Tuesday, October 13, 2009

57. AN ECHO IN THE BONE - Diana Gabaldon

In a word: disappointing.

The background of the series - Claire goes back in time to 1700s Scotland, meets and marries Jamie Fraser, yet must go back to her own time because she is already married to Frank.

For Gabaldon fans, anything more would be "spoilers," so for the full review, see the comments section.

2.0 out of 5.0 Bonesetters.


Kristin Dodge said...

The last time we saw Claire and Jamie, Brianna and Roger had to return to 1960s America because their daughter, Amanda, needed heart surgery. Claire and Jamie had not yet decided on his role for the American Revolution.

It is 1777, and they decide to go to Scotland. What? This goes against everything that Jamie stands for as a fighter.

Of course, things happen (which reflect other books - seriously, could they have one boat trip without a problem?), and they end up Ticonderoga. However, the reader does not get to find out about Claire and Jamie - the beloved characters of this series - until practically a third of the way through the book (except a passing mention). Gabaldon has created the "song that never ends, it just goes on and on, my friends." She adds characters and plots until there is too much, overwhelming the original love for the original characters.

The other books about Lord John are combined into this one, along with the story of William (which was unbearably long and boring). More new characters from that tedious line. More impossible plot twists that will ensure another three decades of these books.

This pains me. If you are interested in the series, read the first three books. After that, it feels like she found the money train and just hopped on. I'm heading to another station, sistah.

Stefania said...

Mmmmm... a book about time travelling, I'm not sure I'd like it (unless it's about LOST, ahahah).

Hey Kristin, I've find somebody who reads faster than you:
http://www.readallday.org ! :-D
An article about this book blogger appeared on "La Repubblica", the main broadsheet in Italy.

By the way, I see you're reading A.S. Byatt's "The Children's Book". Are you venturing into the Booker Prize shortlist?

Laura Resnick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristin Dodge said...

Oh, deleted poster, it was such an amazing answer.

Jason said...

Claire goes back in time to 1700s Scotland

The book lost me right there. Sounds like a typical setup for one of those consciously-shitty SciFi movies.

Belinda said...

Don't bother, if you have been waiting for this book with as much anticipation as I have, you will be extremely disappointed. Writing style has changed to the boring , dry & dull Lord John style. No emotion, no gut wrenching tear your heart out scenes. Dull Dull Dull. I will not bother buying the next book, despite the fact that I have re-read the first six books so many times that I have has to re-buy the first two books three times as they fall apart after about the tenth read. Echo in the Bone left me feeling deflated and ripped off. Belinda

Belinda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Another Reader said...

I agree: Disappointing.

Plot and structure weren't ever really Gabaldon's strengths, but the structure of this book is a MESS, and if there's a plot anywhere, I couldn't find it. The story just meanders sluggishly all over the place, with a gazillion minor characters and obscure plots entering for a couple of scenes, the disappearing, never to be seen again.

Compelling prose style and strong characterization HAVE always been Gabaldon's strengths... but they collapse here. The main characters are all bland and tepid, and Jamie and Claire's conversations with each other throughout the book are so inane, it's hard to believe I ever felt interested in this dull couple. But the dullest character in the book is surely William, who takes up about 1/4 of the text... and who seems to exist solely to regurgitate the author's research about the war.

Finally, even Gabaldon's prose style, which starts out strong, falls apart by the end of the book. The final 100-200 pages read like a rough draft that she never went back to develop or polish. Various characters make extreme, dangerous, and peculiar choices for flimsy, lame, unbelievable reasons, and then carry out these decisions in half-baked ways with embarrassingly stiff dialogue and unconvincing narrative.

And I think the reason [SPOILER ALERT!] that so many fans are so displeased with the scenes where Lord John and Claire are in bed together is that the scenes were so badly written. Rather than forging an emotional bond in their mutual grief and coming together in a blind craving for comfort... these characters seem to have sex out of mutual boredom and curiosity; and the sex isn't followed by conflicting emotions and confusion, but instead by a civil chat in which Claire asks a series of clinically curious questions about John's sex life as a gay man.

There are various ways the Claire-John dynamic might have been moving or emotional or shocking, etc. But the way the author wrote it, it's just silly, tasteless, and a bit creepy. As well as so out of character that Claire and John are unrecognizable in these scenes (as they are, actually, in most of the book, anyhow).

Sea Angels said...

I agree with nearly all of these comments..in fact did she even write this boring utterly rubbishy book, because it is nothing compared with the first 3 and I am sooo disappointed, but glad to know it wasn't just me !!!!
Thanks for that
Lynn xx

Netherland said...

I have loved each and everyone of these books, from the Outlander thru the series and could hardly wait for the latest. I agree, it took a little getting into but I can't fault the author's choice to bring in more story lines using the characters she has introduced throughout the series, and making Lord John Grey a central character in this book only makes sense considering her separate novels devoted to John Grey. I had a wonderful time reading the book but....it seemed this 828 page book was actually a 1600 page book arbitrarily cut in two. Since she has warned us it takes her five years to write each novel I am afraid I may not make it until I find out how she resolves all the hanging stories introduced in the final fifty pages. I assume there will be a follow up book and I am relieved she did not kill off any essential characters in this book (I was very concerned she might kill Jamie and end the series with this book.) This is obviously not the end of the series, but its end seemed manipulative, and reminded me more of a soap opera or the tickler at the season final of a TV series to make certain we tune in next season. Diana Gabaldon has not done this in any of the previous books. They each completed their story lines and tied up loose ends.