Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life's a Beach: Diana Gabaldon, George R. R. Martin, & Winston Graham

Life's a beach whether you want it to be or not when the temperature is this hot.  I keep cool in my butterfly-print shortie pajamas (wearable to the grocery store), drink iced tea in glasses with cocktail umbrellas, and download beach books onto my Nook.   (Southern energy-saving tip:  Keep the windows closed during the day and open them at night when it cools off.  If it doesn't cool down, turn on the AC at night.)

The BEACH BOOKS are, of course, the most important items on the list.  I have spent hours choosing just the right books.  

Number One on My Nook. I'm very much enjoying Diana Gabaldon's Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series.  You can't go wrong with Gabaldon if (a) you're a woman, (b) don't feel like reading the George R. R. Martin books but want a trendy series, (c) like historical novels, (d) like romance, (e) like time travel, or (f) all of the above. 

A friend urged me to read the Outlander series. "Jamie!" she said.  "Jamie!"  Jamie is apparently the sexiest guy in fiction since the priest in The Thorn Birds (or something like that).  There's a woman named Claire who steps into the cleft of a standing stone and accidentally time-travels to eighteenth-century Scotland, where she meets Laird Jamie and has political and historical adventures.  My friend loves these books so much that she went berserk over the 20th year anniversary of Outlander  this summer and tried to bribe a bookseller to sell it to her before the publication date.  To please her, I read the first book awhile ago and thought parts were well-written, but parts were trashy romance.

I lam glad I transcended my supercilious gotta-read-literary-fiction attitude, because Dragonfly in Amber is better than Outlander.  It starts in 1968, with Claire, an American doctor, and her 20-year-old daughter, Brianna, visiting Scotland.  Claire wants to tell Brianna that her father is Jamie of the 18th century, not Frank, Claire's 20th-century husband, a historian who recently died.  But how can she make Brianna understand?

Okay, the book is not perfect, but it's lots of fun.  One minute Claire is freaking out in a graveyard because she sees Jamie's gravestone, the next she has told Brianna and a young historian who has fallen in love with Brianna the truth (the historian believes her), and the next we've flashbacked and time-traveled back to prerevolutionary France in the 18th century,where Claire and Jamie have fled, because Jamie was condemned to death by the English.  Now they are secretly working to stop Bonnie Prince Charlie's efforts to regain the Scottish throne.  And Claire and Jamie frequently go to bed.  Detailed sex scenes, but not that sexy.  But you get used to it...and the historical novel part is great. 
Fun pop lit!  Love this one (so far).

Number Two on My Nook.  George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, the first in A Song of Fire and Ice series.  George R. R. Martin has saved the publishing industry this summer, or so I understand from all the articles about A Dance with Dragons, the fifth in the series.  Stores expected e-books to do well, because there is a ravening fan base, but found to their surprise that fans really wanted the physical books as well.  Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City said of the series, "It's Harry Potter for everybody."  

I didn't like the Harry Potter books, but I loved Twilight.  So I understand where this is going, though I'm not in on this trend.

I tried and failed to read A Game of Thrones a few years ago after a bookseller told me he would give me my money back if I didn't like it.   I didn't like to tell him I didn't like it, and I ended up giving my paperback away.  

But you know how it is.  I have to read the first one now. I need to know what I'm missing.   So I've downloaded it onto the Nook.  I'm a fan of science fiction and fantasy, so we'll hope it takes this time.

Number Three on My Nook.  Winston Graham's Poldark books.  My friend Ellen of Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Two loves this series of historical novels set in the 18th century.  She has written about both the books and films.  Visit her blog for much about the series; she even taught the first book, Ross Poldark, this spring.

Very enjoyable, well-written, and I adore Poldark, an impoverished aristocrat who returns to Cornwall from the Revolutionary War with a limp only to find he's lost his girl to his cousin, Francis, that his house is a shambles, and he needs to refurbish a mine so he can revive the local economy and his own income. 


Buried In Print said...

I'm still debating the Gabaldon question -- so I'm interested to hear you weigh in -- but I've had a copy of the Martin novel kicking around for years and I'm determined to read it before I watch the series that everyone seems to be raving somehow it'll have to wedge its way onto my stack.

Frisbee said...

I've read 200 pages of the Gabaldon--very entertaining. The Martin is on my Nook. I've got some other SF higher on my pile though.