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Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

Trigger warnings: rape, physical abuse


This is another one where I think if I had come across it when I was 20, I probably would have eaten it with a spoon. As it is, this old fart has been around the block too many times to accept scenarios in which abuse is presented as a way to engender respect and in which rape (threatened or actual, male or female) is used as a plot device.


Look, I understand that "life was like that" back the 1740s. Life is still like that, unfortunately. Doesn't mean that writers, especially female writers, have a free pass to rely on these very, very tired methods to drive their plots. Every unnecessary instance of rape both sensationalizes it and desensitizes readers to it. We writers can do better than this, and we readers should expect better than this.


It's a real shame, too, because there is a lot to like here: Gabaldon paints beautiful pictures of life in both 1945 and 1745 Scotland, for example. The writing in general is very good, too. I do think at 600+ pages, it could have been tightened. Claire herself is a great character, right up until the beating. At the beginning of the story, she's a battle-scarred nurse: resilient, independent, authoritative, competent. Afterwards, she's a loyal woman "in love." She has no agenda of her own any longer, no goals other than to be a good wife. Blech.


I could have used less lust and way more about the political intrigues of the time, the backstory of the town "witch," etc. Your mileage may vary, of course. I'd recommend this book to historical fiction fans who won't be triggered and who like lots of sex scenes.