Bookish Thursdays: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Summary from GoodreadsIn this breathtaking novel—rich in history and adventure—The New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that began with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. Once again spanning continents and centuries, Diana Gabaldon has created a work of sheer passion and brilliance…. It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna…. Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

I loved Drums of Autumn. Almost as much as I loved Outlander. Almost. Even though I didn’t love Voyager, I read Drums of Autumn because it was there and I felt compelled to keep reading Claire and Jamie’s story. I’m glad I did. Drums of Autumn restored my faith in the series and I am now quickly moving through The Fiery Cross.

Once again, Gabaldon delivers a strong novel about love, relationships and family.

This time the Frasers are in America – the new world. And what a fierce world it is. Claire and Jamie battle the political landscape, wilderness, poverty, and the knowledge that war will once again find them with ferocious courage and determination to make a good life for themselves.

Any romantic notions about time travel are quickly dissolved in this novel. Gabaldon paints a picture of a very hard life. The struggle to survive is the focus of each day. The constant preparation for long winters is exhausting. I wouldn’t last a month.

I loved Brianna’s journey in this book – both literal and metaphorical – and absolutely loved when she finally finds her parents and meets Jamie. The adventures in this book are vast and full of unexpected turns. My mouth fell wide open with shock at certain points and I just could not put the book down.

I thought Gabaldon did a nice job of developing Jamie and Brianna’s father/daughter relationship.  They disagree on most things; their views on life and gender are completely alien to one another due to being from wildly different centuries. Yet, the love they have for each other helps them to bridge the abyss no matter how unforgivable their actions may seem.

This book highlights new characters and conflicts that Jamie and Claire bravely face together. It also manages to maintain the deep love and romance between Jamie and Claire without being redundant or overly dramatic. I really loved the growth in Brianna’s character as well.

Drums of Autum was so much fun read. It was entertaining and had just enough romance, intrigue, violence and adventure to leave one fully satisfied and ready to read the next installment upon closing the book.

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Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

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From Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:  From the author of the breathtaking bestsellers Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, the extraordinary saga continues.  Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.  Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

I like Gabaldon’s books.  I don’t love them.  When I am in the mood for adventure, outrageous coincidences and a male protagonist who is, well, perfect, Gabaldon’s books work. When not, I have to admit, they feel a little like torture.  At least Voyager did.

In Voyager, Claire returns to the past to find Jamie.  Over twenty years have passed – Claire and Jamie are middle-aged and still madly in love with each other.  It’s sweet.  They have a romantic reunion, followed closely by dangerous and crazy circumstances that only Claire and Jamie can manage to create.

I find it very difficult to relate to Claire.  I almost see her as an ignorant tourist.  You know the ones who go to other countries and expect to find all the luxuries and conveniences they left at home; those who become irate when they can’t find said conveniences and get angry when others do not speak their language?

This description is a bit unfair to Claire because she has a good understanding of the century to which she travels and knows what to expect.  However, she also brings with her many of her beliefs from the 20th century about women, education, and people of different races – and though I can’t blame her anger in the face of sexism, classism and racism, what does she expect? To change the people around her because she knows more?

I need a good long break from Claire and Jamie – I’ve read the first three books of the series consecutively, so perhaps I judge harshly due to fatigue from the same scenarios over and over.  Claire and Jamie cannot live without each other.  Claire discovers secrets about Jamie’s past.  Jamie deals with said secrets like a knowledgeable self-help guru of the 21st century.  They encounter danger – Claire is headstrong and dives into impossible situations from which Jamie must always save her (on a few instances, she does save herself).  Blah blah blah…Yes, I definitely need a break. 

I also find the books needlessly long.  There are SO MANY scenes and entire chapters in Voyager that could’ve been dropped from the novel and the plot would’ve remained intact.  I flipped through 10-12 pages at a time out of boredom without compromising my knowledge of the plot and characters.

I know it sounds like I dislike Gabaldon’s series; but I honestly don’t!  I was very happy with the resolution to Voyager and am actually looking forward to reading book 4, Drums of Autumn which has Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, making the trip back in time.  She will (hopefully) be a refreshing change and I am sure her reunion with her father will be a touching one.

Anyway, I won’t read about that for a while because there are other books on my list to tackle.

Have you read Voyager? What did you think?  

Have you come across books in your reading life that you liked, but skipped scenes and chapters along the way?

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