and patroned by a mysterious benefactor, and being a ‘guest’ of Clarissa’s brothers, the class distinction between Tom and the Granville’s is ever present. Tom is the quiet, gentle, dashing and brooding type of character that every reader loves, and it isn’t much of surprise to discover Clarissa’s feelings for him begin to deepen. He awakens part of her soul she never knew existed, and he is equally enthralled by her charming, innocent personality. She begins to realise the selfishness of her class and Tom is testament to her becoming an altogether better person, who the reader can truly relate to. There are a lot of heart achingly sweet moments, where Tom and Clarissa engage in secret rendezvous’, and again I will say these moments are reminiscent of Jane Austen. 

However with happiness also comes despair in such novels such as these, and it isn’t long before Clarissa’s world begins to shatter around her. For the ‘Great War’ breaks out, stealing Clarissa’s brothers and Tom away. Tensions and miscommunication force Tom and Clarissa apart even further. Other forces such as Clarissa’s parents, also try to keep the two apart, fearing the social repercussions that may occur if Clarissa is left to follow her heart. As a result different emotions begin to emerge from this once beautiful romance. Jealousy, anguish and disappointment are emotions that are to the fore of this novel and the reader will find themselves so utterly frustrated that the two characters do not realise that they love each other and are too distracted by others to realise it. Sigh.

Nonetheless, Tom and Clarissa are bedazzled by each other, and are magnetised by an invisible force, that even when they have other commitments… (trying not to spoil the plot here), they cannot help giving in to their feelings for one another. One could argue that this is quite an unhealthy obsession, Tom is the Heathcliff to Clarissa’s Cathy, and how their love for another is almost damaging and tragic. Events occur which further causes Tom to distance himself. When he finally returns, it appears that he has become a different man, with a huge fortune in tow and finally garners the attention he so deserves. The events in this novel take place over a sixteen year period, so prepare yourselves for a long, but excellent love story.

I found this novel to be so enlightening. Before when reviewing another novel, I had mentioned how I couldn’t stand the indulgent, spoiled, little girls with rich daddies. However, Clarissa’s character literally changed my opinion of the aforementioned type of girl character. This is where the author’s talent lies, in my opinion, as she allows the reader to actually relate to someone you would never think you could relate to before. For example we see the world of pre-world war England through Clarissa’s eyes as she grows into adulthood and faces the harsh realities of her class, gender, love, and her inner battle to find her place in the world. The author elegantly portrays such personal upheaval with such magical descriptions that are so powerful and emotive, it is with such ease that the reader immediately identifies with the characters. Here is a passage from the novel that demonstrates the author’s talent:

“the vibration of change was upon us and I sensed a shift: a realignment of my trajectory. It was the beginning of summer and, unbeknown to any of us then, the end of a belle époque…”

In terms of other characters, Other readers who have read this novel, have expressed to me that they view Clarissa as quite the feminist, but I do not really think this is the case, or if it is, its more of a subdued part of her character. I think having come from the background she has, the social constraints were quite difficult and when finally giving the freedom to do what she wants, she literally throws herself into a lifestyle that does have a touch of scandal attached to it. Does that make her a feminist??? Not really sure myself, perhaps I shall leave that up to you avid readers to decided. On the topic of Tom Cuthbert, he is everything you could possibly want in a male lead. Courageous, gentle, dedicated, and terribly handsome are just some adjectives I would use to describe him. Yet I must admit that due to certain actions he takes in the second half of the novel, I was utterly baffled and disappointed in his ability to handle certain issues (really trying hard not to spoil for you lovely readers!). Also his treatment of other characters was a bit shocking at times. Despite this, the reader must remember that all that Tom Cuthbert does, is with Clarissa in mind, so try to ponder on that when you feel the need to throttle him, imaginatively of course. 😉 I loved the upstairs, downstairs aspects of the novel also, the staff of ‘Deyning Park’ all provide wonderfully to this lovely novel.

Overall, I love this novel most dearly and I beseech you all to pick up a copy. If you are an avid reader of historical fiction pertaining to the first world war, and also love a good forbidden romance story, then this is the book for you my dear friends. Judith Kinghorn is an amazing author, who would even make reciting the phone book sound amazing! Her magical descriptions of events, emotions and characters are simply divine. I understand some might not like this kind of novel, each to their own, but I genuinely loved it and would recommend it most sincerely. 

As always please feel free to give your opinion, I love to get feedback. 

The Avid Reader 🙂

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theavidreaders

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Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (An Outlander Review of book #4 in series)

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Book: Drums of Autumn.

Author: Diana Gabaldon.

Rating: 9/10

First and foremost I must apologise to all my avid readers for the lengthy period in which there have been no new book reviews on my blog. I have unfortunately been so busy with work that I regretfully did not have the time to write anything. Also it has taken me quite an age to read ‘Drums of Autumn’, which I do not mean as a negative comment but more as a compliment. I found myself unwilling to complete this book as it was my preference to savour it as much as possible. So without further ado, I shall begin my review.

Diana Gabaldon is a genius. That is the simple truth. She is a master storyteller with the ability to evoke such raw emotions in any reader, and allow one to almost become her characters. This is what sets her apart from authors of this era, I sincerely mean that. Furthermore I think one of the most important things to note when reading Mrs. Gabaldon’s books, is that the woman is also an avid historian. Never have I seen fiction and history so cleverly immersed into one highly evocative masterpiece. Her level of research is evident on each page of her novels and the reader come away from reading having been educated on a particular subject in each of the eras the author visits. This to me personally is what defines a ‘book with a bite’. A book that not only is excellent for its storytelling but also for its ability to educate its reader, in this case educating the reader on the histories of the founding of America. Having only briefly studied this era as part of one module in my American history studies, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the topic in more detail. This is due to Gabaldon’s ingenuity, she provides her readers with the ability to take an interest in issues arising in her books that they would never have pondered about previous to her novels. Having stated all this, I also realise that no author is perfect. There are moments in Diana Gabaldon’s novels where I do not agree with her plot developments and her portrayal of characters and become increasingly frustrated at situations that develop in her stories that aren’t altogether necessary or realistic. However I have to honestly admit even though she is not a perfect author, she is pretty darn close to being one. Her creativity and imagination are forces to be reckoned with, her writing is a benchmark to what all other authors should aspire to.

Apologies for the waffling, but all of the above needed to be remarked upon before I could begin the review. I shall get on with the actual storyline review now. ‘Drums of Autumn’ continues on from where ‘Voyager’ concluded. ‘Voyager’, unfortunately, ultimately failed for me as a novel, it was a train wreck from beginning to end (as mentioned in my previous review on the novel). I hate to admit that but this blog is a blog of honesty and I do not wish to mislead any of my avid readers. However ‘Drums of Autumn’, I can happily conclude, redeems the Outlander series and Diana Gabaldon’s talent as an author.  Our beloved characters of Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall Fraser have finally been reunited after a twenty year (altogether too long a period if you ask me) separation and have found themselves penniless on arriving in the relatively new colonies of America due to unforeseen circumstances. They are joined her by Jamie’s nephew, Ian Murray (son of Jenny and Ian Murray Snr.), Fergus Fraser (Jamie’s adopted son and protégée) and many old friends of Jamie’s from his prison days. They finally begin to move on with their lives and begin a new chapter of martial bliss. In fact the entire first half of the book deals with the slightly slow paced detailing of Claire and Jamie’s new life in America. Although where other reviewers would criticize this slower pace, I found it utterly beautiful. It chronicles the simplicity of life for Jamie and Claire now that they have finally the time to indulge in each other and are out of danger (somewhat as danger follows Claire and Jamie wherever they go).  

On that note I would like to also highlight a new type of writing tactic employed by Diana Gabaldon, and that is the in-depth detailing of Claire’s experiences as a herbalist and medicine women. I congratulate the author on this fantastic new input to the saga. There was always a mentioning of Claire’s prowess with herbs as a form of medicinal treatment as she deals with medical issues of disease, pregnancies and day to day remedies. Nonetheless in ‘Drums of Autumn’ we are provided with an in depth explanation of treatments Claire uses and I must say it has granted me a new-found curiosity for herbalism. We also witness how Claire and Jamie build a haven from absolutely nothing and take on roles we have never seen them perform before such as Claire as a gardener and food preserver, or Jamie as a builder and architect and farmer. I therefore scold those so-called reviewers for complaining in regards to how slow placed the first part of the novel is and for not understanding that Gabaldon does this as a story telling tactic. If she did not employ this tactic, reviewers would complain about plot holes and how easy it is for Claire and Jamie to set up shop all of a sudden in America. So please my avid readers, patience is a virtue you should adopt at the beginning of this book. 

Historically speaking, as previously mentioned, Gabaldon almost effortlessly creates a backdrop of major historical American issues such as slavery, plantations, the Native Americans, epidemics of the era, pirates, emigrating and issues of religion, that all add to the richness and effectiveness of the plot. Instead of the usual enemy of the English, we are provided with newer, more savage enemies such certain native american tribes, regulators, slave traders, pirates and even members of law enforcement. We also get an in depth look at bootlegging, as Jamie of course begins his whiskey producing business although it does not really explain if this is legal or not. Also the ever present production of turpentine is prevalent in the novel. I found all these historical aspects utterly fascinating and refreshing compared to the previous novels. The beauty of the wilderness of unsettled America is so vividly described by the author, it is as if one is living there and witnessing it’s primitive beauty.  Obviously, all the historical aspects of the founding and establishment of America are so interesting to me, due to that fact that I’m an Irish person reading about the history of another country. I would be interested to see how Americans view this detailing of history and whether they were knowledgeable of these issues already, or like me they came away from the novel feeling thoroughly educated on the subject at hand. I am eager to hear opinions on this.

Now in regards to the storyline of Brianna Fraser and her beloved Roger Wakefiled/MacKenzie. Brianna has been abandoned by her mother, no easier way to put it. She is now trying to move on and act as if both her parents are dead. However her curiosity for her father by blood begins to dominate her every thought. Roger Wakefield, who aided Claire in returning to Jamie in book two and three, has become infatuated by all things Brianna. A slow paced courtship begins between the two, with both characters being too shy to admit their true feelings for one another. I unfortunately must admit in this area of the novel I became increasingly frustrated. I began to ponder if Diana Gabaldon was trying to recreate the awe inspiring relationship of Claire and Jamie, with this more modern couple, but if so then it is an utter mistake as these characters could never touch the level of perfection that is Jamie and Claire as a couple. As the child of Claire and Jamie, Brianna unfortunately has inherited the bad characteristics of her parents. She has the stubbornness of her mother and the close mindedness and quick to ignite fury of her father. I found her character to be spoiled, almost arrogant at times. She seems to only ever think of herself, which is evident on her sudden decision to follow her mother through the stones of Craigh na dún without so much as a thought for poor Roger, who is utterly besotted with the girl and throughout the first part of the novel is almost begging Brianna to settle down with him. Literally the scene where Roger informs Brianna he will not bed her unless she marries him, is perhaps the most cringe worthy moment in any book I have ever read. The reader will feel the urge to knock these two characters heads together on more than one occasion.

However despite this frustrating part of the novel, the reader eventually begins to warm to these two new characters. We begin to see just how far Roger is willing to go to be with Brianna. We begin to see that Brianna’s stupidity at times, is due to her desperation to find out who she really is and where she comes from. I found the chapter in which she meets the Murrays in Lallybroch to be breathtakingly emotive and recognised it as the turning point in my feelings towards Brianna. She finally finds out who she really is and when finally reuniting with her long lost father it is clear that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Brianna is more like Jamie than Claire, this is evident in how easily the two can be inflamed with anger and regularly argue with one another. This also brings me to another point to be made regarding how the author has finally provided Jamie with the family he has always yearned for. He now has the women he loves, a headstrong, Amazonian daughter who is literally made in his image and at last, a land to call his own, free from the hauntings of his past. The reader will find these chapters to be utterly bitter-sweet. I particularly found the shyness, in which Brianna and Jamie try to familiarise themselves and grow accustomed to each other, so charming. 

Although I have a deep love for this book, as it contains the most interesting series of events thus far in the series, I am not blind to it’s negative aspects. Number one is an issue of character development that I had actually mentioned in my review of ‘Voyager’, that of the lack of development of the character of Fergus Fraser. The charming rogue of ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ is almost non-existent in this novel. I was devastated by this as I loved his character in the previous books, and Gabaldon had been shaping him up to be a protégée of Jamie’s, a second in command, one could say. However in this novel, although Fergus has a very brief mention at the beginning of the book before leaving to bring Marsali and his new child Germaine from Jamaica to America. It is as if Fergus has been replaced by Jamie’s nephew, Ian. Although I love Ian and love the relationship between him and Jaime, I feel almost sorry for Fergus that his place beside Jamie has been taken. Fergus is such an interesting character, with his roguish Frenchness (if that is even a word). Fergus always provided a comic scene in previous books and so I have missed him in this novel as a result. Also the character of Marsali could have been adhered to more. She was such a presence and force to be reckoned with in ‘Voyager’ quite literally being her mother, Laoghaire’s daughter in personality also. Her hatred of Claire isn’t evident in this novel and I feel as if I have been cheated out on how their relationship has changed. It is mentioned that Marsali is in charge of monitoring Jamie’s whisky business with little explanation as to why she has this role. It is frustrating to see how little these two characters are mentioned.

Another issue I had with this novel is the issue of human depravity. I am accepting that humanity in this era was less than perfect, I am accepting that violence was commonplace and the role of women was not one any woman nowadays would particularly like to return to. I do however find it very hard to accept the issue of rape in this novel. Brianna for some strange reason decides to try to get her mother’s wedding ring from Frank back for her, and never once considers that meeting up with a pirate in order to purchase it from him, would lead to danger. Seriously? She’s an intelligent girl, who has done the research needed to understand what the protocol is for society during this time. Yet she still manages to get herself into a most horrific circumstance, the scene in which she is raped is utterly devastating. Another point I would like to make is whether there was a need for this rape at all. The story did not really need a rape scene or for Brianna to become pregnant and lead to the ultimate problem of who is the daddy and what will Roger do when he finds out, if he is still alive himself that is. There is enough savage scenes in the novel and I do not think this rape should have occurred at all. Considering the whole issue of rape has been one that is mentioned so many times in previous books in the series, and it is also too close to home with regards to Jamie and his past experience with Jack Randall. I therefore have a huge, elephant in the room, issue with this plot. Why did it have to be included? Was it to ensure the bond between Jamie and Brianna would suffer? Was it to bring the story full circle, examining the human ability to accept a child that isn’t your own blood, as Frank had done with Brianna? I really take issue with this aspect of the story and would love to know what the author was thinking by including it.

This leads me to the issue and pivotal problem of the novel. Why on earth did Brianna not inform her mother or father of her rape straight away and why did she skirt around the issue and was so unwilling to give Roger’s full name as Wakefield and MacKenzie. She ultimately lead Roger to be tortured and enslaved without reason. Also why did Claire, knowing quite well how hot headed Jamie is, not inform him sooner. Why do the characters not communicate properly!! I know if they had, we would not have been provided with such an epic storyline, but I feel that this was exaggerated needlessly and do not feel that half the book should have been dedicated to such silly behaviour. Even the fact that Brianna will not tell her father she has actually been married by hand-fasting is incomprehensible. Instead she would rather he would view her as harlot and someone who ‘lusts’ for men as so eloquently put in the novel. I just do not understand it. Having said that it provides for such dramatic encounters altogether, but it is all quite unrealistic.

Lastly, my final issue with the novel is that of young Ian. He has literally charmed me so much in the ‘Voyager’ and ‘Drums of Autumn’. He is, personality wise, a young Jamie, although maybe not as intelligent. His escapades with his monstrous dog ‘Rollo’ often had me in fits of giggles (particularly the scene in which John Grey’s adopted son, and Jamie’s real son, falls head first into a pile of excrement. All due to Ian’s silliness). He has become a son to Claire too. She mothers him throughout the novel and is often glad of his companionship. I therefore find the conclusion of Ian’s story, becoming a member of a Native American tribe to sacrifice himself to save Jamie and Claire from death and giving up any hope of ever seeing his own family ever again, so overwhelmingly tragic. It genuinely made me quite upset to read it. He might as well have been killed, for in becoming a member of the tribe he has to swear never to speak his own language again or see any of his family again. It is so sad. Jamie has lost a son in Ian, and his loss is felt deeply my Claire also, as Ian provided gaiety and joy to them both. Hope is given towards the end that this is not the last we will hear of young Ian, as he has managed to send a letter to them, but still he will never play such a vital role in the series again. One also begins to wonder just how Jenny, his mother, will react when she hears the news. 

The novel finishes on a hopeful note, with Roger finally returning to Brianna’s side, although one could curse him for his cowardliness, but he finally accepts that the child is his, regardless of blood. The birthing scene was bitter-sweet to in regards to the redemption of Jamie in the eyes of Brianna as she finally forgives him of his wrongdoing and demands his presence throughout the entire birth, allowing Jamie the wonderful emotion of feeling needed by his child. The characters come full circle. We even see a slight thawing of frostiness in Claire’s feelings in regards to John Grey. She begins to accept him as Jamie’s dear friend, and forgives him his feelings towards Jamie. I also loved the relationship between Brianna and John Grey. I applaud the author on this ingenuity of a story line. It is epic. Although I do wish William, Jamie’s son and John’s adopted son had a bigger role, but obviously that will happen in the books to follow.

All in all I was thoroughly enchanted by the new characters in this novel. One must mention one character in particular, the force to be reckoned with, that of Jocasta MacKenzie Cameron Innes, Jamie’s aunt who also shares Jamie’s stubbornness, and who is determined to make him her heir to her fortune and plantation of slaves, regardless of whether he wants it or not. When this fails she then sets her sights on Brianna. And so follows a series of manic but slightly hilarious attempts of hers to achieve her aim. Jocasta also supplies the reader with a in-depth look at slavery, which was touched upon in ‘Voyager’ but in this book it shows how difficult life is for slaves and how easily they can be replaced. Some slaves, however, enjoy their jobs, such as Jocasta’s butler and maid. 

In conclusion, it is evident that this novel is worth every minute spent reading it. It succeeds where ‘Voyager’ did not. It finally provides a happy life (somewhat) for our beloved characters of Jamie and Claire. They have gone through so much together and still remain faithful and loyal to one another. In fact I do have to say for forty and fifty year olds, they are quite, ahem, amorous in their attentions to one another, but I suppose twenty years of a separation would allow for this. It is so wonderful to finally see Jamie’s life begin anew and improve. He now is a laird again, a laird of land he has chosen for himself, supporting his family and dearest friends has provided him with meaning to his life. When he is designing their new home, it is as if watching a child at Christmas, his enthusiasm is addictive. I also had no issues with Claire in this novel as I normally have in past novels in the series. She herself has come full circle as a character. Her dedication to Jamie is so admirable and heart breaking at the same time. Claire’s mission to heal others takes her down the oddest paths but I feel these add to her character. The novel also supplies the reader with accounts of other beloved outlander characters from previous novels and this also helps the novel be such a success. 

It is with much enthusiasm that I recommend this book to you all. Although nothing will ever touch the first novel, ‘Drums of Autumn’ is not one to be missed and I therefore urge all my avid readers to pick it up as soon as you can. Please take everything I have said into consideration, if you have or haven’t read it, as I do believe that other reviewers are wrong in condemning the first half of the novel as boring. It is simply the author’s wish to describe the bitter-sweetness of Claire and Jamie’s new life together, where they can finally settle down and have some much needed peace. I cannot highlight enough how clever Diana Gabaldon is as an author. I literally went through a roller-coaster of emotions reading this book. From happy to devastated, the emotions went on and on. Never have I felt that with any other book series. I am thoroughly excited for you all to read it and do hope you will leave your opinion on my blog or twitter page as I look forward to discussing the issues of the novel with you all.

As always, 

The Avid Reader 🙂

https://twitter.com/theavidreaders

Winter of the World (#2 in The Century Trilogy) by Ken Follett

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Rating: 9/10

Book: Winter of the World.

Author: Ken Follett

Apologies for my inactivity on my blog of late that is due to my being on a midterm break, school is out for a week so I’m a happy teacher 🙂  Right now however I once again have the time to beguile you all with the wonderful book I have read of late.

As to the latest read of mine, it promises everything a book should, it incorporates history, war, adventure, politics, romance and many more interesting titbits that will leave the reader positively gagging for more. The book I am reviewing this week is none other than ‘Winter of the World’ by Ken Follett. And let me inform you, it is a fantastic read. As mentioned in the review for the book previous to this in the Century series, this was my first encounter with Ken Follett as a reader. I had literally never heard of him before this, which I am deeply ashamed to say. Nevertheless I have countered this by reading as many of his books that I can get my hands on.

Winter of the World is just like its predecessor. A story that follows the lives of five families (now the children of the families in the first book) in five different countries (England, Wales, Germany, Russia, America). However instead of revolving around the First World War, this novel concentrates on the Second World War, and the impact it had on the characters in each of the countries previously mentioned.  As an avid fan of anything to do with the Second World War, you can understand my intrigue with this book. Not only does the author provide the reader with a look at society during this era but also provides us with an in-depth historical and political analysis of the time, which is reflected quite effectively through his character storylines.

The novel chronicles the major events between the years 1933-1949, so we are privy to the sate of Germany following the aftermath of the First World War, the rise of Hitler and his fascist movement, the lead-up to the involvement of allied countries, the Spanish Civil war, the final entrance of America into the war through the war in the Pacific and the brewing tensions between Russia and other countries leading to the Cold War. Ken Follett successfully describes the horrendous nature of this war and the persecution of various races through the use of his well developed characters who represent the courage and fear that was widespread during this terrible time. 

This is one of those novels where you come away from reading it actually learning something new. As already mentioned, I’m a fanatic when it comes to the Second World War, so to actually come away from reading this book with such new knowledge was a wonderful experience. There were many scenes and characters that stood out for me in this novel, from the brave and passionate Carla, who dared to fight against the tyranny of Nazi Germany, to the Welsh character of Lloyd, who seeks to rid the world of fascism, to Daisy, a brash American who quickly realises that buying into a title will not buy one’s happiness. There are such a wide variety of characters, who are both interesting and dynamic so the reader quickly becomes part of their world without any trouble. 

What I also like about Ken Follett, is his ability to show us points of view from every ranking in society, be it the lower classes or royalty. He superbly captures the personification of these classes and the reader can literally observe what daily life was like for these groups of people in this era. He does this with such clarity that the reader is transported back through time and scenes become so realistic its uncanny. Follet also has a talent for writing a monstrous sized book and yet the story is so fast paced, one finishes it without realising just how long the story is. A true talent of an author I must admit. 

This is a read that must not be missed my avid readers. For those of you that love a fast paced thriller which incorporates history, romance and politics, this is the book for you. I also dare to say that this novel is even better than it’s predecessor. It is a great pleasure to have had the honour to write a review for it and I do hope I have convinced you all of its worth.

As always please do not hesitate to leave your opinions or any comments either on my blog or my twitter page.

The Avid Reader 🙂 

https://twitter.com/theavidreaders

Changeless (#2 novel in the Parasol Protectorate series) by Gail Carriger

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Book: Changeless

Author: Gail Carriger

Rating: 9.8/10

What a positively, entertaining, hilarious, suspenseful and thoroughly enjoyable read. I must declare myself utterly tickled following my latest reading experience of Gail Carriger’s ‘Changeless’. I also am of the opinion this novel is the best in the series. If you are a fan of the supernatural, steam-punk, and Victorian era  genres, then I beseech you avid readers look no further then the cleverly put together works of Ms. Gail Carriger. The author is an altogether genius at merging these genres together in a manner so utterly entertaining, the reader will be positively craving the next instalment of the Parasol Protectorate series.

As with the first novel in the series, we meet the feisty, intelligent and altogether gutsy character of Alexia Maccon, now the Lady Woolsey, on yet another daring adventure. Having been honoured with the role of ‘Muhjah’ by Queen Victoria, which is a position on the Queen’s top secret shadow council that deals with supernatural, political affairs, Alexia is thrown into yet another mystery to which her preternatural powers come in to question. This time the mystery consists of a rather strange wave of  unsupernaturalness, as I would like to put it, is plaguing the supernatural set and reverting them to their previous mortal state, which is altogether quite unseemly for them. Alexia’s husband, the wonderfully gruff and ruggedly handsome, Lord Conall Maccon, has simply up and disappeared to Scotland in quest of this mystery and also an issue with an old werewolf pack of his.

Alexia is left to her own devices, which readers of the previous book will know, will never end well. With her unusual taste in friends as allies, she decides to take matters into her own hands and solve the mystery herself. With a recently purchased, ugly, but supernatural battling efficient parasol, Alexia finds herself facing danger from all sides and also more knowledge on exactly what being a preternatural entails.

Old and new characters alike aid the exhilarating plot. The author also challenges society viewpoints at the time for example Madame Lefoux, a woman inventor and scientist, who not only dresses like a man but regularly bequeaths Alexia with amorous advances, which is an altogether refreshing aspect to read for a novel set in a stuffy, annoyingly polite Victorian society.  The reader also observes a more in depth look at certain characters from the first novel such as the charming Professor Lyall, the eccentric and preposterous Lord Akeldama, as well as Alexia’s best friend, the entertainingly senseless Ivy Hisselpenny. The novel also shows the beautiful relationship that exists between Alexia and Conall, and how newly married life is treating them. They are both learning how to relate to one another and it is truly like these characters are dear friends, the reader is granted the ability to observe their playful and fiery relationship.

So yet again, Gail Carriger provides the reader with an endearing romance, come supernatural, come steam-punk novel that is so hard to put down. The author’s talent lies in her use of humour, which permeates every page of the book for example, in a scene chronicling an unfortunate incident Alexia gets herself into, the author plays out the events in such hilarious fashion, and I will now quote from page 176 of the novel, an exchange between Alexia and her friend Ivy:

“But honestly Alexia, I do not mean to be boorish, but you do realize that your underdrawers are exposed to the night air, not to mention the public view?” 

“Ivy, I am hanging on for dear life to the side of a floating dirigible, leagues up in the aether. Even you must admit there are some instances wherein protocol should be relaxed”

“But why?”

“Ivy, I fell, obviously”

I still giggle incessantly at this scene in the book and there are many others just the same throughout the novel.

I therefore beseech all you avid readers out there, to go purchase a copy of this book series. It will not disappoint and I thoroughly await the ability to discuss it with you all once read. Gail Carriger is a force to be reckoned with in the world of steam punk and the supernatural. I dare you to disagree.

As always, comment or tweet me your opinions,

The Avid Reader 🙂 

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger.

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Rating: 9.5/10

Book: Soulless By Gail Carriger.

It has been quite awhile since I last wrote a review on a novel of the supernatural genre, as always when reading books filled with vampires and werewolves alike, it can be quite difficult to encounter a story that is well written, innovative and has not been ‘Twilighted’ as I would like to call it. This novel definitely accomplishes this. And what’s more, it combines the supernatural with steam-punk and comedy! yes you read that correctly, this book will have the reader in fits of giggles quite regularly over it’s flamboyant and entertaining characters who range from vampires, werewolves, ghosts and other such preternaturals. Even in it’s darkest moments the author manages to incorporate a wicked sense of humour and an impressive supply of sarcasm that hooks the reader from the very first line. For fans of Austen, Downton Abbey and Steampunk, with a slight hint of Bridget Jones’s diary, this is the book for you! It is the ultimate chick lit, a guilty pleasure you cannot put down and having read the novel twice already in the last two years, it is a must. I must admit I had not heard of the Steampunk genre before the discovery of this book series, I obviously must have been living under a rock as it clearly has a huge fan base and tends to go hand in hand with the supernatural genus but this novel is successful in making these two categories quite normal.

In the novel itself, society has allowed the integration of the supernatural set. The author’s depiction of Victorian society is utterly brilliant. The vampires are ruled by their queen in hives, the werewolves are led by their Alpha, and the humans are ruled by none other than Queen Victoria. Even a supernatural police force exists, called the B.U.R (the Bureau of Unnatural Registry). The novel actually tends to elude to the politics at the time quite effectively and the involvement of the supernatural set in politics, which should be a ridiculous theory to begin with, is astoundingly normalised. The reader will even see a class protocol with the vampires and werewolves which is also quite intriguing. In fact after the first chapter, the reader ceases to question a realistic society. I do believe that this emphasises the sheer talent and courage of the author to take on such a radical take on the supernatural genre. Ms. Carriger incorporates the history of the time and it’s norms quite effectively.

As to the wonderful characters in the story, they are simply magnificent. From page one the reader encounters the impressive, charming character of Alexia Tarabotti. I do believe Alexia is quite the feminist. When society at the time dictated women to be altogether demure and prudish, Alexia counters this entirely. She’s brash and radical, a spinster at the tender age of twenty six, due to her Italian appearance and curvaceous figure. Alexia however is quite fed up with the norms society dictates. She possesses a brain, which at the time was considered quite a mortal sin for women. She has an altogether entertaining obsession for tea and cakes and these two things are of the utmost importance for this character throughout the story. Her interest in the latest and greatest science inventions earns her the despair of her mother, Mrs Loontwill (for she remarried after Alexia’s father’s death) who worries that her eldest daughter’s anarchistic behaviour will damage the future prospects of her younger sisters. What her mother does not seem to realise, as she is a complete and utter ninny, is that her daughter is anything but normal, she is not exactly human either. Alexia Tarabotti is a preternatural, a soul sucker, with the ability to turn any kind of supernatural creature back to their human form.  Alexia inherited this astonishing gift from her late Italian father, a gift her mother, half sisters and step-father have no knowledge of. Of course with characteristics such as these, is it any wonder that Alexia Tarabotti finds herself in the most ridiculous yet dangerous positions.

It is at this point in the novel the reader meets the intimidating and dashing Lord Conall Maccon, the Earl of Woolsey, the alpha werewolf of the London pack and also a member of the B.U.R. Lord Maccon and Alexia did not get off to a good start, and at the beginning of the novel, she continues to frustrate him with her incessant ability of involving herself in matters she should not. Of course it is obvious to the reader that Lord Maccon is to become the love interest for Alexia, the two are too stubborn to recognise this however. Lord Maccon is over two hundred years old, although a werewolf and Scottish to boot (gasp), despite all this, he is considered quite a catch in this London society. The author quite regularly describes his physique in the tall dark and handsome category, one must admit that his animal magnetism does wonders for his character. His arguments with Alexia are thoroughly entertaining and Alexia, even though she has no werewolf qualities at all, is a force to be reckoned with.

One cannot write a review on this novel without mentioning the wide range of other colourful, charming character that permeate the pages of the book. From the gallant, wise Professor Lyall, who is Maccon’s beta and his advisor to the loud, eccentric, flamboyant and quirky vampire friend of Alexia’s called Lord Akeldama. Lord Akeldama is a rove vampire, meaning he does not wish to be part of the local hive and instead lives alone with a dapper group of drones. Lord Akeldama is an old friend of Alexia, and takes great pleasure from her preternatural abilities when most supernaturals view them with terror, as with one touch she can render them helpless. Quirky seems to be a trait that Ms. Tarabotti searches for in her friends as we also meet the hilarious character of Ivy Hisselpenny, a dear friend of Alexia’s who is not in the same social standing but is Alexia’s confidante in all things ridiculous. Ivy is also quite notable for her vast array of wacky hats which are anything but the norm and the bane of Alexia’s existence. Another important character to note is that of Alexia’s butler, Mr. Floote. A butler the Loontwills inherited from Alexia’s father. Floote is always on hand to aide Alexia in whatever way he can, and seems to have a mysterious past with Alexia’s father which isn’t really properly developed in this book but will be mentioned in the books to follow in the series. He is altogether reminiscent to Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey, he is aware of everything that goes on and knows when his presence is required. It is clear he has a soft spot for Alexia also in a fatherly manner. Although he rarely speaks in the book his presence is pivotal. 

This novel encapsulates everything a girl could want in a supernatural novel. It has a love story that will stand the test of time, an array of magical and colourful characters (supernatural and human alike), a great historical background and a wide range of entertaining scenarios that will leave the reader gasping for air following a serious bout of the giggles. The villains in the story, take the form of a group of scientists and activists who wish to perform tests on the supernatural set so as to eradicate them. It is a tale of utter brilliance and I do personally feel that one is losing out if you have not read this novel. For the characters of Alexia and Maccon are the heartbeat of the story and portray a love story that supplies endless flirtation and arguments that will leave any reader amused. 

I do not wish to delve any deeper into the plot for fear of ruining it for future readers, but I must implore any avid readers of the supernatural genre to pick up a copy as soon as possible, for this is one story you do not want to miss. It is the ultimate holiday read or something to curl up beside the fire with a cup of tea. It is a light hearted tale and does not require much from the reader itself. Gail Carriger is perhaps one of my favourite authors for this reason, when one is faced with books that require a lot of time and concentration, Ms. Carriger offers instead, a novel that has oodles of laughs without the need to invest too much. 

As always, I look forward forward to your comments and opinions. 

The Avid Reader 🙂

Twitter: twitter.com/theavidreaders

Book Of The Week!!! Dragonfly in Amber- The Outlander Obsession Continues…

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Rating: 9.5/10

Diana Gabaldon has done it again. Another epic saga of love, despair, sex, violence, history, family and bucket-loads of Scottish charm. The second novel in the outlander series takes a much more in depth look at the history of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 from its genesis to it’s tragic end. Although this causes the novel to be a lot more slower in pace then its predecessor, it is essential as it provides the backdrop, crisis and a cliffhanger for the next novel.

The beginning of the book is entirely different in it’s opening chapter compared to that of it’s prequel. Something is already amiss as the reader discovers that the year is 1968 in Scotland, and our beloved heroine Claire Randall is not only alive in 1968 but is in her late forties and has a 20 year old bonny red haired daughter! (cue gasps of shock). Sacre bleu!! What has happened?? Where is the dashing, charming Jamie Fraser??? and why has Claire aged?? And who is this so called Brianna???

Once one takes a few deep breaths and allows the torrent of foul language to exit the body, one understands what exactly has occurred in the novel. Claire Randall has returned to Scotland after living Twenty years with a huge gigantic secret. In quest of the truth of what exactly came to pass at the battle of Culloden, in particular what happened to Jamie and his men, who the reader now discovers, must have taken part in the battle. With the assistance of an historian called Roger Wakefield (who was actually a child in the first novel in World War 2 Scotland and is the nephew of Frank’s late friend Reverend Wakefield). Claire hopes that Roger can help her quest for answers and complete his Uncle’s research on the subject. Paramount to all of this is the fact that Claire has brought her daughter, Brianna along for the trip, in hopes of finally confessing her past to her daughter which will inevitably cause her daughter to question everything she has known up to this point of her life.

Now the biggest questions any reader would be having after reading the opening chapters is obviously what occurred that forced Claire to go back to her own time and why in God’s name has she left it this long to discover what exactly happened to Jamie and his men at the battle of Culloden. Well unfortunately I cannot go into too much detail as that will spoil the suspense for future readers. However I can say there is a valid reason for this and beg future readers to have the patience (which is quite trying at times I will admit) and persevere with the novel. When Claire finally begins to shed light on her story to Roger and Brianna we are quite effectively sent back through time and so begins part two of the novel.

Once again we meet our star crossed lovers, Jamie and Claire, as they begin their journey and paramount plan of preventing the inevitable attempt of Prince Charles Stuart of regaining the English throne. Our beloved characters have gone through hell and back and now seem to be residing quite happily (which is shocking considering how the previous novel ended so dramatically) in an inn in France. Jamie has begun working with yet another Fraser cousin by the name of Jared, who owns a wine making business. Through Jared, Jamie and Claire are able to rub shoulders with the crème de la crème of French society and aristocracy, in hopes of rubbing shoulders with Bonny Prince Charles himself. In doing so they could try persuade the Prince against the ill fated rebellion and therefore ensure the safety and survival of their friends.

For the most part, this section of the novel is quite slow in taking off, but it is important to note that this seems to be the purpose of the author as she sets a scene for the exciting events that will follow. It also gives the reader the luxury of witnessing married life for Jamie and Claire. Although I must admit Jamie is absent from their home way too often in search of some means of thwarting Prince Charles’ rebellion. However their married bliss is short lived, due to the dramatic arrival of Black Jack Randall on the scene, whom may I point out was supposed to have been killed in the previous novel. However much to Claire’s shock and dismay, Black Jack strikes again and brings forth his misery and depression onto poor Jamie, who cannot handle the fact that this awful man still exists in the world. Once more I can’t go into specific facts but needless to say Black Jack’s arrival puts a strain on Claire and Jamie’s relationship. Claire after all is pregnant with Jamie’s child, and wishes to do no more than keep her husband from harms way while also protecting her future husbands, Frank Randall’s existence. 

Alas, here lies my main criticism with this novel. There was a part of me when reading about these issues Jamie has with Black Jack and how far he is willing to go in order to seek revenge, practically sacrificing the welfare of his family, has made the character of Jamie almost unlikeable. In fact I will go so far as to say that I despised him in the Paris section of the novel. In the previous novel I had adored the character of Jamie, and had instead, issues with the character of Claire. However in this story, there is a complete role reversal in my opinions of the characters. Jamie does somewhat redeem himself in the latter part of the novel, but I cannot forgive the author for allowing me to hate Jamie with such passion. I blamed him for most of the conflict in this stage of the novel. I understand the level of his hatred and abhorrence of Jack Randall, and it definitely is natural for one to want to seek revenge in his position. But I cannot understand why he could risk so much to try and achieve this. One wholeheartedly sides with Claire and her plight and it is utterly devastating, believe me.

This leads me to also congratulate the author in her ability of creating such emotive writing. I can positively assure you that you will transition through a string of emotions whilst reading this novel. From disbelief to absolute rage to devastating anguish and sorrow. It is honestly as if one was aboard a roller-coaster. In fact I felt a need to put this book down more often than the first due to this tsunami of emotions that would come over me. I often had to go away and ponder what occurred and reason with myself as to what my thoughts were. It is this that is the mark of a great writer. The ability to provide her readers with the ability of becoming the characters, to such an extent that they feel as if they are part of this world. They feel every hurt done to these characters. They feel the joy, the love, the hope and the devastation of it all.

The third part of the novel brings us back to Scotland and the rebellion has become an actuality. Here Claire and Jamie begin to mend again following their tumultuous time in Paris. Once again the characters are the ones the reader fell in love with in the first novel. There is a brief reunion with Jamie’s family and an altogether comedic account of the planting of potatoes (which as an Irish person who considers potatoes very important in one’s diet, its quite entertaining). Alas once more their bliss is shattered and war is on the horizon. Despite all of Claire and Jamie’s hard work to prevent the Jacobite rebellion, it is not only taking place but Jamie and his men are forced to be a part of it.

The novel concludes with an awful cliffhanger that you want to despise but secretly admire the author’s balls for pulling it out of the bag. For it is clear towards the end of the novel, the author knew from the start that this was going to end this way. I may curse the ending all I like but it is brilliant, I cannot deny it. The reader comes to realise now what has occurred for Claire to be alive in 1968 and how tragic the circumstances were to allow all this to take place.

I honestly loved this book. I cannot love it more than ‘Outlander’ but by God it was bloody brilliant. There are such amazing new characters that come into play (Fergus, Prince Charles, Mary Hawkins, Alex Randell, Jamie’s grandfather Simon Fraser, Jared Fraser, King Louis XV, Master Raymond and many more that would take forever to list) that each play such an integral role in the story and are the backbone of these novels in my opinion. A character is never introduced in order to be a filler in the background, they will always have a higher purpose and tie the plot together in a nice pretty bow that allows the major events to take place quite effectively. There is also the return of much loved characters such as Murtagh, Jamie’s right hand man, Dougal MacKenzie (for wherever there’s drama, Dougal is always close behind), Colum MacKenzie, Jenny and Ian, Hugh Monro, the Lallybroch men and so on, also create the link with the previous novel and also provide a means for cementing the richness of the story at hand.

I personally prefer the first novel ‘Outlander’ but trying to compare these two novels beside each other isn’t exactly fair. The first novel had the paranormal aspect of time travelling, which was mentioned quite a lot and it was evident that Claire was out of her depth in an old fashioned world as an outspoken independent woman. In this novel however, Claire has settled in to the 1700s lifestyle, she is the loving wife, the care giver, Jamie’s rock. She is more wary of what she says and does, for the most part and although throughout the novel, she is fighting alongside Jamie to prevent the rebellion and can provide the knowledge of events that will occur, from her own study of history in the future, one forgets the time travelling aspect quite easily until the end of the novel. In fact even the accusations that she may be a witch become almost normal and you forget that this novel might have a supernatural element to it at all. It is so enriched with history, that it is by right a true historical fiction novel rather than a supernatural one.This novel also answers many silly non important questions I had whilst reading the first novel, such as, what do they use to brush their teeth? , and how does a girl remain hairless in such times? (ridiculous observations I know, but I needed to know).

Is this book perfect? no it’s not, but it’s damn close! I had issues with it as I do with any other novel, but I must admit this author is very clever is her ability to mask these issues so that you soon forget them on further reading. My biggest issue as mentioned before, was the issue with the character of Jamie, particularly in the Parisian scenes of the novel. I hated his character quite a lot and I’m fuming that his character has been slightly tarnished for me. He does redeem himself once back in Scotland and becomes the loving, playful character he was once in the first novel. However it is important to note that these characters have gone through so much so it is evident that Jamie himself has grown up somewhat and the harsh and horrific incidents of his past have tainted him somewhat. I did dislike how Jamie went from wanting to murder Jack Randall to an almost indifference towards him at the end of the book. After all he put Claire through, I was raging when reading this indifference!

I apologise most sincerely if this review is somewhat long winded. It has taken me hours to compose, but I am trying to convey to you avid readers, just how astounding this novel is. It is a read that is charged with emotions and should be approached as a soldier would approach a battle. It packs a punch and leaves you begging for more. It combines a love story with a real historical rebellion so dramatically it’s magnificent. It’s harsh, violent scenes are both shocking and acceptable. Its love scenes are passionate and playful. Yes the novel has issues, and indeed upon reading others reviews on it I am scolding those who nit pick at such ridiculous issues in the book, such as opinions that it was too boring in parts. Yes it is slow paced at times, but it is pivotal that the author does this in order to set the scene and create the atmosphere for the events of such magnitude that will follow and for other novels to follow too I might add. I must thereby finish by begging future readers to approach this novel with an open mind, do not expect ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ to be just as ‘Outlander’ was. It is an entirely different kind of story that should be given it’s own respect and should not be compared to the first of the series.

I am as always, open to comments and you can also reach me on twitter.

The Avid Reader 🙂

twitter.com/theavidreaders

Book Of The Week- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlander

Book: Outlander 

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Rating 10/10

Quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read. That is how I would like to open this review. From page one of this novel the reader is bombarded by an assortment of characteristics that immediately attack the senses. The richness of the language used, the colourful characters, the scenic landscapes that you can vividly imagine, the charm of the Scottish and most importantly the intense, passionate love story that is the heart of this novel, lays the groundwork for this epic best-seller by the author Diana Gabaldon. Wow. This is a book that truly left me breathless from the outset and throughout.

So what is it about? As plainly as I can put it without giving too much away, Outlander is a story based around the strong willed character of Claire Randall, who throughout the novel both infuriates and delights me with her brazen, domineering personality. At the start of the novel we meet her as a world war two nurse who has finally reunited with her husband, Frank Randall, for a much needed second honeymoon, after being separated due to their duties in the war. The couple decide on Inverness as their honeymoon destination as Frank is trying to trace an ancestor of his by the name of Captain Jack Randall. Whilst his head is stuck in the books, our self assured heroine decides to wander around the area, in search of flowers and plants and visits the infamous ruins of standing stones by the name of Craigh na Dun. Claire touches one of the stones and faints, the stone turns out to be some kind of time travelling machine and when we next meet Claire she wakes up in a completely different era, the 18th century to be exact. (history recap, it’s the eve if the Scottish Jacobite rebellion)

After a being assaulted by a man who looks oddly like her husband, she is rescued by a band of kilted Scots,led by a grumpy but captivating man called Dougal MacKenzie, who naturally upon hearing her accent presumes her to be a spy for the British, a ‘Sassenach’ meaning outlander. Claire tries to prove her worth by using her medical training to re-align a dislocated shoulder of one of the Scots, a Jamie MacTavish (or Jamie Fraser as he is later known). Jamie of course becomes the second half of the novel’s love story but all will be explained in time. Claire is taken back to their Clan leaders home, Castle Leoch. Here Claire has to prove herself, using her medical knowledge, to persuade the Clan leader, Colum MacKenzie, Dougal’s brother, that she is not a spy. However Claire’s headstrong qualities result in her ending up in the most dangerous of situations,as she tries to escape the suspicious Scots to try and find her way back to Craigh na Dun. Her bids for escape become more and more futile, and desperate, Claire feels utterly and physically lost, but she has an unlikely ally in the dashing, brave and charming red head, Jamie, who has secrets of his own. With this in mind, the two strike up an interesting friendship and Claire keeps finding herself utterly drawn to his company. 

And so begins one of the greatest love stories of all time. Torn between her loyalty to her husband in the 20th Century, but emotionally and politically tied to Jamie (trying so hard not to give too much away), Claire is ultimately faced with a choice, does she use her knowledge of history from the 20th century and chose to live a life in 18th century Scotland? Or does she remain loyal to a husband that she has been parted from for years due to the Second World War? 

Oh the suspense! This book is fast paced, but at the same time takes forever to get through, as there is so much back story, characters introduced and plot thickenings, that you must concentrate in order to get your head around it all. The story supplies you with everything you would want in a novel: adventure, mystery, romance, history, murder and lots and lots of drama. The romantic moments are often so intense that one might find themselves blushing and thinking that Game of thrones has nothing on the love scenes in Outlander! 😉 However everything fits right in this book, the romance between Jamie and Claire is so enlightening and really over turns male/female roles at times. Claire is the teacher and Jamie is the student. However their passionate arguments also portray Jamie in a truly macho, man protects the woman role too. It’s all utterly contradicting, it’s brilliant!

What truly shocked me about the novel however, is the depth of violent happenings that occur throughout the novel. From witch trials to rape to female beatings to public whipping, I was left sick to my stomach with the graphic nature of these scenes. The reader is truly left gasping for breath, It’s shocking in nature and how the author captures the depravity of these situations is truly genius. I have read a lot of books in my time, and never have I come across such harrowing accounts of violence and such emotionally charged scenes. This is what sets Outlander apart from any other type of novel in this genre. With most books one begins to predict how the story will conclude, but I can assure you most certainly, you will never, ever predict this one.

This leads me to question what I like and dislike about the book itself. One issue I always return to, is my liking of the main character Claire Randell. On a whole, she is everything a woman would like to be, she has a career, she is smart, educated, charismatic and attractive sounding. However as Claire is sent back in time to 18th century Scotland, issues with the character begin to appear. Yes she is clever, but really for that particular day and age I don’t think she should have been so outspoken. In many scenes in the book she comes out as rude and insulting to characters that are quite high up in the pecking order and could annihilate her in mere seconds. And yes I understand her need to return to her real world and be reunited with her husband, but after she invests so much emotionally and physically with Jamie, I find it hard to sympathize with her character when she acts so stupidly and disregards things Jamie has done for her. As to the other characters, they’re all fantastic, well rounded beings that all play a pivotal role in the story. Jamie is perfect as the hero of the story, and the author perfectly balances his ego with a glimpse of innocence now and then. However another issue that I must raise is this so called ‘innocence’ of Jamie, again without giving too much away, I found it very hard to believe that in that day and age, he would be so uneducated about the goings on in the world. Don’t even get me started on how he must punish Claire in one of the scenes of the book, which I’d love to get feedback on people’s opinions of this particular event. It was shocking and unethical but I suppose that is the aim of the author.

Overall however, this book is the most provocative, thrilling, stimulating, intriguing, dramatic, breath taking, shocking, spine-tingling, rip-roaring (I could go on with the adjectives for days) book I have read in a long time if not ever! The author magically gives us this time travelling world that is both realistic and magical. She gives us this epic love story which is the heart beat of the plot, these two characters that are so charismatic, we feel as if we know them. The historical aspect also adds to the drama and flair of the era and provides the reader with an insight into life back then, Also the use of the Scottish accent and dialogue adds to the charm of the novel and really makes the reader want to pack their bags and head to the highlands as soon as possible. 

I could not recommend this book enough and I am thoroughly eager in awaiting comments/opinions from anyone who has also read this book and enjoyed it as much as I did. I would also like to point out that by the end of the book I was trying so hard to slow down my reading speed so I could savour the story while it lasted a bit longer.

I await your comments with delight!

The Avid Reader. 🙂