Reading Is Good For You

Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life

Books that Rock: The Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

This post is the ultimate in multi-tasking, as it not only celebrates the conclusion of my first book in the Outlander Reading Challenge, but provides a review of Drums of Autumn and a little Books that Rock offering as well. Might as well kill three birds with one stone.

What Went Down

The end of Voyager saw Jamie, Claire and company to the New World and Drums of Autumn picks up where that book left off, showing us how the gang establishes themselves in the backcountry of North Carolina.  There are all kinds of exciting events to keep us entertained in this installment: dramatic interactions with Jamie’s aunt Jocasta, perilous encounters with wildlife, nature, and disease, and even a certain someone’s long-lost son’s accidental trip to the bottom of the outhouse pit.

We can’t, of course, forget about Jamie and Claire’s grown daughter, Bree, who was left behind in the modern times when Claire made her trip through the stones in the last book. She has grown closer to Roger, the lad who helped track down Jamie, but is now torn between pursuing her burgeoning  relationship with him and warning her parents about a news clipping she has discovered that puts them in danger in just a few years time.

The Good, the (not really) Bad and the (definitely not) Ugly (spoilers ahead)

I think DoA, at least in my mind, suffers from middle of the series syndrome. There is quite a bit to love about this book and  the plot never drags, but its events don’t seem to stick out as prominently in my mind as that of some of the other books in the series. I tend to lump it together with The Fiery Cross, which isn’t at all where it ought to be.

There are some lovely Jamie and Claire moments, like when Claire quotes to Jamie from the Book of Ruth in the bible, telling him that she will follow him wherever he may go, or when they lay in bed simply talking. And, by golly, it seems like even when the two of them are in mortal peril, they can’t keep from making me laugh. I love how Claire is not the type of woman to stand in a corner, wringing her hands, when danger comes calling, but fights back with whatever is at hand. Even if it is a fish. Against a fully grown black bear. And thanks to Jamie and Claire, I now know that I’m not drunk if I can find my arse with both hands and my husband’s arse will fall under this category. Two becomes one flesh, and all, you know.

And then there was the second half of the book, which I think could be summed up nicely as “honesty is the best policy.” If the characters had employed a little more honesty in their dealings with one another, much of the drama that occurred would have been eliminated. I mean, seriously, ladies, if you wish to be married to a man someday, it’s probably best not to leave him letters making it seem as if you are breaking it off with him, when if fact you are traveling back in time two hundred years, hoping you can complete your task and come back to the future without him realizing you are gone. Not exactly the best way to begin a marriage. And gentlemen, it’s also probably not a good idea to beat up the man you suspect raped your daughter, sell him to Indians living hundreds of miles away from you, and then proceed to tell your wife you merely punched a tree. I seriously wanted to smack the both of them!

This, of course, brings to mind the best part of this series: the fact that the line between fiction and reality is slightly blurred when it comes to these characters. This may sound mental, but Jamie and Claire and the rest of the Outlander crew feel more like old friends than characters going through struggles that an author has devised to cause drama and excitement in a plot. Gabaldon has created such depths to her characters that it’s hard to remember sometimes that you can’t sit them down and give them a bit of a lecture when they do idiotic things.

And so the true beauty of books like Drums of Autumn is that we can again and again find ourselves immersed in an intricate world, spending time with characters we have grown to love and hold dear to our hearts.


And now on to Books that Rock, where I select a song or two that describe events found in the chosen book. I went all out and found three different songs* that more or less compliment several scenes in Drums of Autumn.

Winter Song by Sarah Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

This song, with a bit of a stretch of the imagination, describes how Claire goes looking for Jamie when he fails to return home in the evening after a winter hunting hunting expedition, not knowing what state in which she may find him.

Last Train Home by Ryan Star

This one’s a bit of a tongue in cheek option to describe Roger and Bree’s relationship at the end of the book, when they’ve been reunited and are getting used to one another again. I thought the line “Your dad said ‘stay away from my daughter,'” particularly appropriate, given the circumstances.

*Just kidding — the second song I was going to post, The Verb by The Swell Season, has not been posted as a video on youtube or google videos. It’s a new song, so there is a good chance they haven’t yet played it a a show. Do check it out, though, if you have the opportunity; it perfectly illustrates the disagreement between Jamie and Bree when she discovers her father has beaten Roger and sold him to the Mohawk (and, of course, that bit about her marrying another man to provide her child with a name and to keep herself from being called a whore factors into this as well).



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This entry was posted on November 30, 2009 by in Books that Rock and tagged , , .
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