History-Yes! Scotland-Yes! Time Travel-Yes! Romance-Gag Me With a Spoon!

A couple of readers recommended Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander when I mentioned enjoying the setting of The Winter Sea.  I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book (set in mid-18th century Scotland) and don’t mind the time travel framework, but I found I couldn’t stomach the “romance” parts that compromised an otherwise great story with about 300 pages of repetitive, unnecessary, and cloying sex scenes.

Seriously, authors.  Cut.  It.  Out.  More detail doesn’t make it a better scene.  The point of a scene is to advance the story.  If you want to tell us that after the accident the main character lit out for the hospital while her child’s life hung in the balance, you wouldn’t waste time writing, “She turned the key and the car began to run because the engine was doing its thing and the carbeurator worked thusly, and the serpentine belt–while old and probably on its last legs and almost certainly dusty–did whatever serpentine belts do.  And she pulled the lever down two notches to put the car in reverse, which caused the gears to shift and some wiring to engage…”

Do we care?  No.  The mechanics of how the car works are not relevant to the story.  Likewise, I feel like mechanics can be left out of love scenes because we all know how these things work and what’s relevant about it is how a relationship is progressing or how the characters are changing or what is going on in the story.

So yeah, I should probably avoid romance novels.

I’m sad about this series though.  I really liked the characters and the story, and I think Gabaldon does a great job with setting and weaving historical detail into the action.  I just wish that I hadn’t had to skim SO much of the book.  I felt like the romance aspects slowed down the action and made huge swaths of the book a major slog.

If you’re a fan of the series, can you tell me if it gets better?  Would it be worth reading the other books, or am I going to feel bogged down in the same way with the other books too?


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4 thoughts on “History-Yes! Scotland-Yes! Time Travel-Yes! Romance-Gag Me With a Spoon!

  1. You nailed my sentiments exactly when it comes to gratuitous information of sex scenes in a book. I loved your analogy of describing the mechanisms of the car. Totally unnecessary – we know what happens. All it does is interrupt the story. I may link to this post next time I’m trying to express why those darned sex scenes in books annoy me.

  2. I think I’m one of the ones who recommended Outlander to you, and yet I completely agree with all of your comments. I like that book because of the time travel, characters, and setting, and would happily skip all of the romance aspects (especially the steamy details.) I just liked the other parts enough to put up with the lengthy passages that I’d end up skimming. 🙂

    I’ve never finished the series, but of the ones I have read (the first four I believe), the aspects you don’t like just get more extensive.
    Sheila @ The Deliberate Reader recently posted..Book Review: The Well-Educated Mind

  3. Oh no!!!! Outlander is a book?! And it’s like that!? Michael was afraid of this……..Funny thing is, there is a new American tv series called Outlander (obviously based on this novel) being filmed in Scotland as I type. We ran into the actors and stunt people one day at a horse farm and several days later we ran into the site finder and site transformer in a completely different part of the country. So, they kindly explained it all to us. And then I couldn’t wait to see the actual series but Michael was sure it would be just as you described. Oh well…….I might just have to watch the first part of the first episode.
    Heather L. recently posted..Scotland: 10 Things That Made the Trip Amazing

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