Miscellenia

Cross and Outraged: a Cross Stitch/Outlander review

Every once in a while I write a grumpy, rant-y post, and apparently they can be rather amusing.  And every once in a while I promise/threaten to write a review of Cross Stitch/Outlander, and  now that I am doing so, I can definitely promise you it WILL be grumpy and rant-y, and possibly rather amusing, though (spoiler alert) the book is SO BAD, and so (more spoilers) rape-y that it really isn’t very amusing.  More creepy, gross and horrifying.

So, yeah, SPOILER ALERT.  This post will spoil all major plot points.  And some minor ones.  And possibly your ability to enjoy the book and TV show ever again, if you ever managed to in the first place.

First, a confession:  I didn’t actually finish the book.  It was that bad.  In fact, it was so bad, that not only did I not finish it, but I THREW IT AWAY.  In the rubbish.  I’m generally a mad collector and save-er of books, and would never condone throwing out a book.  The only other book I have ever trashed was one written in 1930s Zimbabwe that was full of the kind of racism that South Africa used to ‘justify’ apartheid a few  years later, plus, the ‘hero’ raped his neighbour’s wife when he found out his wife was cheating on him with his neighbour, and the author thought that was a totally justified move.  So that’s my standard for sending a book to the dump.  So keep in mind I’m reviewing something I couldn’t even finish.

And, obviously, I haven’t watched the TV show.  I’ve been told it’s better (“Oh, she’s not nearly as dumb in the show, and she actually kinda has a personality”  Me: “well, duh, they couldn’t find a cardboard cutout as dumb or personality-less as she is”)

Second, a warning: this post involves mild swearing, hints at less mild-swearing, and references to sex, violence, and total stupidity.

Right.  So Cross Stitch (as the version I read was titled).  It had been out for a decade when I started college, but everyone was reading it, and talking about it, and swooning over it.  It never really appealed, and in any case, I’d just discovered Terry Pratchett, so I pretty much ignored it.  But every once in a while throughout my adult life a group of women would bring it up, and be scandalised that I hadn’t (“Oh my gosh!  How can you not have read it?  It’s responsible for my whole sexual education.  It was so groundbreaking.  It’s how I learned women could want sex too!”  Me:  “Huh.  I thought that’s what Lady Chatterley’s Lover was for”).  So when I saw a copy in an op-shop I thought it was time I rectified that gap in my cultural awareness.

I used to believe you should read and watch things that were major cultural phenomena, just to understand what the world was into.  That’s why I read Twilight.  That’s why I read Cross Stitch. Twilight was bad, but I could deal with it.  Let me tell you, Cross Stitch cured me of any future obligations to read or do things because everyone has.

OK, so what’s so bad about this book?

The book is a ‘romance’ between 1940s nurse Blank-Brain (seriously, she has so little personality and characterisation, that I can’t even remember her name, plus, NO discernible intelligence or logic, so BB it is), who is married to a perfectly nice guy in 1940’s Britain, and 18thc Scottish guy Asshole Captain Carrot in a Kilt (his name is Jaime, a fact I only remember because Scottish guy in Dr Who is also Jamie.)  Like Captain Carrot he is red headed, way taller than everyone around him, into a slightly weird lady from foreign parts with some unusual talents, extremely charismatic, potentially a heir to all sorts of stuff, but unlike Captain Carrot, most definitely an asshole.  Also, when I think of the whole ‘romance’ ACCK! seems like the proper response.

BB falls through a gap in time back to 1740s Scotland, is forced to marry ACCK to keep from being tortured/raped/killed (this is going to be a recurring theme here), and falls in love with him.

Problem:

That’s not love.

Umm…if you suddenly get thrust into a completely foreign time-period, the very first person you meet is a vicious psychopath who tries to rape you (and, coincidentally, looks exactly like your perfectly nice husband), are ‘rescued’ from him but also literally kidnapped by a group of men who haul you off across the country, survive a few more attempted rapes, and a torture session, and are then forced to marry and have sex with one of the few guys who hasn’t actively tortured you, sexually harassed you or tried to rape you (yet – more on that in a bit), what you feel towards him isn’t love, it’s STOCKHOLM SYNDROME.

Problem: 

ACCK, as his name implies, is an asshole.  He’s abusive, controlling, and a rapist.

Blank-Brain first says she loves him shortly after he beats her.  The book sets it up as ‘she disobeyed him, putting everyone in danger, and if he didn’t beat her to punish her, none of the other men would forgive her for putting them in danger’, which may have passed muster in 18th c Scotland, but this is being read by modern women (and, judging by the ones I’ve encountered, huge amounts of teenage girls, who are using it as a template for their relationships), and that’s downright creepy.

Oh, the rape thing?  Doesn’t matter if you are married, if she says no, and he does it anyway, it’s rape.  The author writing it as ‘once she stopped screaming she got into it and then it was wonderful’ just makes it worse.  That is a HORRIBLE, REVOLTING, DISGUSTING message to give young women.  I’ve heard the TV show called ‘the feminist answer to Game of Thrones’, but let me tell you, there is NOTHING feminist about the book.  I am horrified that people could think that the relationship is an acceptable, admirable template for a relationship, and swoon over ACCK.

(If you’re wondering, I’m talking about the scene with the wedding ring, where Blank-Brain, typically, acts completely dumb and irrational, and totally makes me want to smack her (which is, of course, entirely different to ACCK smacking her, and in no-way justifies the rape)).

ACCK is such an asshole that when he meets his sister, who he hasn’t seen in 4 years, and who, the last time he saw her, was about to be raped and possibly killed by psychopathic-rapist-who-looks-like-BBs-husband, is, instead of being delighted that she is alive and OK, horrified – because she has two kids.  He berates her for carrying psychopath’s child and calls her a whore.  Multiple times.  Amongst other terms.  Even when she tries to correct him.  Doesn’t even bother to do the maths (spoiler, not psychopath’s kids) or ask her or be glad she’s alive and not a total emotional wreck.*

Problem:

Speaking of Blank-Brain acting dumb and irrational, that is her entire personality.  In fact, half the major plot-points in the book happen because Blank-Brain gets told/asked not to do something that is transparently dumb, gets left alone for 3 seconds/half an hour/a few days, and DOES THE EXACT THING THAT THE PERSON WHO IS NATIVE TO THE TIMEPERIOD AND HAS SOME KNOW-HOW ASKED HER NOT TO DO.  And then she almost gets raped/tortured/killed and has to be rescued.

~~~~

ACCK: Hey, would you stay hidden hear for a minute while we meet someone dangerous?  Remember, the land is full of dangerous people who want to rape/torture/kill you.

BB: Nah, I’m going to run away and try to make my way across the country with no supplies (gets kidnapped by people who want to rape/torture/kill her).

~~~~~

Crippled Lord with the power to protect or betray her: This is my son

BB:  Oh, how sweet that you love him like a son even though he clearly isn’t yours because I’m a nurse and know that you are sterile because of your medical condition.  You don’t mind me pointing out that your wife cheated on you and your heir is illegitimate, right?  That’s totally going to end well?  (gets kidnapped by people who want to rape/torture/kill her)

~~~~~

Him: I’m going off for a week, please don’t have anything to do with Witch-Woman

BB:  Gosh, he’s been gone three days and I’m bored and I’ve got this not-remotely suspicious message from Witch-Woman, delivered by someone who hates me, I think I’ll go see what she wants. (gets thrown in a dungeon, accused of being a witch, almost burnt/drowned).

~~~~

We’re told that BB does this crap because she’s independent and stubborn and fiesty and smart, but you can TELL us she’s smart all you want, the evidence is against it.

She is, in fact, so hopelessly dumb, devoid of any reason, and lacking in any shred of logic, that she makes Bella Swan look like an admirable heroine for young women.  Seriously.  Bella at least considers the situation she is in, thinks about the options, and makes decisions that are completely understandable for an intellegent but over-emotional 16 year old.

Blank-Brain, on the other hand, is so gormless I still can’t figure out how she survived WWII without getting herself killed by the nurses she blabbed on for having affairs, or the officer who had everyone find out he’d lost his important bits because she told the whole battalion, or someone in charge after she ran off to random parts for the 73rd time because she thought she could fix the whole war herself if she just trotted off to the Continent and threw rocks at the German Army (all of these are about the equivalent of her actions in the 18th c).  I pity the matron whose ward she served on.

Problem:

As if our ‘hero’ and ‘heroine’ weren’t loathsome enough, there is a nasty little problem with the characterisations in the book.  You see, two notable characters are gay.  One of those is the big baddie, the rapist psychopath who looks just like Blank-Brains 20th c husband, and the other one is a pedophile.

Homophobia ain’t cool y’all.

Problem:

If the characters weren’t bad enough, the book is full of the most cringe-worthy logical fallacies.  Blank-Brain is a nurse, and, when she finally tells ACCK that she’s from the future, does so by listing all the horrible diseases (smallpox and whooping cough, for example) she can’t get because of future magic (vaccinations).

OK, so the smallpox vaccine works and is awesome, but whooping cough?  She’s a nurse and should know that one has a very high failure rate, and wears off over time.

And she’s a nurse, so she should also know that there are still a TON of 18th c diseases she has no immunity to whatsoever.  (me, reading this scene.  “Oh, you can’t get smallpox?  That’s nice.  Ever heard of TB?  Cholera?  Typhus?  Any remotely serious cut?  Pregnancy?  Or what about the plain old common cold?”)

To her credit, as the book is written Blank-Brain is immune to everything.  What she lacks in brains she had in stamina.  She spends a LOT of time cold, wet, terrified, getting bitten by bedbugs and eating a poor diet, and the worst she ever gets from it, after over half a year tramping around Scotland, often in poor garb, is a headache.  Oh, and that’s after spending three days in a wet hold in the ground after she’s accused of being a witch.  At the very least she should have gotten one good headcold!

Problem: 

Oh, the historical inaccuracies…so many historical inaccuracies…

Obviously the book is a fantasy, and is just meant to be a bit of fluff, but…

…some of the inaccuracies are so basic that I would have known they were off had I read the book in 1998, while I was still in high school, with only access to my high-school library and the Moloka’i Public Library (and, let me tell you, neither of these specialised in 18th c history).

First, the clothing.  She shows up in 18th c Scotland in a mid-late 1940s rayon frock, and everyone thinks its a chemise.  Really?  Show me one 1940s rayon frock that could remotely be mistaken for an 18th c linen shift, and wouldn’t have zips and snaps and other bits that would immediately people think “Hmmm…what the heck is this?”  She changes her clothes at one point, and they get taken away by a housekeeper.  How dumb is the housekeeper to not look at the fabric and notions and go “Whaaa….?”

Also, it’s a bodice ripper.  As in, bodices get ripped.  Mostly hers.  Now, it’s not actually easy to rip a lot of modern bodices, and 18th c ones are pretty darn sturdy.  Ripping doesn’t happen!

Plus, she keeps showing up places with no clothes, and people give her full wardrobes.  Clothing is a heck of a lot (as in, by a factor of a couple thousand percentages) cheaper now, but I’d still be slightly baffled/annoyed if someone showed up and needed a full wardrobe, especially if they destroyed it at the rate Blank Brain does.

Also, her wedding dress is described as having buttons down the back.  Uh-uh.

Finally, for the inaccuracy that annoyed me the most, ACCK doesn’t know the F-word.

“OK”, you think “so it’s a fairly modern word and they didn’t have it in 18th c Scotland”.

Except that Robert Burns, writing 40 years later, used it…how shall I put this…ummmm…extensively (obviously that link contains coarse language).

It is 40 years later, but he does use it a LOT, but he was specifically collecting older phrases and works, and colloquialisms didn’t change quite as quickly in the 18th c. So either Burns’ poetry is the late 18th c equivalent of:

O gin a body meet a body,
Totes adorbs, but high:
Gin a body say to a body,
Bae, so on fleek!  You’re fly!

Or a well educated 18th c Scotsman who had also travelled in Continental Europe should be expected to recognise the F word.

(and yes, I did know this about Burns’ writings in high school.  Much to the mortification of my teachers, and delight of my peers, I discovered that our high school library had a Complete Works of Robert Burns, that was, indeed, complete, all nine inches and more.  No one had borrowed it in decades, and it suddenly became extremely popular.)

Conclusion:

Eww…ewww…ewww…ewwww…ewwwww…ewwwwww….ewwwwww….

Please don’t read this book.  Please, please, please, don’t let young, impressionable people read this book.  Please don’t look at the relationship shown in this book and think it is remotely healthy or OK.

*This, btw, was the point at which I lost it with the book, hurled it across the room (not for the first time), picked it up, walked outside, stuffed it in the rubbish bin, and never looked at it again.  Shaming and abusing someone for the consequences of a rape is something I can’t be having with.

98 Comments

  1. OH THANK GOD!!!
    I have not read the book but watched some of the show and its completely INSUFFERABLE. I can not understand why everyone thinks she’s an amazing feminist when as you said, all she does is get herself into ridiculously stupid situations and then have a man come rescue her.

    Also – I have a major beef with this: In the show, she has a go at her witch friend for well, being a witch..and how all those spells and what not are not science and its all superstitious hoo ha – bla blah blah. Is she forgetting somehow that she TIME TRAVELLED 200 YEARS INTO THE PAST?? All your scientific reason goes out the window with that one lady! And I’m talking to the author. It completely undermines the ENTIRE story, making her nursey-nurseness utterly redundant. That is what actually did it for me – that’s when I stopped watching..

    OH AND…
    There’s been so much gushing on the interwebs lately about the “Bar Suit” the costume designer made for Claire….but Claire left her time period in 1945 – LONG before the kernel of an idea about the New Look even came into being in the 40s. So what the costume designer is saying here, is that Claire is THAT fashionable and forward thinking that she came up with Dior’s iconic suit before he could have. And the costume designer’s reasoning is that Dior himself referenced riding suits of the 1700’s, which is fairly apparent – but I still think its a LONG bow to draw.
    ONE MORE THING: In the 1745 time period, in the show, she is very ‘fashion forward’ (gag) and wears all kinds of outrageous outfits to get herself noticed. Yet when she’s in the 40s, she dresses incredibly drab and dour. It doesn’t seem like a very consistent character at all. So all over the shop.
    WOEFUL.

    Okay I’m done thank you 😉

    • I haven’t seen the show, so I can’t really comment on it. I don’t remember her going at the witch lady for her witchyness in the book though, and of course, I don’t have it to reference 😉

      The New Look was actually just a revival of what a number of fashion designers were doing in the late 1930s (think of Hartnell’s designs for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Paris tour etc.), not nearly as revolutionary as people think, but of course she couldn’t have referenced the exact Dior suit!

      I haven’t really paid any attention though. I tend to either get into things, or don’t, and the book was so bad the show was a total no-go 😉

    • Elise says

      OMG, thank you for saying that. I read a few interviews with the costume designer who swore up and down that everything was researched and accurate. Even a historical noob like me recognized a lack of historicsim in the picture stills.

      I wish that she could have been more honest about how a costume designer needs to tell a visual story, and said that she incorporated New Look fashion into Claire’s 18th-century wardrobe so that even the most lay-viewers would be able to recognize anachronism. That is a legitimate argument for tweaking clothing time periods, even if more seasoned people bristle.

      • Emily says

        That’s not really fair. While I find Terry Dresbach a tad arrogant, she’s admitted that she sometimes sacrifices historical accuracy for what will look good on camera. Dresbach and her team make many things in ways historical costumers would appreciate, including using only natural fibers and sewing everything worn by main characters by hand.

  2. I haven’t actually read this one or ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, but I still knew that women could want sex. (Being one might have had something to do with this.)
    As for your footnote on shaming someone for the consequences of being raped, this is why I loathe and despise ‘Tess of the D’Urbevilles’. Her oh-so-pure man once spent a wild weekend with a hooker, but still can’t forgive Tess for having been raped and bearing an illegitimate child. Now that I think about it, I can’t figure why he didn’t make it into my blog-post of People I’d Like to Smack Upside the Head. Maybe it’s time for a follow-up post…

    • But in Tess of the D’ubervilles Hardy is condemning the ‘hero’ and society for their hypocrisy. And the hero realises his error. The ending, with her sister and whats-his-face walking away, was about them walking into a better future, where what happened to Tess wouldn’t happen? So he’s awful (at least at first), but Hardy is specifically pointing that out.

      • Elise says

        Hardy certainly was criticizing much hypocrisy and cruelty in his novels. Still…that Tess marries Alec in the end…I found it problematic, even by Victorian standards.

        • She doesn’t marry Alec. She becomes his mistress and then kills him. Hardy was commenting on how society condoned mens having mistresses, even when they stalk them and starve them to force them into it, but not women doing what they had to to get out of the situation.

          • Elise says

            Oh. Right. Sorry–was thinking Catherine Cookson! Anyhow, thanks for the correction. (this thread’s comments are so interesting to read)

          • Lyn Swan says

            Reading literature carefully seems to be a problem for some. I think we need to focus a bit more on accurate historical context, and critical thinking skills. Comparing the Outlander/Cross Stitch with Hardy…not in the same realm.

          • Lyn Swan says

            Reading literature carefully seems to be a problem for some. I think we need to focus a bit more on accurate historical context, and critical thinking skills. Comparing the Outlander/Cross Stitch with Hardy…not in the same realm.

      • A good point. Still, it very much put me off the book. I find I greatly prefer Hardy’s poetry to his prose.

        • Yeah. I think the problem with Tess of the D’ubervilles is that a lot of us go into it thinking it will be like a Jane Austen book, or Jane Eyre – with a proper romantic hero, who may be flawed, but is ultimately a good person. But Angel is supposed to be an awful hypocrite until he (finally) repents, and Alec is properly despicable all the way through. You’re never supposed to like anyone but Tess and her sister.

          Outlander is totally different, in that we are supposed to swoon over Jamie, and that creeps me out!

  3. Meg says

    Did we read the same book?? Loved Crossstitch and the sequels. Xx

  4. Jen Brown says

    I’m a Discworld girl myself and admit I haven’t read the Outlander books. My best friend is crazy for them, and the show. We have very different tastes and I think I’ll trust your review on this. Life is too short to read nasty books. (My friend has many wonderful aspects, just not her choice in books). Cheers!

    • Discworlders unite! Discworld > Outlander (in every possibly way by a factor of about 1,000000 😉 ) I have friend who I think are fab who love the Cross Stitch books, so it can totally happen!

    • mom says

      Discworld fan, too!
      And I loathed the first book of the Bird Brain series (didn’t read any of the rest). The whole “I’m sorry I have to beat you because I’m responsible for you and I’m the guy and it would really look bad if I didn’t spank you.” was really beyond belief, as was the constant sexual harassment and abuse. Horrible stuff.

      And thank you for the info about Burns and the f-word, this has certainly been…educational.

      • Discworlders unite!

        Yep, it was certainly educational for me as a teenager. Especially since the Complete Works I found was also quite thoroughly annotated.

        • Zwaluw says

          Another Discworld fan creeping out of the woodwork. I was really creeped out by the beating scene, but I think I sort of let the book convince me? Reading your review makes it a lot easier to see how wrong it actually is.

          I guess if anything I can commend Gabaldon for suckering me into liking Jamie.

  5. Beky says

    I started reading ‘Cross Stitch’ but never finished it. I do watch the TV show and enjoy that very much. Currently watching Season 2. Regarding the rapes. I feel ‘SPOILER………… that the rape scenes for women and men have been handled really well, more in Season 2. You can see the characters are suffering from PTSD, (they didn’t have a word for it back then).
    Regarding the costumes, reading Terry’s explanations for different costumes and where her inspiration came from, answers a lot of questions. Overall I really like the TV Show ‘Outlander’ far better that all the reality TV that is shown. Oh Jamie in Outlander was based on Jamie Fraser in Dr Who.

    • I can’t comment on the TV show, because I’ve never watched it, have no interest in it, and this post isn’t really about it. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but some of my favourites are actually technically ‘reality’ TV. But sweet reality TV, like Grand Designs and Hunting Aotearoa and Attenborough.

  6. THANK YOU for calling it out! I didn’t get as far as you in the book – they started talking about, essentially, a tavern wench in a bodice, and I gave up – but I watched most of the first season of the TV show (as far as her getting captured with witch-lady) and it made me super uncomfortable. The show isn’t nearly as rape-y, but there is one beating and the vibe is still there, which is jarring against the widely-lauded feminine-perspective one-long-sex-scene episode. Anyways, glad I’m not the only one!

        • Elise says

          Highlanders? But then…there could be only one. It would be a lonely club.

    • I’m definitely an Inlander, being Czech. Which doesn’t work for Leimomi, in New Zealand or Hawaii…
      I never even tried reading the books (no idea if they were translated or are available or whatever), although I was initially intrigued (it IS such an interesting concept on the surface, before you learn such details like she’s already married) but, well, it’s nice knowing I’m not the only one not up to date on stuff just for the sake of keeping up to date.

      In the absence of up-to-date stuff: thank you very much, Leimomi, for the constant recommendations of Katherine Mansfield, after The Garden Party I think I’m going to like her writing. If anything by Lenka Reinerová might happen to be translated into English, that’s my recommendation in return.

      • Well, this is very weird for someone who was born & grew up less than a 15 minute walk from the sea, but in Hawaii you are either land people (hunters and farmers) or sea people (fishers), and my family was definitely land people, so I’m still kind of an inlander!

        I shall definitely try to find some Lenka Reinerová in English. I definitely trust your recommendation!

        • It seems her writing hasn’t been translated, which is a crying shame but not all that surprising. 😛

        • radio.czhttp://www.radio.cz/en/section/books/lenka-reinerova-a-writer-who-keeps-the-rich-tradition-of-prague-german-literature-alive

        • Sorry for the spam. 😛 This excerpt from the interview very much sums up why I love her: “I think probably I’m positive, I have a positive attitude towards life, and this means also that I am able, and I’m very happy about that, to take pleasure in very small things – I can also have pleasure from big things, but I am observing and looking at events and people, and I go with the tram somewhere in Prague, and I come home, and I am full of adventures. I saw many things and I liked things, or I found things funny, and I prefer to laugh than to weep.”

  7. This post comforts me. I feel – not bad, but just strange maybe – when I just really don’t get a big THING that SEEMS geared toward my interets. The new American Duchess “Outlander” designs for Simplicity came out recently and I was intrigued. I had never seen the show (had heard of it, but wasn’t interested based on the out-takes) and dcided to give it a go. I barely got through the first episode. I kept trying to force myself to watch the second episode, telling myself that somtimes shows need time to properly get going.

    I have a confession. I’ve never read (or seen) Harry Potter. Ok, I watched five minutes here and there. I had already read so so so so many books about magicians’ apprentices and magic schools, etc. that when HP came out, I had nothing left to give! And I still don’t. 😉 Love Terry Pratchett though!

    • There are a lot of things that seem geared towards my interest and everyone thinks I will like, but I don’t. I think people think we’re there for the costumes above all else, but the plot and characters are always just as important. I actually wrote about all the shows people think I must love that I totally don’t. This was pre-Outlander-the-TV-show, but that would definitely make the list. 😉 https://thedreamstress.com/2012/09/five-for-friday-television-shows-people-think-i-must-love-that-i-actually-loathe/

      Harry Potter started coming out when I was in high school, and going to the movies annually was a thing I did with my friends all through college, so it does have happy memories for me.

      They aren’t of interest to me, but good on American Duchess for her contract with Simplicity. We started blogging at the same time, and it’s awesome how well she’s done for herself.

    • Zach says

      As a super Harry Potter fan, I can’t help but say you’re missing out! The books deal with a TON of social issues, and there are SO many adult themes (not sex–social/psychological/etc.) throughout that makes re-reading them as an adult even better. It’s a seriously magical series. 🙂

  8. I have to agree with you. I haven’t read the book, but have been struggling with Season 1. It was the wife beating episode that really bothered me. It wasn’t so much that Jaime would feel entitled to ‘discipline’ his wife, as at least that’s accurate to the time period, it was more that the filming of that episode seemed to be trying to frame it as… funny(?) It just left a really bad taste in my mouth.

  9. Raquel fromJC says

    Well said! But I have to admit I liked the first book (I bought it), the second one was kind of meh (bought it too), the third one was terrible (this time I used my local library) and just to see how bad was the fourth I went again to the library but didn’t pass the first chapter. Mea culpa! By the way I don’t like the Simplicity patterns.

  10. Good for you for stopping where you did. I pressed on and finished the book, it got even worse, believe it or not, and I need a brain-scrubber to get rid of it. It’s good to know when to quit.

  11. Elise says

    Man oh man! That was hilarious! As an educator, I feel so queasy watching my students get sucked into fantasies of unhealthy relationships due to Twilight, Outlander, and 50 Shades of Grey. And I never found the stories or writing compelling enough to read in order to make up for the repulsive subjects. So when a student brings it up, I am the professor who stops the class and talks about consent, and asks the class to think of 5 better heroines and 5 less-rapey/controlling male characters in recompense.

    True 18th century literature is hilarious and bawdy! Tom Jones just about blew my world. Clarissa has a few unlikeable messages, but is well-done, and logical in context. Even Austen’s work breathed freedom compared to the more tightly-laced stuff that followed during the Victorian period.

  12. I’ve never read the Outlander books, and I see from your description that there would be no point in my doing so.

  13. Ahhhh, so THAT’s why I found the book so damn hard to get through. It was a slog, for sure. And I haven’t been able to go on to the next book in the series. I usually suspend any disbelief while reading, because I just like being told a good story where interesting/fun/thrilling stuff happens, but yeah, Outlander was problematic for all the reasons you describe. I felt like I should have liked it for a little while and just didn’t feel like putting much thought into why it left me rather cold. I haven’t watched any of the series, either; maybe I will give it a try at some point, maybe not. I really have no patience with stupid characters who can’t think or act logically and plots that lack logic.
    I tend to avoid reading or watching things that have a strangely vast mass appeal, considering their subject matter. I’m sure the Harry Potter books were good, and I’ve seen parts of the movies; not bad. But the fervor surrounding them, and the media coverage of how amazing they were and how they were getting kids reading and how right-wing crazies were indoctrinating their kids against reading about “warlocks” had me so puzzled. This was definitely not the first time anyone had ever written several books about magical things, or done it well. For crying out loud: Tolkien (although his imagery and mythology do tend to hit one over the head). So I refused to read them on principle.
    Now I know I’m not alone in not being all up in Outlander’s business.

    • It got very much out of hand with Harry Potter, that’s for sure; I normally tend to be wary on principle as well, so I’m very, very glad that I: a) got to read all of The Lord of the Rings long before the movies cama out; b) ditto for Narnia, c) happened to get into Harry Potter before it became equally big here in the Czech Republic, thanks to an art teacher who read it to us kids during the sessions. I still had to stop reading it for years before getting back into it, stopped reading the fifth book when it was new and have never managed to read it and have only read six of the seven books.
      But I feel compelled to point out that Tolkien’s brand of fantasy is pretty different from this, and limiting your litmus of originality to “magical things” is about as useful as limiting it to “two people in love”. 😉 It’s much more the way these things are used and handled; not that I can say if Rowling is particularly original there, but she’s at least definitely enjoyable, and re-readable.

  14. Wow, and you didn’t even get to the bad stuff! I’ve read literally every one of the books (my mother and all of her friends are obsessed). You hit every nail on the head, and Claire doesn’t get any brighter as an older person who ALSO goes back in time. (The best examples of that is she goes back, spends the night at Jaime’s pad at a cathouse, and then goes to grab breakfast in said cathouse while only wearing a shift and is SURPRISED someone thinks she’s a whore.)

    Oh, and in later books, they meet anybody who’s anybody if they were alive at that time. Because why not.

    I had more problems with the graphic torture scenes. The ones involving the gay homocidal rapist. Not fun. In fact, when someone tried to recommend Outlander as something that everyone should watch for light hearted good fun, that is the scene that I mentioned and said “REALLY? LIGHTHEARTED? Please think about this for 2 seconds.”

    Also, Cross Stitch? Is that the New Zealand name for them? I thought the first book was called Outlander…

  15. Amy B. says

    Thank you! I thought I was the only one who hated this book. It was awful. The main characters were repulsive, the plot was twisted and completely implausible (I read fantasy. I’m not talking about the time travel. It’s everything else that happened.) There was not one redeeming character in the whole dang novel. I couldn’t finish it either. I bought the four book set on Kindle when it was on sale for $3 and have never been more mad about wasting money.

  16. Cat says

    It’s funny you should only remember the male lead’s name because he shares it with Jaime McCrimmon — Gabaldson has explicitly said she was drawing from that character for ‘inspiration’, and ACCK’s last name comes from Jaime’s actor, Fraser Hines.

    I’ve had the Outlander books rec’d to me before, but reading up about the events of the plot just make it sound incredibly unpleasant to actually read.

  17. Gillian says

    I have had little interest in this book/show (never heard of it until my aunt, who is notoriously into bodice-rippers, started watching the show) but this has taken away the little interested I did have.

    I am excessively diverted by this version of Comin’ through the Rye, which is NOT the one I have heard before 😀

  18. PatW says

    Oh wow. So glad I never bothered to read it. I was suspicious that it might turn out to be one of those; thanks for confirming it. Never watched the show either; the pictures of the female costumes made me wince. Especially that wedding dress that looks like the bodice is three sizes too small. I know it’s fantasy, but puh-LEEZE!

    • To be fair, it was supposed to be a hastily borrowed dress that didn’t fit.

      • PatW says

        Oh, was THAT it!!! Sorry! They really nailed it, then! 🙂

  19. Stacey says

    The most hilarious part of this review for me has been that the release of Cross Stitch (as opposed to Outlander) is peppered with wildly baffling, unnecessary, and oft un-authorised changes that makes the heroine less interesting/intelligent, the consensual sex scenes less fun, and a whole host of other weirdness. The line-by-line comparisons that can be found online are an intriguing exercise in editorial license. Not that I think you would find the original text any more palatable, but you were definitely reading the very worst version of it.

    • Tracey Walker says

      That’s good to hear. I was a little shocked at how bad it sounded when I loved all of the books. I was thinking, “we must have read different books” Sounds like that may be true.

  20. Nathalie says

    Thanks, I remember reading the first book in high school and I can only remember some vague plot points from the beginning: this explains why I don’t remember anything else, I either stopped reading or blanked it out. I do however, remember returning it to the library and seeing how many more books there were and thinking they weren’t worth it – your review completely explains why that is my clearest memory of the series.

  21. I could HUG YOU.

    I read this whole series because my grandmother recommended them; I read the “Outlander” title. Now, it was embarrassing to be reading something involving sex along with my grandmother, but she thought I would enjoy the ‘history.’ And I did. But I was reading the books at a tender age and I do think it influenced me in very negative ways, including my attitude towards homosexuality – I really didn’t need MORE homophobia in the terrible atmosphere that was late-90’s small town Texas as it was!

    The author has also done some pretty questionable things online, like giving fan fiction writers a hard time for writing stories because apparently the fan-fic writers’ sex was just for lust and puerile reasons, while her pages-long scenes of rape were essential to the plot or something. Grrr. I’ve been pretty upset that this series has gotten made in to a TV show; I think it says something really concerning about our modern culture.

    • Elise says

      Super concerning! I’d take anything by her rather than anything by Terry Goodkind, however. That man hates women, and seems to enjoy hurting them while ensuring that the audience knows that once a woman is raped she’s…too damaged to be useful in mind and body.

      I always thought back to JK Rowling absolutely delighting in all the fanfic that her series spawned (along with the cosplay and sundry other fun). She felt honored that her work was the source of so many people’s creative output, and that it provided role models. I got the sense that she viewed her work as a springboard, rather than the binding agent of an emotionally-stunted clique.

  22. Tracey Walker says

    Diana Gabaldon has come out and said that the first book contains historical inaccuracies that were pointed out to her and that she changed in subsequent books in the series. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I completely disagree on so many levels. Claire is not empty headed. In fact, most of the problems that happen are because she can’t forget everything she knows. I don’t suppose any of us would function very well if we suddenly found ourselves back in the 18th century no matter how much we studied it. No one in Jamie’s family tries to rape Claire. They take her because she’s an English woman running around in her shift and Jaime is on the run from the law. They have her marry him so that they can trust she won’t turn him in. As far as being homophobic, Black Jack is not gay, he’s a sadist and uses his rape of Jamie as as form of power over him. There is a beloved character, Lord John Grey, who comes in later who IS gay and is not only one of the best friends and reasonable people in the series. He even has his own spin offs. As far as Claires dress as shift, the costume designer of the series handles it very well. The dress is a light weight wool with a belt. As she runs, she loses the belt. The men who found her wouldn’t have questioned it probably. Even if it looks different from what they expect, she is an “outlander” and they would probably write it off as her being English and how the heck do they know what fashionable people in other countries are wearing?

    • I beg to differ about the homophobia. There are two characters in the book who are explicitly stated as wanting to sleep with the same gender. One is a sadist, the other a pedophile. The link between being gay and being sexually abusive is made quite clear by the author, therefore, homophobia. She may have later changed her mind, and attempted to rectify it with a good gay character, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people will come away with from THIS book with the message that gays are inherently messed up and wrong. Ergo, homophobia. (and other commenters have weighed in that that is exactly how they read it and were influenced).

    • I loved it too and agree with you that Claire is very intelligent and used to a completely different way of society dealing with women; she’s just come from a war situation where she was able to take charge and deal with all sorts of horrors; to be told she’s just a woman and must do what the menfolk tell her would be really hard to take. In fact most of us in that situation would probably do the opposite of what we were told simply because we’re used to being independent women. Jamie does really well dealing with the culture shock that is Claire and he adapts because of his love for her.
      Black Jack is one of those characters you just have to hate, which means he was well written. His acts against Jamie, Claire and other people mentioned in the books don’t paint him as homophobic, they paint him as Tracey said as a sadist of the worst kind. I don’t think there is much in the books that is homophobic at all, Lord John Grey has to marry as it’s expected of his class, but although he is also in love with Jamie he never tries force to get what he’d love to have and in fact later turns it down as he knows that it would damage the person he loves.
      There is unfortunately a lot of rape in the books which is unfortunate, but at the same time how the characters deal with what happened to them and heal from it is a human side you don’t often see.
      Strangely I get just as much enjoyment from reading the Outlander series as I do from Terry Pratchett’s books, just in a different way. I don’t quite enjoy the tv series as much as I keep getting distracted from the differences to the books (Claire refused to wear stays in the first book, but in the series you see her getting into all the underlayers).
      I know a lot of people don’t enjoy the books, but just as many do and I’m glad there is the wide range of people out there to have this happen.

    • Elise says

      When you do a lot of gay rights, you learn which books are “good” books, and which ones are “bad” books, regarding depictions of queer individuals. Outlander is not considered a good book at all, due to the homophobia.

  23. Jennifer G says

    This post could not have come at a more ironic time for me, as I finished out watching Season 1 on StarzPlay with my eyes peeking thru my fingers. I did not (and will not) begin Season 2. Who wants to watch physical torture or graphic sexuality (most of which is rape), just to see pretty costumes??? Never mind the fact that there are actors willing to portray these atrocities not for the sake of historic documentary (aka: the present learns from the past) but for entertainment “value”… Pass. I’d rather fill my mind and heart with positive things.

  24. ,Hallelujah, I am not alone in my loath for the book. I couldn’t finish it either, so back to the library it went. I tried to watch the series since everyone and their mother’s uncle are raving about it…..raving lunatics….it’s just awful. I don’t get it, nope, nope, nope.
    I don’t think I hate it as much as you, but it isn’t making my top 1000 any time soon.

    I do disagree about twilight…to a point. My dot asked me to read it and I got totally sucked in.
    Will it ever be considered great lit? Nawwww, but I was entertained.

    • Oh, I definitely wouldn’t say Twilight was great lit! It’s rubbish as well, just in comparison, the characterisation is a lot better done, and the heroine is a lot more heroine-y! (and the very important words are ‘in comparison’ 😉 )

      • Theresa says

        Wow, you’re defending ‘Twilight’, the most disgusting of all recent books that young girls shouldn’t read?

        Edward tells Bella she can’t have friends.
        Edward tells Bella she has to act a certain way.
        Edward hovers OUTSIDE HER WINDOW WATCHING HER SLEEP. All the time.

        Young girls are told that this is ‘normal’ and ‘how a guy shows you he really loves you’. Talk about emotional abuse.

        Contrast that with Jamie, who is in awe of his wife’s profession; is 100% fine with her having friends (even dubious ones), as long as it makes her happy; encourages her to learn and to grow; finds her sexy at time, and jokes and laughs with her at others — like a real realtionship.

        Bella is a limp nothing. She is such a nothing that that’s why it was popular: because she has no personality of her own, the young girls who are (sadly) reading the book can mirror themselves onto her. Contrast that with Claire, who is feisty, temperamental, moody and stroppy. She has thoughts and emotions that change over time and get her in trouble at times while saving her at others. Readers don’t always agree with what she does, because she is a character separate from them with her own ideas and motivations.

        Twilight > Outlander

        • Theresa, based on your arguments, I think you mixed up your non-equation at the end. 🙂 (Or whatever that thing is called in English… I can’t even recall what it’s called in Czech. :P)

  25. Zach says

    Oh… Well I’m glad I never bothered reading the mess. Rape and abuse are not okay, EVER. I hate this. If this is what that book (and most likely the show as well) is like, it’s practically 50 Shades all over again. That book/movie tried to incorrectly disguise an extremely abusive relationship and rape under a BDSM theme, which obviously is also not okay. Honestly, that’s a rant I don’t feel like making right now, but still, this whole situation is crap.

    The fact that these books/shows/movies/etc. are so popular just kills me, but not as much as hearing all of the people (and, most depressingly, women and girls) say how great and healthy the relationships in them are. I die! It’s like the most WTF moment. Really, what’s the deal here? Do we need some kind of world-wide Feminist broadcast of fact-checking, troll-destroying, bias-identifying, perspective-giving (etc., etc.) that people are forced to watch to solve all of this nonsense? (yes)

  26. ceci says

    Interesting…..someone gave me this book telling me she KNEW I would love it…..I read a little bit, felt a confused/embarrassed that anyone would think that was my taste, threw the book away. Then discovered she wanted the darn thing back so her DAUGHTER could read it when she was older. I fessed up that I thought it was disgusting and threw it away, so sorry, and shared that I didn’t think it was suitable for anyone’s daughter. So I was in the doghouse.

    Ceci

  27. Theresa says

    FIE, I say, FIE!

    ‘Outlander’ is one of the books that I have read the most often in my life (maybe 4-5 times — this by someone who rarely ever re-reads). For a historical fiction/romance book, the writing is stellar. So many times I can’t manage books in those genres, or chick lit, because they are written so poorly. So for starters: good writing. That shouldn’t be downplayed.

    Character-wise, you’re off on a couple of points. Black Jack Randall is not gay. He’s a *sadist*. Diana Gabaldon has come on record pointing out that the two people he’s fixated with (Claire and Jamie) happen to be…opposite genders. One of each.

    While Claire’s decisions are annoying at times, she is displaced, in danger, and all she wants to do is get home. So she doesn’t listen every single time when Jamie says she should stay put — okay, well, that’s where the adventures and plot-moving-along parts happen.

    As for Claire having Stockholm Syndrome — nope. It’s a wartime romance between two people who have both gone through a lot. Look at it from Jamie’s point of view: he’s almost been murdered (by whom, he doesn’t know), has had to be rehabilitated in a foreign country, he’s back home but an outlaw, is hurt again. Into his life bounces a woman who doesn’t kowtow to men. Who can heal him each time he gets hurt. Who has opinions and knowledge. Who is older, taller than most, more experienced. It makes sense that 23-year-old Jamie would fall for her. On Claire’s side, she’s 27, there’s an incredibly hot, strapping, tall warrior who is hilarious (there’s so much humor and playing in the book that doesn’t make it into the television show). She’s away from her husband — whom she hasn’t been around with for years — and, well, yeah, she falls into bed with him. And then into love.

    What makes Jamie so perfect as a character is that he’s not perfect. He’s stubborn as all get-out. They fight. They keep secrets from one another. And that’s what makes it so engrossing.

    Everyone made a fuss about the spanking scene, which I didn’t even remember after multiple re-reads. It’s a small scene that should have no bearing on the enjoyment of the rest of the book, which is: well written, with a sexy heroine and hero, a great historical setting, and lots of wonderful, wonderful sex. Find me a book where there are multiple well-written and graphic sex scenes and I’ll be forever thankful; in the meantime, ‘Outlander’s all we’ve got.

    That said, don’t bother with her other books. They introduce too many other characters. Just stay with ‘Outlander’. Claire + Jamie forever!

  28. spectator.co.ukMaybe it’s one of those things where you’re either a Discworld fan or an Outlander fan, kind of like how people are coffee drinkers or tea drinkers. I was crazy for Discworld in ’98 too, but I’ve never read Cross Stitch or seen the TV show. It’s been recommended to me, but never seemed like something I’d enjoy. Now I know it’s something I wouldn’t enjoy. Thanks for reading it so I don’t have to, and posting a hilarious review!

    As for the F word, the earliest recorded occurrence of this word that I am aware of comes from 1279, when Chancery records show that a man named John le F***er of Tythinge applied for bail. So yes, ACCK (I love that nickname!) not knowing the F word is about as plausible as a modern Scotsman not knowing it.

    See this Spectator article for more fascinating early uses of the F word: http://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/09/the-remarkable-discovery-of-roger-fuckebythenavele/

  29. Can I say a very huge thankyou too? I tried reading it ages ago, and it was so bad I couldn’t finish it either. From memory I had such a big issue with it being the right thing for her husband to beat her into submission – and her agreeing!!! that I never remembered much of the rest of the book. But reading your post, I know what you’re talking about so I must have gotten as far as you, and thought similar things.

    THEN, I couldn’t quite get my head around how it became such a huge hit and had a series on it, so much so I had been wondering if it really was the same book I read ages ago.

    Yup, it is. *shudders*

    Thanks for ripping it apart. Like all those bodices.

    • You’re welcome! I also appreciate knowing I’m not the only one who read it and was baffled by the popularity and the TV show.

  30. Emma says

    I couldn’t stand it either. I didn’t like the TV series either. I didn’t read all of the first book or watch all of the first episode though. It seemed to me that the only personality trait the main character had was “feisty” and really, a woman can be strong without arguing with everyone for the sake of it or running headlong into danger for no reason.

    I don’t particularly like reading books with a lot of violence in them and few authors handle rape well. It takes particular sensitivity to do justice to the theme without being insensitive or melodramatic. Unfortunately, I don’t think this author came close.

    I’m glad there are others that don’t like it I was starting to feel as though I was the only one!

  31. To be honest I’m surprised I haven’t come across more reviews that say how absolutely full of rubbish Outlander is. (I’m trying to be polite here – please imagine the vitriol that I wish to inject into that statement).

    Two full episodes focused on rape and torture that would have caused an unbelievable uproar had Jamie been a female character, but apparently raping men is fine and even better as a season finale. The only single thing I can think of that makes that scenario of any use to the populace whatsoever is that it points out that rape often has a component of cajoling and ‘bargaining’ which is why so many victims feel responsible for their experience. It is absolutely disgusting that this is referred to as ‘making love’ in the show.

    Any person who believes in equality cannot watch this show and applaud, and I am beyond surprised that it hasn’t been shot down by feminists and lgbti communities everywhere. What’s more I am utterly at a loss to find that a friend of mine who has always been a strong advocate of both woman and lgbti rights loves this show.

    I have watched as much as I have of the show because I believe you should not shoot something down without any personal experience with it, and a little morbid fascination at why this show is being talked about in such a positive light everywhere. I am now disabused of the notion that ‘perhaps the book is better’ for which I am very grateful.

    The pacing of the series is all over the place, how on earth this could be compared to GOT is beyond me.

    I think just about any thing else I may have had to add has been already been covered by Leimomi and within the comments. Thanks to Leimomi for her entertaining insights and for allowing a little of my own (far less entertaining) rant to be included.

    • I can’t really comment on the show, because I haven’t watched it, but Maryanne wrote a post about how awful it is: http://sentfrommyiron.blogspot.co.nz/2015/12/outlandish-outlander.html

      The pacing of the book is all over the place too. I found it a really hard slog – it felt like the author felt the need to include every random thing she found in her research, whether or not it furthered the plot, so there is a little paragraph devoted to 18th c makeup (totally unnecessary) and then extended random scenes with characters who never show up again and whose appearance does not further the plot, but who had ‘interesting’ 18th c lives, so their whole backstory has to be described. (guy on the rock who can’t talk etc.)

  32. Buttercup says

    I read the first book and it was passable so I bought the second one and thought it was pretty weak. The third one I threw away. I hate not finishing a book but in this instance I couldn’t muster enough interest to care what happened anymore. Bravo to you though for coming out and saying exactly what you thought. I think that all too often we are scared to condemn anything that comes dancing down the Internet highway for fear of offending someone. Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is.

  33. Hayley says

    So the real question is, what is worse, Outlander, Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey?

    Personally I think it’s 50 Shades of Grey > Twilight > Outlander.

    Interested to hear what your take on Game of Thrones is….. 🙂

    • Haven’t read 50 Shades, and only saw one episode of Game of Thrones (and haven’t read any of the books), so I can’t really answer your question. Twilight didn’t inspire any episodes where I hurled it across the room, and Bella may be dumb, but in a way that I thought was totally realistic for a 16 year old girl, so I’d rank it above Outlander. It probably colours my perception of the two hugely in that I don’t know a single person who took Twilight seriously.

  34. Miss Goose says

    So I read the first four Outlander books (they came as a box set that was 50% off so I went for it), and I watched the first season of the show. (Obvious SPOILERS for those four books to follow.)

    To me, Claire/BB is much more infuriating in the show. Maybe because you’re not in her head and therefore don’t get that perspective, but how the show often changed her dialogue and had her say/not say things that she didn’t say/said in the books just totally threw me off even remotely liking her character in the show. She’s totally unreasonable and empty headed and all “I’m just going to do this because I’m from the future and I’m a strong independent war nurse! Oh hell I’ve said something stupid and/or made something awful happen, but I’m not going to admit my fault.” I read the book right before watching the season so there was a lot of screaming at the television, “Why is she saying/doing this?! This made more sense in the book!” And yeah, the series almost tried to make the wife-beating scene comical. It was weird and upsetting because it seemed like they were trying to make light of it. (Side note: they don’t have sex after he beats her in the book, actually, but he does admit to enjoying beating her a couple days later.)

    The sex-after-almost-raped-and-just-murdered-a-man, however, is absolutely horrifying and creepy and awful and I almost walked away from the book there. And the resulting “You should have protected me!” crap from Claire (seriously, you were just taught how to use a dagger and were an active fighter for once – own it).

    As for the homosexual characters.. yeah, not so good. Yes – Randall isn’t gay, true, he’s a sadist. He’ll go after either sex as long as the ability to torture them and get his rocks off that way is there. BUT, his super creepy obsession with Jaime is definitely the more pronounced character trait and suggests he leans towards that side. Lord John Grey is maybe a better homosexual character, sure, but he still has this awful, catty jealousy towards Claire, he adopts Jaime’s bastard son as his own (and that’s a little weird), and his sexuality just isn’t always painted in the best light either.

    I made it through the first two books and enjoyed them well enough despite the frequent “Really? REALLY? Aaargh!” moments. Once Brianna and Roger start getting into the books though.. I just couldn’t keep reading the series. If you thought Claire was dumb, Brianna just baffles the mind. Yes, let’s cross the Scottish countryside and tramp around an American sea port of the 18th century in PANTS! Because I’m an independent woman from the 60s/70s! Comfort and rebellion! Also, I’m going to keep my rape-baby!

    Not to mention that the entire major plotline of the 4th book is completely contrived and would never have happened if Roger had just mentioned his name and that he was also from the future. And if Jaime weren’t an idiot and a victim-blaming misogynist.

    I liked it much, much more than Twilight, but it’s still not worth continuing to read/watch.

    • Miss Goose says

      OH and I totally forgot to mention the depiction of the “Chinaman” with the foot fetish in the third book, and the constant referral to Native Americans as “savages” in the fourth book.

      Yeah.

  35. Kathryn says

    “I can definitely promise you it WILL be grumpy and rant-y, and possibly rather amusing, though (spoiler alert) the book is SO BAD, and so (more spoilers) rape-y that it really isn’t very amusing. More creepy, gross and horrifying.”

    Well, you sold me, your reader, quite the bills of goods there. And you delivered on every sinlge one of them. Glorious rant! I nodded along in agreement for nearly every word, and I’ve never actually read or watched any of this series. Now I know for certain I never need to. Thank you for your public service.

    • Kathryn says

      Funnily enough, as I read this rant, my Mr. is watching an ‘honest trailer’ about the George Clooney/Arnold Shwartznegger Batman movie, and the phrase ‘Artistically Bankrupt’ was used. Sounds like it applies here too.

  36. Paloverde says

    OH, THANK YOU, dear Dreamstress. Outlander is one of the most loathsome books I have ever tried to read—and no, I couldn’t finish it. Apart from all of the other issues you have elucidated, the writing is just terrible. It reads like a never ending piece of fan fiction with all of the worst tropes imaginable. I find it hard to believe the manuscript ever met an editor. The thing just goes on and on, and then when you can’t believe it can get any worse—voila! It does!

    • Yeah, I forgot to mention that part because I got worked up about everything else, but I agree 100%! The writing is abysmal. It just dragged and dragged and dragged… And the terrible clichés!

  37. Barb_in_GA says

    ^Stands and applauds.^

    Brava! I am so over these god-awful misogynistic blockbusters.

    (Adore your blog, BTW. This review was just icing on the already delicious cake.)

  38. Yikes. I’ve seen a few pictures from the show, and I think someone recommended it to me a while ago, but didn’t know much at all about it before reading this. Thank you for ensuring I never watch it or read the books!

    This reminds me a lot of how I feel about Gone With The Wind. (HOW are there so many people who love that movie and WHY is it such a famous classic??? It’s nothing but four hours of racist garbage and the male lead is a rapist and it’s all about horrible, whiny confederates and it completely ignores how horrible slavery was and UGH. Gahh, GAH! NO!)

  39. muriel says

    What is the title of the 1930s novel in Zimbabwe that you hated so much? Thanks

  40. Karen says

    Hmmm… Your post gave me a lot to think about. I loved, LOVED, the books when they came out, but they’ve kind of soured with me over the years, especially since Diana Gabaldon has been such a turd to the fan community. I can certainly see how you came to your conclusions about the objectionable parts, and you’re not wrong.

  41. it is incredible how many women who enjoy rape and objectionable behavior in fiction. Maybe they don t really see it as rape, but see it as a woman who wants to sleep with this guy but is afraid to admit it? But rape is painful!
    There is research on who enjoys fifty shades of grey the most, and many were women who lived in an abusive relationship. http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/reading-fifty-shades-linked-to-unhealthy-behaviors/
    I have just watched Buffy the Vampire slayer, and there are the same problems, especially with Spike the Vampire: He keeps coming on to her, she says no, but it is obvious that she is into him. This gives a terrible signal to young boys. He even stalks her. In the context of the series it kind of works, because it is so obvious why Buffy doesn t want to be with a murderer like Spike, yet she is depressed etc, but it would be great with some discussion about it. Later he gets a soul and supposedly changes, and they spend a night together without having sex (or at least they wake up with the same clothes), and this is mentioned as a “higher” form of their relationship. While the day they first had sex, they smash a whole house and end up in the basement, and this is seen as “Buffy falling for her instincts”. So the whole “Women enjoy sex” seems to be questionable.
    Apparently the woman who was the main writer for these episodes herself lived in an abusive relationship.
    Maybe some women interpret it as love, what other interpret as treating us like property?

    There are some books were women have sex without abuse, isn t it: Ayla from the clan of the cavebear, Fear of flying, … can t think of any now

    It seems the last years there are less sex in books and more on film. Very noticeable with Ayla the cavebear.- books, since the last book was written so many years after the first.

    A discworld girl through and through – captain Carrot and Mr Vimes are the kind of male heroes I go for!

  42. I forgot somethings about Outlander:
    I don t know that much about Scottish history, but I presume countryside in Scotland at the time had some similarities with Norway. In Norway people slept naked. Many places they did not have toilets. So to see someone naked was not a big deal.
    That Jamie was a virgin is absolutely possible, I guess, but that he doesn t know how it is done is unlikely. That he believes women doesn t like it is very unlikely.
    Although everything was more violent at the time, doesn t mean that every man hit his woman.
    And women had an important role in the economy, especially in the countryside, and as such would have much more power than it might look like, officially.

  43. Annabelle says

    THANK YOU. I don’t understand why so many people have jumped on the objectionable Outlander bandwagon. Horrible book I couldn’t finish (and as a librarian who has seriously finished *thousands* of books good and bad, that’s saying something), horrible tv show I also couldn’t finish, which you’re smart not to waste your time with. Wretched plot; wretched characters doing wretchedly stupid things.

    And tv-wise, horrible costuming….I will never ever ever change my mind on that because it could have been just the greatest opportunity for the main character to have beautifully accurate historical clothing in a much-ignored time period (my favorite, in fact)…..but it’s seriously a jumble of crap trotted out as “artistic license.” When a designer has a set historical date to work with, it’s NOT fantasy-time-gone-wild. You’re playing in a legitimate time frame and are not above respecting its limitations such as available fabric and constraints of seamstress’s/mantua makers’ styling abilities. A lot of blogger people are now suddenly drinking the Dresbach koolaid while I incredulously lose respect for them. Anyone can mash up a couple of clothing eras and think they’re a creative genius. Big whoop. Not impressed. From an interview…”We want to imagine that Claire goes into a dress salon in Paris in the 18th century and says, “Take this off! Move this! Why don’t we put the flowers down here like this?” She is a modern woman.”

    Puhlease. Claire can barely keep her own clothes from getting ripped off her or avoiding the latest catastrophe of her own poor choice-making. Like she’s going to have the fashion savvy to bully a ‘dress salon’ into magically producing fabrics that couldn’t possibly have existed, much less have taught the mantua-makers the future methods for tailoring her 1940s clothing. She’s not just the anti-feminist damsel in distress…she’s the block-headed ninny any level-headed hero would eventually toss off the white horse and say “fine! I’ll stop pulling you out of the ditches you keep climbing into.”

    • Hehe. I think we would be friends! I like your assessment!

      I can’t really comment on the costuming in the TV show, as I haven’t watched it and have ignored all the blog posts about it – too many blogs to read, and I’ve decided I don’t have to read things I’m not interested in if I won’t learn something truly improving and relevant. But it is true that Cl-Air Head shows no interest in clothes in the book, and is so dumb the only reason Jamie cold possibly like her is that she is equally dumb!

  44. I like the Outlander Starz series, but I refuse to read the books…a seemingly jumbled unfocused mess!

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