Controversy, and Diana's reaction
* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *
Don't read below unless you have finished AN ECHO IN THE BONE. Major spoilers below!
Those of you who follow the discussions in Diana Gabaldon's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community will surely have noticed the explosion of posts there in the "ECHO: Claire and Lord John" thread in the last few days, regarding the Claire/Lord John subplot in the last part of ECHO, and various readers' reactions to it.
This particular discussion on Compuserve has been one of the liveliest we've had since the initial discussions right after ECHO came out last fall. It's also been the subject of some pretty heated debate on the LOL Books Board (although Judie has since decided to close down that discussion).
As Diana herself said:
There's usually at _least_ one mega-inflammatory episode in each new book, that leads to long-term arguments.
No question at all, the Claire/Lord John subplot is by far the most controversial part of AN ECHO IN THE BONE. (To put it mildly!) And it has led to a lot of criticism among the fans. I won't attempt to restate the arguments here. I just wanted to point out a few of Diana Gabaldon's more lengthy and interesting responses.
Diana's response to the comment that Claire's actions (particularly, having sex with Lord John) seemed out of character.
Was the last section put together hastily as a result of deadline pressure? No, says Diana. It was deliberately constructed that way.
I mean, look at it logically. I've written six books--large, complex ones--prior to this. Three million words, about, _all_ (I think) executed with care, precision, and one heck of a lot of internal engineering. And all of them _different_, in terms of style, structure, approach, and theme, even while they involve the same people.
So ask yourself--why on earth would I suddenly lose my mind and abandon both pride and sense and just slam something out? I'm a <cough> Rather Big author these days; I can't be forced to hand over a manuscript if I don't think it's ready to go. (In fact, I've _never_ given a publisher a manuscript before I thought it was ready, no matter what my sales status. As I've often said, my only obligation is to the book.)
Construction of Section 7 - an exchange of emails between Diana and her editors, discussing the events in the last part of the book.
Some thoughts on the subject of readers' expectations.
I would encourage you to read through some of these threads on Compuserve, if you have time. (Please note, there's at least one small excerpt from Book 8 in the "Claire and Lord John" thread, so if you are an excerpt-avoider, you may want to skip over any posts in that thread with "spoiler space" in them.)
And you're welcome to come and post your own reactions on Compuserve, any time. As I've said before, we're always happy to see new people on the forum, and Diana likes to hear from her readers.