Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A bookish obsession

“It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance…”

This is the first line in a book called Cross Stitch, by Diana Gabaldon, and from the moment I read it I was obsessed.

There is nothing as enticing as the siren song of a promising new book, waiting to be read. And there's nothing as frustrating as being unable to spend as much time as you would like on said new book because you have irrelevant small details to attend to ... like work, family and sleep.

I read Cross Stitch for the first time in September, when a colleague lent it to me. Yes, I know; I’m about 25 years behind the times, as this book was first published in the 1990s. But better late than never, right? I had heard a lot about this book, and it seemed to be one that inspired much devotion from its readers.
I bought second-hand copies of the first three books in the Cross Stitch series - there are, I think, about nine in all - and quickly found myself unable to read anything else. I just kept wanting to read Cross Stitch.
It tells the story of Claire, an English nurse who, in the summer of 1946, is on holiday in the Highlands of Scotland with her historian husband, Frank. On the festival of Beltane Claire wanders into an ancient stone circle, has a very odd experience there and eventually realises she’s been sucked back in time to the year 1743. Alone, friendless, unable to escape the Scots and suspected by the English, Claire is eventually forced to marry a young Scottish warrior, Jamie.
If you’ve read the book you’ll know what happens next, and if you haven’t … go read it to find out what happens next!
By early October I had to go cold turkey on Cross Stitch. I was on to the second book by this time, Dragonfly In Amber, which was just as compelling as the first book but with a sense of growing doom breathing from it. I began to dream about the story. Twice I woke myself and my husband up in the middle of the night by bursting into tears in my sleep. I didn’t want to go to work – I just wanted to read my book.
So I got my husband to hide the books from me. Yes, it was that bad.
What is it about these books that inspire such obsession? Well, they are extremely well-written. They’re rollicking good stories, with plenty of adventure and humour. They’re richly detailed, without being boring. They suck you into the world of 18th century Scotland; you can almost smell the mist, the cold, the dirt and sweat, the wool of the Highland kilts. It’s the wonderful characters that really get me, though: they’re so realistic and well-rounded that you quickly feel like you know them.
You can read more reviews of Cross Stitch here.
Starz has recently released a TV series of the book, called Outlander, which is worth watching. John and I have been watching it on Lightbox.
[Just to clarify: the book is called Cross Stitch in New Zealand, but is known as Outlander in other countries.]
Happy reading,
Anne-Marie x

No comments:

Post a Comment