Sunday, January 03, 2010

And now for something completely shorter...

Last Monday I blithely laid out my reading/viewing plans for the week, and I'm happy to saw that I did finish The Fiery Cross, fifth in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I thoroughly enjoyed it, hadn't remembered huge chunks of it, but gratifyingly remembered key nuggets, so it was a thumping good reread.

None of my bloggie friends have mentioned being Gabaldon fans, that I can recall, which is a bit surprising, frankly. It's excellent time-travel, with a spunky, intelligent, attractive heroine and a hunkster hero and wonderful twists and turns to well-crafted plots. True, this fifth book, like the others, weighs in at just under 1000 pages, but it's relatively quick to read once you start pacing yourself.

What I enjoy most about these books is how Gabaldon has so neatly solved the problem that plagues most historical writers, anachronisms. The fact that Claire Randall Fraser is a twentieth-century woman learning to live in the mid-eighteenth century she can get away with saying and doing modern things because she is modern. Repeatedly I read the chief complaint against any given historical novel is that women couldn't or wouldn't act as the author has them act. Gabaldon doesn't have this problem because her two main heroines, Claire and her daughter Brianna, weren't raised in the timeframe in which they are currently living. Brilliant!

All my gushing aside, I do need a break from Gabaldon, though I do plan to read her sixth and seventh books in the series before next winter. At least that's the plan.

In them meantime, I need to read and think about and write about Ethan Frome (only 133 pages!) for the Edith Wharton leg of the Classics Circuit, which starts tomorrow. Mark your calendar to visit me on January 18 for that post. I'll be on a business trip that week, so I'll be writing it ahead of time and queueing it up to post from a hotel in Florida. Yes, Florida in January. I also do Florida in August in case you're wondering.

I'm a hairsbreath away from finishing the audio book of Vanity Fair which I posted on a while ago here. There's another massive book that I've managed to complete and enjoy completely. Not one to stick to my resolutions and stick to short books, I'm thinking the next audio book will be either Pickwick Papers, which will be a reread, or a Tolstoy (either War and Peace or Anna Karenina, depending on what the library has since I haven't read either.

Speaking of the library, their computer called me today to let me know that it's holding a copy of Murder at Longbourn for me. That one's short, isn't it? Can't be more than a couple hundred pages tops.

Need to squeeze in reread of Northanger Abbey before Valentine's Day and my next JASNA meeting.

Oh well, my TBR list is more ambitious than I have time for. It's back to work tomorrow, though it's been a wonderful, relaxing holiday.

My best wishes for a happy, prosperous book-filled 2010 to all of you.


  1. Hope you had very relaxing and joyous holidays, Jane. I can't wait for the beginning of The Edith Wharton Tour at Classic Circuit, I'm sure we'll read many interesting reviews. I won't forget to read yours on January 18. I'm reading Wharton's The House of Mirth right now and my review is scheduled on January 15 instead.Then, also my TBR list is always more ambitious than I have time for ... but is this kind of ambition so wrong? Maybe frustrating when you can't get to the goal? Have a nice day!

  2. I'm surprised you haven't come across any other Gabaldon fans because I seem to fall over them everywhere I turn and yet I still haven't been able to get into her work. I really must try again while there is time for reading during the long evenings. I wonder if she's available on audio?

  3. Maria - I've got you on my calendar for Jan. 15. I loved Age of Innocence and have been meaning to get to The Buccaneers and House of Mirth. Can't wait to read your post. Ambitious TBRs are what it's all about! :)

    Ann - yes, Gabaldon is definitely on audio. I picked up The Fiery Cross years ago on audio not knowing what it was, listening to the first disk and decided I better start at the beginning. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

  4. I used to be a Gabaldon fan, but I overdosed on the books and began to get sick of them. There are some I haven't read, so maybe it's time this year to read the next one.

    I was thinking of reading The Pickwick Papers this year or at least one Dickens book (reading Drood has raised my interest in Dickens and Collins).

    I loved both War and Peace and Anna Karenina - you have treats in store!

  5. I like Gabaldon.

    But it's not typical of me and what I normally read so I don't talk about it much...Fiery Cross is my favorite though...that and Dragonfly in Amber, that one was really good too.

  6. I'm going to finally start the Gabaldon series in the next month or two. I'm very curious about it!

    I have tons of Dickens to read this year but I think I am going to start with Oliver Twist (sadly never read) and then A Tale of Two Cities (a re-read twenty years after I was tortured with it in high school).