If you've found this book, make sure you go and read the first three! Start with Cross Stitch, and go from there. Saying that, it is not essential to read the first three books and enjoy this one. I know people who have done it and haven't been disappointed.
Drums of Autumn is the fourth book in the Claire and Jamie saga. At well over 1000 pages in each book, you would think that four books in the author would be running out of things to happen to the characters, but you are so wrong. It is hard to write about these books without giving too much away, but as with the first three books, the elements of romance, adventure, battle, passion and history are seamlessly woven around what makes these books so special- time travel. From 1960's America and Scotland to the same places in the late eighteenth century, every word will have you hooked and wanting to read more.
I highly recommend this book, and this series to anyone interested in Scottish and/or American history, as well as to anyone who loves a good read. You will not be disappointed.
Back in 1999, I read the book that I consider my all-time favourite novel. It was Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon (The US title is Outlander) and it followed the story of Claire, a woman who travelled through time and fell in love with a man from the past a Highlander called Jamie Fraser.
It was such a captivating novel, that it wasnt long before I read the sequel Dragonfly In Amber then in 2000, the third book Voyager. But despite buying the next three novels in the series, I didnt get round to reading the fourth book Drums of Autumn until this year. In fact, I just finished reading it today and as I loved it, I wanted to share my thoughts here and hopefully persuade more people to try Diana Gabaldon for themselves.
Her novels are huge weighty books. The paperback version I have of Drums of Autumn is 1185 pages long. Personally, I enjoy long novels as you really get a chance to know the characters and follow their lives for some time. Despite its length, I have never felt Gabaldon uses much padding everything is there for a reason. Even after completing such a huge novel, I was left eager for more and I was disappointed when it finished.
Drums of Autumn is better read after the first three books in the series, although it would work as a stand alone story too. It concentrates on Jamie and Claire again, but also their daughter Brianna and her boyfriend Roger. Brianna and Roger begin their story in 1969 Brianna being based in Massachusetts, USA, with Roger in Scotland. Jamie and Claire Fraser are meanwhile living in 1767.
When Claire first travelled back in time in Cross Stitch, she did so by the power of a stone circle in Craig Na Dun, Scotland. Brianna and Roger both know about this and therefore, they potentially have the knowledge to travel back as well. Brianna has never met her father, as she came back through the stones with her mother as a baby.
Later on, Claire discovered Jamie was still alive and went back to be with him, leaving Brianna in the present day. As Brianna grows up, she finds herself missing her mother, but also thinking about her father more and more. Her life in 1969 is good though. She is intelligent and happy but somehow restless and incomplete. Will her curiosity lead her to try to travel back in time too? And if so, what will Roger do?
The mention of time travel here might lead you to expect the novels to be science fiction, but they arent really. I would describe them as time-travelling historical romances, but again, this might be misleading. They arent slushy girlie romances with knights on white stallions. My husband has read the books and enjoyed them as much as I have. Besides romance, there is violence, sex, swearing, executions, war, rape and torture.
But overall, these novels are family sagas which involve you, draw you in and carry you away. I have never met a female reader who has read these books and NOT fallen in love with Jamie Fraser myself included. Yet he is not perfect. He has real faults, annoying quirks and irritating habits. Each character is like this, so even the lesser-mentioned ones are vividly real and evoke varying emotions in you, as you read along and live their adventures with them. It is just like revisiting old friends and seeing what theyre doing nowadays.
Reading a Gabaldon novel is rather like watching an epic film. There are evocative descriptions of the country, amazing characters being very well acted and the whole thing is held together by a brilliant and inspiring director.
The novels are extremely well researched too and I have found myself learning a lot about Scottish and American history. A lot of it is fascinating and has made me want to find out more about a certain time, event or custom.
Diana Gabaldon writes beautifully. Her stories are well-paced and very clever. The only disadvantage I have found is that sometimes events refer back to things that happened several hundred pages before, so I have to check back if I cant remember something well enough. But thats a minor fault and probably mine. Otherwise, I cant recommend the books highly enough.
How far will a woman travel to find a father - a lover - a destiny? Across seas - across time - across the grave itself. It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle. Claire Randall was swept through time into the arms of James Fraser whose love for her became legend - a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Two decades later, Claire travelled back again to reunite with Jamie, this time in frontier America. But Claire had left someone behind in her own time - their daughter Brianna. Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she risks her own future to try to change history - and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past - or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong.