Cross Stitch – Diana Gabaldon,
1991 (Kindle Edition 2011) Outlander #1
I read this on the recommendation of several American friends – and because the new tv series is being filmed not far from my home – I was curious.
At first I was impressed. I very much enjoyed the writing style, the story was interesting and I was well on the way to being in love with Jamie and best friends with Claire.
I loved Claire’s voice – a strong, resourceful, passionate woman – not at all what I’d expected to find in an ‘historical romance’. The book is wonderfully descriptive but I think I read that the author had never visited the Highlands when she wrote it. I can believe that, since she writes about hills as features in the landscape – in the Highlands, the hills ARE the landscape.
If the book had ended at Lallybroch I would have been very happy and no doubt gone on to read the rest of the series. However, the book did not end at Lallybroch…
The long and detailed scenes of physical, sexual and emotional torture were not only unpleasant but totally gratuitous in my opinion. Perhaps the idea was to turn the old ‘damsel in distress’ story on it’s head – but regardless of whether the victim is a woman or a young man, rape is rape. Not only were these scenes unnecessary to the plot, the weird, semi-supernatural method used to ‘cure’ the trauma at the end was just ridiculous and stupid.
The last quarter of the book was taken up with this nonsence and pretty much spoiled the whole thing for me. I increasingly found myself wondering dubiously about the author’s own sexual preferences and – to be totally honest – feeling great pity for her husband.
This was a shame because, latter sections apart, I liked this book