Book Review: ‘Cross Stitch’ by Diana Gabaldon

(re) Read: March 2013

Enjoyment/Story Rating: 4.5/5.0

Style/Language Rating: 3.6/5.0

Note: As you can see there’s been a slight change to the way I rate things. This is due to the fact I did not think it entirely fair to lump the rating of the content/story in with the author’s ability to write/usage of language, because one might be extremely different from the other. If someone can think of a better, all-encompassing, word for the above categories please comment and let me know! I’ve got a lovely head-cold at the moment and my brain isn’t working properly…

Anyway, on with the review!

I have always loved this story, hence the reason the enjoyment rating is so high. It’s fast-paced, it’s sexy, it’s dangerous and it’s intriguing; all wrapped up into one novel. I must have read it at least four times, and every time I still get a lot of enjoyment out of it, wanting nothing more than to go into hibernation with my book and a never-ending flask of tea. I told you I have a habit of returning to things I’ve already read…

The story itself concerns a young woman, Claire Randall, dragged through a circle of standing stones in Scotland from 1946 to the world of the Jacobites in 1743. She is in a world torn by conflict, suspicion and clan-feuds. Having been a nurse in World War Two she is more than equipped to deal with the bloody wounds and carnage that face her as she struggles to return to the stone circle to get back to her own time. What she isn’t prepared for is the passion and attachment she will develop for a young Scotsman called Jamie Fraser; who offers who equal passion, love, protection and fierce loyalty. She is torn between two worlds; the one she has come from and the one she finds herself in; where she knows the impending disaster of Culloden field is looming…

In my opinion the book is definitely more aimed at those who enjoy a “romantic” novel, but it does have scope to be enjoyed by all. It is not a historical-novel per say, more bordering on fantasy with touches of reality here and there. The two main characters are well developed and their relationship is continually interesting as we see how the events around them effect themselves and each other. I enjoy that fact that even though Claire adapts to the world she is living in, she doesn’t lose the independence afforded her as a twentieth century woman. When you juxtapose her with the character of Jenny (Jamie’s sister), you can see that even though they are both strong and independent, there are major differences between them. Clair certainly has some fairly twentieth century ideas when it comes to eighteenth century discipline, the patriarchal society and also the “proper” place for a woman. The language is approachable – even when it’s written in broad scots! I attempted to read some of the lines written in a Scottish accent (i.e. “dinna fash yerself lassie”) but for some reason always ended up in an Irish one… oh well!

I think the reason I enjoy this book so much, is that whilst it is a romantic novel and does seem to make every woman fall in love with Jamie Fraser, it does also have the blood of the Jacobite Scotland, the historical touches, the fantasy/sci-fi aspect and also the many many plot twists and turns which leave the reader wanting more. This is the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series and I will be fairly shortly embarking on number two A Dragonfly in Amber. If you’ve read this novel; please let me know what you thought about it!

‘… da mi basia mille, diende centum,

dein mille altera, dein secunda centum…’ 

(Then let amorous kisses dwell,/On our lips, begin and tell/A Thousand, and a Hundred, score/A Hundred, and a Thousand more.’

Thanks,

B

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