I apologise in advance, because this review is going to be so full of spoilers. I am so shocked with this I can’t even come up with words to explain this. The hypocrisy of it all is just threatening to suffocate me. And I need some help to decide whether I should go on.
Just a little context: a bit over 10 years ago, my mother lent me this book to read, but as I am not a big fan of translations if I can avoid them, it has been sitting in my bookshelf back home ever since. Then, about a year ago, I watched the first couple of episodes on Amazon Prime Video and thought it looked really interesting, but as these things go, life got in the way.
Fast forward to last week, when Audible was having a Diana Gabaldon sale, which each book going for under 5 quid a pop. I figured it was my chance – and bought all 8 books. And promptly started reading.
There were so many things I loved about this book.
It has an incredibly interesting starting point for its plot. The writing is really good – I tend to get bored with historical fiction really easily and I did not feel even slightly annoyed with it in this book. It takes place in Scotland, where I just went on vacation, so as she described the Scottish Highlands all I had to do was close my eyes and be transported there.
An added bonus was the narration, which in my opinion was just superb. I am not originally from the UK, so I cannot attest as to whether the accents were good or not, but they sounded great to me, and I could easily tell which character the narrator was reading simply from the accent and tone of her voice at any given time. Plus, accents are sexy and I enjoy audiobooks that play around with them.
Then, there were some that I felt like were just not my cup of tea, but I could accept.
For example, the description of Jamie did not sound appealing at all to me. He most definitely didn’t look like Sam Heughan from what I read, more like Hagrid and Arthur Weasley’s lovechild. Which as I said – does not make me hot, but to each their own.
Also, the sheer mysoginy of it all really threw me for a loop for a while there, but I decided to strike it up to 18th century realities, and breath through it. I mean, I cannot fathom a world where I would allow some guy to beat me and then simply let him screw me the next day because he shared stories about himself. And then fuck me raw and do it again the the next day despite my protests and not consider it rape. I mean when I heard the phrase “He would be gentle, but he would not be denied.”, I just shuddered and wanted to scream at the author/characters that gentle or not, not being denied is the definition of rape. That is just not okay.
But this was the reality of 18th century society. Rape and assault are just a small part of the everyday reality for those women and even if I was uncomfortable with the way the author was romanticizing it all, I would just have to accept it and try to ignore those parts. After all, I spent 40 quid on these 8 books and I wanted to enjoy them.
But then, came the parts I started having a bit too much trouble compartimentalizing, even considering this is just literature.
First came the victim blaming our so-called “hero” inflicted on his sister without even bothering to get his facts straight. I mean, he couldn’t go home because his sister “consented” to being raped to save his life? And lets say she had actually been raped and gotten pregnant. Her keeping the child and naming him after her brother was somehow offensive to him? It made her a whore? How? And what blame would the child carry for the circumstances of its conception, had that actually been the case? That seriously pissed me off.
And I won’t even get started on the fact that it wasn’t enough for Captain Randall to be a horrible person. No. The one fact that was supposed to move him from the horrible category into evil was the fact he was gay? Totally unnecessary and positioned this book possibly as the most homofobic book I have ever read.
And then, the pièce de résistance. Jamie gets raped. Violently and lovingly. And all of sudden, rape becomes a big deal. Cue the big pity party. Cue the moment when it is suddenly understandable for a guy to kill himself because he was raped, while it is perfectly normal for women to be raped on a regular basis and still be expected to love their husbands. Cue the guy starving himself and making a big deal of the fact he wants to die, and receiving last rites from the monks.
While I am not trying to say that male rape is unimportant by any means, what I cannot stomach is the different treatments given to a man and a woman put into the same situation. Because I can guarantee you that if the one who had gotten raped was a woman, Jamie would still feel like he was the one wronged. Oh, wait, no “if” necessary: that did happen.
I will again refrain from touching the clusterfuck that was the scene where Claire pretends to be Randall trying to rape Jamie again and he gets a hard-on trying to fight her off. I just had no idea what was going on there.
A little over 2 hours to the end and I just feel like throttling the author and actually started the review before I actually ended the book. I have never done that before. That is how mad I was.
Anyway, this just means I am confused. If I had read this book 10 years ago, before I was really aware of myself, my opinions, and the injustices of the world around me, I might have loved this. It is well written, it was beautifully narrated, and I couldn’t take my headphone off for the best part of 4 days. I wanted to know what would happen next. But there were some parts that were just unnacceptable to me. I tried, but I just couldn’t deal with the hypocrisy.
So I need some help here: I spent quite a bit of money on this and I don’t want it to go to waste, but I don’t know if I can stomach much more of the mysoginy and homophobia.
Some please tell me whether I should continue on with the rest of the series. Does it get any worse?