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Very well written but sadistic
le 17 décembre 2014
To me, a very good book is a little like a relationship : when it's so good at the beginning, you really want to believe in it.
And "Outlander", at the beginning, was very very good.
First of all, it is well written and the descriptions felt awesome. It's the kind of book you plunge into. It isn't a “Harlequin” kind of romance. It begins like the very best kind or romance, like "Gone with the wind" or "The far pavilions". In so far as there is the romantic ploy, yes, but there is so much more! An enthralling historic context and great secondary characters, to begin with.
And so, at first, I just adored this book. And as in a relationship, when things go a little awry, you have this human tendency to put your doubts under the carpet.
I had fallen in love with the characters (well, not so much with the female part, truth be told) and I wanted to stand by them.
But, and there goes the « but », they go through a huge lot of misery. « That's all right, you tell yourself, « Gone with the wind » is not exactly a stroll in a garden and the times were rough in Scotland then ».
**** Alert spoilers****
And you go with this kind of justifications, until you come to the point when the hero beats the girl. With a belt.
And the thing is, yeah these things happened but it's just not supposed to be what a hero does. Not when it could have been avoided. And as they were both behind closed doors, to me, if it felt absolutely necessary they could have made believe he was beating her to safeguard Jamie's honor. No one would have been the wiser. And the justification of justice and “he had to do it” doesn't stand for long as the hero readily confesses he will take some pleasure in the part : “I said I would have to punish you. I did not say I wasna going to enjoy it”.
And here goes the first leap your mind has to do if you still want to stay with the book.
And I'm quite ashamed to say mine did it for a while. It was so well written and powerful, I just couldn't let it go and so yes, I was actively finding excuses for the hero : he was raised violently...
But towards the end of the book, Jamie finds himself another time in prison. And this was just too much.
Because this time, it was just too obviously sadistic : not only did the author have her main character already tortured and humiliated in the worse way possible, but then she has him raped. Yes, raped. And he confesses afterwards that he took some kind of weird pleasure in it.
But this, you learn some time after, because as the deed is done, you stay with Claire as she is thrown out of the prison : her freedom was the condition for Jamie to « agree to » being raped.
And there she ... finds herself facing wolves. And she kills one of them with her own bare hands. And here, your imagination, however good the talent of the author, just can't keep up. It could, you would say, as you have already accepted time travel. But no. Or the author should have explained it by Claire having fetched some special superpowers in the process.
And the whole time the heroin is fighting for her life against wolves, you think that at the very same moment, her Scottish husband is possibly being raped. And you just don't want to believe it.
But yes he is. And the author has it related very graphically afterwards. How is that ?
To me it was just too much.
And the question going on in my mind was « how the author could do that ? »
As far as I was concerned, I felt sick and I had not spent months writing it.
So I finally woke up from the book. And felt amazed at the extend of what a good writer – and make no mistake, Diana Gabaldon, to my mind, IS a good writer – had already have me agree to.
The power of words : a dangerous thing, indeed.