Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some thoughts on re-reading

I'm currently making my way through the first part of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER yet again. (Listening to the unabridged audio on my iPod. <g>) The first half of that book, up to the end of the Paris section, is by far my least favorite part of the entire series. (I'm embarrassed to admit how much I missed, the first time around, because I skimmed over large parts of the Paris section, finding it incredibly boring and slow-paced compared to what I'd come to expect with OUTLANDER.)

And though the ending of DRAGONFLY more than makes up for the slow pace of the first part of the book, I still find this book difficult to get through on re-reading. The opening "frame" with Roger and Bree and Claire in the 20th century seems to take ages to get through -- though it contains occasional delightful nuggets like the scene with Roger and Brianna's first kiss, in the chapel at St. Kilda's. By the time I get to the beginning of the Paris section, I want to yell at the book, "Get on with it already! I want to see Jamie!" <g>

I have a similar reaction to the chapter "Mr. Willoughby's Tale" in VOYAGER. I understand its function in the story (to explain Willoughby's motives for his actions later in the book), but I still find it hard to believe that Jamie understands Chinese well enough to be able to translate a very long and complex story like that. And I've found that skipping that whole chapter doesn't detract much at all from my understanding or enjoyment of the rest of the book.

So I was just wondering if any of you have parts of the books that you find difficult to re-read? And by "difficult", I don't necessarily mean just boring or tedious, but the emotionally difficult scenes as well. Some people skip over the scenes like Claire's abduction/rape in ABOSAA, or the miscarriage in DRAGONFLY. I don't personally skip over ANY scenes, no matter how hard they are to get through, but I'd like to hear what the rest of you think about this.

16 comments:

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I hear you! Funny, I like the Paris scenes in DiA, but found the first I read it the whole trudging through the Scottish countryside in battle leading up to Culloden very tedious. I too found Mr. Willoughby's tale ho hum, but understood the reason she wrote it as you do. I don't skip over any parts either, but do find the entire part of the Gathering in the Fiery Cross endless and I have trouble reading the whole Roger part beginning with his kiss to Morag all the way to the hanging and aftermath terribly hard to read. I found that harder to read about than Claire's abduction. As awful as her abduction was, I loved her rescue and I found the sound of drums coming closer and closer when she realizes they are coming for her absolutely thrilling! Interesting topic!

Joanne said...

I pretty much felt like I was on a wonderful rollercoaster ride with he first four books in the series -- enjoyed it all, even when it seemed to get a little long-winded in parts (I learned early on that "thou shalt not skip any parts" in DG's books or you'll be sorry! Every storyline is there for a reason, even though it may not become evident until much later in the saga. However, I have to be honest and admit that I struggled with Fiery Cross (at first)and felt that the thrilling rollercoaster ride had ended. I found it very tedious (the first chapters dragged on forever and I'd had enough of the rain and just wanted to get on with the wedding, for heaven's sake! But on subsequent readngs of FC, I now have a different opinion of it -- I actually love the book and appreciate the richness of everyday details and the depth of J & C's relationship as they mature and become grandparents.

Karen Henry said...

Joanne:

I have heard others comment (and I agree) that FIERY CROSS improves with re-reading, like a fine wine that gets better as it ages. <g> I still remember my bewilderment on my first reading of FIERY CROSS, with that Very Long Endless Day. ("150 pages and they're still on the first day?? Isn't there going to be a plot in here someplace?") But I enjoy the book more and more on each re-read, mostly for the dozens of wonderful little Jamie/Claire moments, but also for the focus on Roger's character. Not just the hanging, but the relationship between Roger and Jamie, which goes through such a transformation in this book.

Karen

Phyl (Bookishgal) said...

I haven't read Gabaldon's books (yet!!), but I have a similar experience with one or two of Dorothy Dunnett's books. (Have you read them? Wonderful.)

The fourth book in her Lymond Chronicles series, Pawn in Frankincense, ends very sadly and wrenchingly. The first time I read it, I was away from home for several months and desperately homesick, in the middle of a clinical depression. The second time, I was having to put my cat to sleep. It was only the third time I read the series that my life was happy, so it didn't hit so hard.

Nowadays, as I read the book, I'm always conscious of what's coming, and how, with every page, I'm getting closer and closer. Last time, about 3 years ago, I put the book down as we got close -- and I never picked it up again. Now I have to start the series again from the beginning. :-)

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Karen Henry said...

Phyl:

I've never read the Lymond Chronicles, though I've had people recommend the series to me before. But I can totally relate to what you are saying! There are parts of the OUTLANDER books that I dread on re-reading, because they are so emotionally painful. I find myself slowing down as I approach a section like that, making excuses to avoid listening to it. But as I said, I don't actually skip any parts of the books, no matter how painful it is to re-read.

I hope you'll give the OUTLANDER books a try at some point soon. You won't regret it! :-)

Karen

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen, Unlike you, I find the Paris scenes fascinating, but I experienced a similar reaction to the Gathering scenes of TFC. In fact, it took me three attempts to get through that first part so I could finish the book! I'm about to reread VOYAGER, and I also remember pushing through Mr. Willoughby's tale. Overall, I love these books and enjoy rereading them. This is my first time commenting, but I like your blog. It's one of my regular reads. :) Kathy

Karen Henry said...

Kathy:

Welcome! I'm glad you've been enjoying my blog.

Karen

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Jari Backman said...

Dear Karen,
Interesting <g>.

The beginning part of DIA is to me quite fascinating and I listen to it often. Although, I have listened the Paris section less, but I like it also. Maybe because of the 18th Century Paris map I found.

I had big difficulties with beginning of TFC, until I later understood that it only took one day and started the roll of so many new things. But already the second read was more rewarding as you then understood better those things. Although, I didn't remember Harley Boble in ABOSAA. The arc was tooo long <g>.

bnelson5561 said...

I agree that on first read DIA was probably me least favorite book - the French Court/Paris scene was too political - I just wanted them to get back to Scotland. However I am now listening to the whole series on audio book and found DIA much more emotionally wrenching this time. I literally cried (in my car) when Claire lost the baby and she and Jamie were separated. I thought the rift so deep they could never get back together (even though I knew they did). I cried again at their getting back together. Any book that can bring out such strong emotional response the second time around is a masterpiece to me.

Karen Henry said...

Bnelson:

"Any book that can bring out such strong emotional response the second time around is a masterpiece to me."

I wholeheartedly agree with you! I am always amazed that certain scenes bring me to tears EVERY time, no matter how often I've read or listened to them before.

Karen

Anonymous said...

I've re-read the series a few times now. I tend to read them in order, and every time I get through Outlander, I have a pause to steady myself to read DIA. (Sometimes it's a very long pause.) It's particularly difficult for me to read about the miscarriage, having had three myself. I know that shadow that covered Claire. Diana writes about it well.

darcyrschmidt said...

I am searching for the part where Claire either recalls or dreams about Frank having two portraits. I know I dogeared it... but cannot find it short of re-reading. Anyone have an idea where in the book it happens?

ly heng said...

I am always amazed that certain scenes bring me to tears EVERY time,
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