Tag Archives: Diana Gabaldon

Friday Faceoff – I’ll take the high road and you take the low road… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceofflandscapecovers

Standard

This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are looking at covers featuring LANDSCAPES WE’D LIKE TO VISIT. My father was a Scot and I’ve always wanted to visit the Scottish Highlands, so I’ve selected Dragonfly in Amber – Book 2 of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Portuguese edition – 1, May 2016

This Portuguese edition was produced by Nemira in May 2016, and shows the wonderful Scottish landscape stretching out behind Jamie Fraser – who is also somewhat easy on the eye… I love the quality of the light suffusing the backdrop, with the sun low in the sky seeming to explode across the mountaintops, also throwing the character into a partial silhouette. It’s nicely done and this one is my favourite.

Arrow Books – 1, March 1994

Published in March 1994 by Arrow Books, this offering also features the distant mountains and the edge of a loch – this time with Brianna as the main character. But then they plonk a grey textbox right across the middle of the vista and wreck the mood and feel of the cover. What a shame – this could have been a contender, otherwise.

Arrow Books -2, March 1004

Also produced in March 1994 by Arrow Books, this offering is far more successful. I love the sweeping vista of the Scottish landscape, with the small figures giving a sense of the epic scale of their surroundings. This one is so very nearly my favourite – my niggle is that the colour is too hectic for my taste and I find it offputting.

Portuguese edition – 2, November 2014

This is another classy effort by a Portuguese publisher, produced by Saída de Emergência in November 2014. It is a variation on the first cover – and the deciding factor for me, is that I prefer the position and body language of Jamie on the first cover. I think this one looks a bit posed – but I’m aware that’s a personal niggle and I still think it’s a fine offering. It certainly makes me want to be there, roaming around the Scottish hills…

Spanish edition, 1995

This Spanish edition, published by Salamandra in 1995, features a castle stronghold – though the fortifications on top of the mountain are largely hidden behind the author font. It is certainly a dramatic rendering of the Scottish landscape, reminding me of the 19th century paintings of Scotland that became so fashionable – and aptly captures the historical tone of the book. However, I don’t like the positioning or styling of the title and author fonts. Which is your favourite, and have you ever visited the Scottish Highlands?

Review of Outlander/Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

Standard

This is the first book of the best-selling Outlander series by established and prolific author Diana Gabaldon, though initially entitled Outlander in the U.S., it’s U.K. title is Cross Stitch. Would it live up to the enthusiastic reviews I’ve read?

crossstichIn 1945, Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently she walks through a stone circle in the Hightlands, and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and by clan feuds. A wartime nurse, Claire can deal with the bloody wounds that face her. But it is harder to deal with the knowledge that she is in Jacobite Scotland and the carnage of Culloden is looming.

That is as much of the chatty blurb I’m prepared to divulge – my policy of NEVER going near the back cover before reading the book once more paid dividends as I wouldn’t have touched this offering if I’d read the blurb before tucking into it.

This doorstop of a book – all 863 pages – manages to effectively evoke the period of Jacobite Scotland really well. Gabaldon is a technically accomplished writer, whose unfussy direct style nonetheless successfully recreated the expanses of heather moorland and the famously inclement weather. Her cast of Scottish characters also bounce off the page – Claire’s interaction with them is nuanced and interesting, and often funny. Her romantic hero is suitably tough and conflicted with plenty of edges to keep the relationship interesting.

If you have youngsters in the habit of reading your books, be aware that the strong romantic element running through the book doesn’t always end at the bedroom door, or on the edge of the wooded copse… There is a fair amount of sex throughout the book and also some shocking dollops of violence, which given the period in history, is completely in keeping. But nonetheless, I wouldn’t be particularly happy to have a preteen or young teenager reading it.

What set this book alight for me, is Claire’s character. I love her gutsy, angry response when the chips are down – and given that she has spent World War II nursing broken, traumatised men in difficult circumstances, her tough reaction is completely convincing. While Romance generally doesn’t do it for me unless aliens are involved, I was prepared to make an exception for this book – because it is exceptionally well plotted, well written with plenty of narrative tension and despite its length, I burned through it in less than a week, unable to put it down.

If historical time travel served with a hefty helping of romance is to your taste and you haven’t yet encountered this series, then go searching for it – it’s worth it.
8/10