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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two Sides To Every Story: William of Orange vs James II

two sides to every story

I have a special little treat to share with you all today.  Author Piers Alexander has graciously written the guest post today as part of the Two Sides series I host here at The Maiden's Court!  I look forward to reading his take on the Two Sides of the story of William of Orange vs. James II.


William of Orange vs. James II


In 1688, William of Orange, ruler of Holland, overthrew King James II and became joint monarch of England with Queen Mary. This became known as the Glorious Revolution or “bloodless revolution” (ignoring the thousands of Irish and Scots who suffered in its aftermath), and is largely presented as an orderly return to Protestant rule after three years under a Catholic king.

In reality, it was a propaganda-led military coup in which the legal succession was overturned, England developed a centralized military structure, and Parliament regained some of its lost powers.

What’s less well known is the personal drama behind the Glorious Revolution. How did a daughter come to sanction her father’s removal as King, and why did a well-loved nephew and son-in-law conspire with his uncle’s enemies and invade? It’s a story that splits historians, many of whom seem subconsciously to empathize with either William or James (William is portrayed as both rational leader and devious plotter, and his uncle as both a blunderer and a decent man).

William of Orange: “Give me this little world and I will show you…”

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 16.06.44

Like many great leaders, William was born into adversity. His great-grandfather, William the Silent, had been assassinated by a Catholic fanatic in 1584. William’s father died a couple of days before he was born, and he lost his mother at the age of ten. An orphan with a weak system – asthma, headaches, fainting fits – his right to rule Holland was taken away at Cromwell’s behest when the House of Orange was “secluded” from the throne.

But William, with royal blood from across Europe flowing in his veins (German, French, Scots, Danish, English), clearly always had a sense of his own destiny. Royal historian Bryan Bevan tells an “amusing story” about this:

One of [William’s] teachers described the British Isles as “a little world in themselves”. William said, “I wish I had a little world like this.” “What would you do with it, Highness?” asked the teacher.
“Just give it to me,” rejoined William, “and I will show you.”

William spent most of his life fighting Louis XIV of France - an enmity that shaped him, and ultimately led to his invasion of England. A joint French-English attack in 1671-72 ended up with William as stadtholder (ruler) of Holland; but his uncle Charles II’s treachery in signing the secret Treaty of Dover with France alienated the young Dutch ruler.

Charles supported William’s accession to the throne, and forced his younger brother James to give his daughter Mary to the Dutchman. Mary, tall and accomplished - and passionately in love with the noblewoman Frances Apsley - took some time to accept the short, austere William. As a staunch Protestant, however, she felt an affinity with his faith, and shared his outrage at Louis’ brutality to Huguenots after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

Religion was a big factor in uniting William and Mary against her father. Charles II had once tried to strong-arm William into converting to Catholicism; and James tried the same thing with Mary in the 1680s. At the time, Mary was next in line for the throne, and both she and William were concerned to protect England’s official Protestantism, and she refused. But it’s questionable that they would ever have invaded without the birth of a certain baby…

James II: “A father that has always loved you so tenderly”

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 16.06.09

James, Duke of York, had a great deal in common with his nephew. Forced to flee England when his father King Charles I was executed, he spent many years in Holland; but became a respected leader in his wars against the Dutch. In the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665, he personally led the naval forces, risking his life, and was later responsible for capturing New Amsterdam.

But relations with his nephew, who at the time was barred from the Dutch throne anyway, were cordial. In January 1671, shortly before another Anglo-Dutch war, James and Charles welcomed William to England, giving him twenty horses, deer and expensive rare birds for his aviary.

James first became estranged from his son-in-law and daughter when they harbored the Duke of Monmouth, Charles II’s bastard son and their cousin. Monmouth refused to accept James as a Catholic monarch, and led a failed rebellion in 1685. William had tried to dissuade Monmouth from revolt, but also did not play straight with his uncle James. Later, he offered James the English and Scots regiments based in Holland to fight against Monmouth, but the trust had been broken. William and Mary were also shocked at the brutality with which James and “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys dealt with the rebels.

In 1687, Mary was still next in line for the throne, so as a presumed successor William sent ambassadors to speak to leading political players in England, including opponents of the King. William feared another republican outbreak – or claimed to – but no doubt aroused James’ suspicions. Mary herself became angered when her father, who was sending her sister Anne a generous allowance as Princess of Denmark, did not support her in the same way.

It all came to a head when James’ second wife gave birth to a baby boy, Prince James Francis. William and Mary both denied that the boy was in truth her son, and Mary sent an insultingly long obstetric questionnaire to her new mother-in-law, demanding proof. The King had even taken the shaming step of letting the birth be witnessed; but it was not enough. William was asked to invade by “the Immortal Seven” opponents of the King, and the whole country waited breathlessly for the Dutch fleet to land.

In one of the saddest episodes, James wrote to his daughter Mary, a month before the invasion:

Though I know you are a good wife, and ought to be so, yet for the same reason I must believe you will be still as good a daughter to a father that has always loved you so tenderly… You shall still find me kind to you, if you desire it.”

It was not enough. William and Mary had decided not to risk a Catholic dynasty, nor to accept that Mary had lost her own succession. Crucially, William needed England’s power to support Holland in his thirty year struggle with France. From his side, James had alienated the powerful men of the kingdom by forming a large standing army and issuing the Declaration of Indulgence towards Catholic and Dissenting worship.

Invasion was inevitable, and William landed in Brixham in early November, taking six weeks to progress towards the capital. In the words of Yolande van der Deijl:

William received support from nobles, officers and townsfolk. King James painfully observed how his officers joined Orange. When his most trusted officer John Churchill and his other daughter Anne left his side, James became desperate and paralyzed. It took him weeks to decide to follow his wife and son to France. He would never return.”

Out of this painful family drama, modern England was born.

For more information on William of Orange and his 1688 invasion, visit Yolande van der Deijl’s excellent site, www.orangeway.net.


What do you think?  Who rightfully belonged on the throne?  Do you back William or James? 

shot_1365597425229The Bitter Trade Front Cover

Piers Alexander is the author of The Bitter Trade, a historical novel set during the Glorious Revolution.  It has won the Pen Factor and a Global Ebook Award for modern historical fiction, and is a top 5 European historical fiction bestseller on Amazon.com.  You can read more about Piers and his book at his website, on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mailbox Monday #176


It's a delayed Mailbox Monday - and this feels like déjà vu - because I seriously feel like I wrote this exact post before... Let's see what I received...


All of these were received for review - 3 from Netgalley and 2 in physical paperback book:

  • A House Near Luccoli by DM Denton (received from author for review) - I have an interview with this author going up in a couple weeks and this book sounds interesting - it is about a musician whom I have never heard of before.
  • The Ripper's Wife by Brandy Purdy (received from author for HFVBT tour) - this one had a little trouble in getting to me, but I can't wait to read this one as I am fascinated by Jack the Ripper.  And the cover is beautiful.
  • The Brewer's Tale by Karen Brooks (received via Netgalley from the publisher) - a historical romance, which I usually am very selective about - but I like the different occupation laid out here.
  • Enchantress by Maggie Anton (received via Netgalley from the publisher) - I have an interview pending with this author as well - I think I'm most drawn to this one because of the sense of mysticism and religious subject matter that is so unknown to me.
  • The Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (received via Netgalley from the publisher) - alright, maybe not the best choice seeing as I haven't read book 1 and 2, but I have wanted to read a Follett for a long time, soooo I will figure out a way to get to this one.


So that's it for me, what did you get this week?


Mailbox Monday has returned to its home base blog. You can visit the site to see what everyone received this week!


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekend Cooking: Lobster Stock

Weekend Cooking

Hi everyone! It has been awhile without a weekend cooking post – but now that I am done with the wedding and moved into a new place I’m ready to get back to it. This post will be the first of a two part series, with the second part to follow next week.

One of the things that I love to do in the summer is go down to the shore and have some seafood from one of those pier-side shacks – hasn’t happened yet this summer. I’ve been dying to get in on one of those awesome New England clam bakes – maybe next year. So in an effort to at least get some seafood and the essence of the shoreline, I opened up my Mystic Seafood cookbook that I picked up at Mystic Seaport earlier this year. As it has been unseasonably cool here the last week or two I decided it would be totally acceptable to make a soup.

This part of the post is the stock portion for the recipe (which I didn’t make, I used a store-bought stock), and the follow up post will be the actual soup recipe.

And I’ll give you a hint…there is lobster involved!

mystic seafood

So before we jump into the recipe, I wanted to look at the history of lobster fishing in New England. You know how it is pretty difficult today to get a decent sized lobster? Not so back in the 1700’s! A 5 pound lobster was not uncommon and anything less was thrown back or used in fertilizer. Lobster wasn’t even a food that was eaten by those who considered themselves to have any money. It was a food that was eaten by the poor and served to prisoners because lobsters were extremely plentiful, and thus, cheap!!! Cod and mackerel were the preferred fish commodity for the wealthy. Once the mass immigration to the United States began, lobster, seen as cheap foods, were used to feed the immigrant population – and thus, the demand rose and all of a sudden there was an industry for lobster! As the number of lobsters pulled from the sea rose, there were less and less to go around, the price went up, and then it was no longer a cheap food for the immigrants, but a dish for the wealthy!

Lobster Stock
Makes 3 Cups

3 lobsters, 1 pound each, or 8 bodies and shells
½ cup butter
⅓ cup dark rum or brandy
½ cup chopped leeks
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup chopped carrots
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon fresh or dried herbs (tarragon, thyme, or chives)
3 cups lobster cooking liquid or 1 ½ cups water and 1 ½ cups chicken stock
⅓ cup tomato paste


1) If you are starting with live lobsters, boil them until just barely cooked through, 6-8 minutes. Drain, retain cooked liquid. Remove meat over a bowl, and retain both juice and meat. If you are starting with shells, pick any remaining meat out of the shells and set aside. Break or chop the shells into 1-2 inch pieces.
2) Melt the butter in a large stock pot. Take a handful of the shells and sauté them over low heat for 5 minutes, being sure not to burn the butter. Carefully add the rum or brandy and tipping the pan away from you slightly, touch a match to the liquid, flambé until the flame subsides.
3) Add the remaining shells, lobster bodies, leeks, celery, shallots, and carrots. Sauté the lobster butter until the vegetables are softened.
4) Add the white wine, the herbs, and the cooking liquid or the combination of water and chicken stock to cover, and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
5) Strain the lobster stock, discarding the vegetables and shells. Return the stock to the pot and whisk in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil, and reduce to about 3 cups.

lobster stock
Lobster stock in process. I didn't make this!
Photo credit:
Home Grown.org

Sooooo….I didn’t make my own stock for several reasons.

1) I didn’t want to buy 3 lobsters and deal with all the shells etc. because of the cost
2) I would likely set my house on fire trying to flambé the rum/brandy
3) I don’t have over an hour to make just the stock part of a recipe – I used canned seafood stock

However, this does sound like a good stock recipe. Stay tuned for part two where I make…lobster bisque!

Have you made your own stock?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Any post remotely related to cooking can participate.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Interview with Phil Pisani

Today I have the opportunity to welcome author Phil Pisani to The Maiden's Court!  His novel, Maggie's Wars was released in November 2013 and I had the opportunity to interview the author about his writing and the book. 

02_Maggie's Wars

From your bio, it sounds like you have always had a love of reading.  When did the love of reading turn into the desire to write?

I always admired the authors I read and marveled how they put together words to form sentences and sentences to paragraphs and ultimately into a wonderfully constructed story. I always yearned to be able to be creative like them. While studying in Italy, I began trying my hand at writing and it felt very natural and I loved it. So it was there the transformation took place - my third year in college. It was then my love of reading metamorphosed into writing.  

What was the writing process like for you? What was the most difficult part of the process? Did anything surprise you?

In the beginning I felt I was too long winded in words and couldn’t unlock my insides. It is very difficult to get within oneself and write viscerally and I think that is the challenge of any artist. Unless one writes truly or creates truly, everything becomes linear. I don’t know how it happened, it seemed more of a gradual process where I kept digging deeper to get there. Once there, the surprise came. My writing was clearer, shorter and seemed it had more strength and dimension.    

Of all the possible genres, why choose to write historical fiction?

Prior to Maggie’s Wars I wrote short stories and screenplays and was co-author of a non-fiction book, which caught the eye of a professor in an upstate New York college. He had a story to tell and wanted me to tell it but did not want his name revealed because of the sensitive matters. Since many of the events took place at the end of WWII and I wanted really to reveal these events, I felt weaving the events around fiction would be the best road to take.   

There are many, many novels set during World War II.  What would you say sets your novel apart from others within this time period?

Two things, first as mentioned earlier, the events that unfold in the story are true and really never have surfaced in any other novel or non-fiction book for that matter. In addition to this, the novel portrays a female war correspondent which is rare. Secondly, I crafted it using two different points of view, one from the female correspondent and the other from the male soldier. Collectively, I feel these two points would set it apart from other novels of that era. 

What is one interesting tidbit that didn’t make it into Maggie’s Wars that you would like to share with us?

Well, it’s not a tidbit. The publisher felt it too long so they made me cut it in two.  Eventually, Maggie goes on and reports in Korea and the beginning of Vietnam. So that will be in the sequel.

Do you have any future writing plans?  What topic or time period would you be interested in writing about?

As noted above I’m finishing up the sequel to Maggie’s Wars. I’m also doing a rewrite on my novel Sins of Liberty, about a Mexican migrant worker who finds out America isn’t what he thought it would be and struggles to return to Mexico while pursued by the authorities.


Phil Pisani grew up on the north side of the railroad tracks in an upstate New York blue-collar industrial town in a rough neighborhood filled with the most colorful characters in the world. Factory and tannery workers mingled with bar and restaurant owners, gamblers and gangsters, good people and bad people, brash rogues and weak loudmouths, all spawned by the early immigrant movement to America. Italians, Russians, Slovacks, Irish, and Germans formed a rough and tough section of town where few from the south side dared to venture. He learned to fight at a very young age, both in the ring and on the streets. Fights became badges of honor. He also was a voracious reader. His mother worked in the village’s library. After school, or fights or sandlot football games he would curl away into the adult reading section. Enjoying the polished blonde oak bookshelves, tables and chairs, he would choose a book from the stacks and delve into its smells and contents. Reading soothed him.

He studied history and humanities in Pisa, Italy, and Oswego State in New York and later earned a MA in Political Science from Binghamton University.

He worked as a labor investigator for NY and rose in the ranks through the years but never stopped writing or reading. He currently lives in Albany NY, with his wife Joanne.

For  more information please visit Phil Pisani’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


Book Blurb from Maggie's Wars:

"Combatting wars on two fronts – one of fame and the other love – Maggie Hogan never wavers as a rare woman reporter on the battlefields of World War II, the Nuremburg Trials and the beginnings of the cold war. But she makes the mistake of falling for an officer, complicating her ambitions. Learn of what one woman feels she must do in order to make it in a man’s world, no matter what. Maggie’s Wars is a story about the ultimate battle between love and prestige, and how you can’t win them both."

Maggie's Wars_Tour Banner _FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #MaggiesWarsBlogTour.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).



Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee


The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee
Unabridged, 12 hr. 39 min.
Audible Studios
Rosalyn Landor (Narrator)
April 4, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received audiobook for review with tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

“In Victorian London, there’s only so far an unmarried woman can go, and Betsey Dobson has relied on her wits and cunning to take herself as far as she can—to a position as a typewriter girl. But still, Betsey yearns for something more…so when she’s offered a position as the excursions manager at a seaside resort, she knows this is her chance for security, for independence, for an identity forged by her own work and not a man’s opinion. Underqualified for the job and on the wrong side of the aristocratic resort owner, Betsey struggles to prove herself and looks to the one person who can support her new venture: Mr. Jones, the ambitious Welshman building the resort’s pleasure fair. As she and Mr. Jones grow ever closer, Betsey begins to dream that she might finally have found her place in the world—but when her past returns to haunt her, she must fight for what she’s worked so hard…or risk losing everything.

This eloquent debut novel displays firm propriety barely restraining seething passion—a sizzling combination reminiscent of Downton Abbey.”

I am slightly ambivalent about this novel – there were some points in the novel that I really enjoyed it, and other times that frustrated me. It was and wasn’t what I expected. One of the things early on that frustrated me was the title. Betsey is only a “typewriter girl” for the first few pages of the novel. I expected that it would be a larger plot point, seeing as it is in the title. I have no problems with foul language in novels if it creates a deeper characterization or fits a situation – however, every time the f-word was used in this novel, it really made no sense at all, except to use it.

The characters were relatively well crafted. I found that I liked Mr. Jones’ story as it unfolded – I found that he was possibly the best written character and his dreams/desires/and hopes were well defined. I didn’t exactly love Betsey. She has a couple stellar moments, but the majority of the time I found her simply wishing and hoping for something better. I was ultimately (sort of) happy with the way the novel resolved itself, but I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen from the beginning.

I do love the cover though - the font used for the title is perfect for the title and the image is reminiscent of the feel of the novel.



The audiobook narration was relatively better than the story itself. Rosalyn Landor has narrated for some fantastic historical novels (including historical romance) and for some big name authors. I think that her narration did a lot to improve my appreciation of the novel. I think that if I were reading this in traditional book format, it would have taken me a lot longer to read it and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

This is Alison Atlee’s debut novel. You can visit Atlee’s website for additional information about the book.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

atlee tour

You can follow along with the rest of the tour by visiting the HFVBT site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #TypewriterGirlBlogTour

There is also a giveaway running tour-wide for some swag related to The Typewriter Girl.  The items include:

  • One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audio Book or Print)
  • Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
  • A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After t-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
  • A vintage style postcard “from” Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
  • A “dream wildly” ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email (by tour organizer).
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Interview with Deborah Hill

I have the opportunity today to welcome author Deborah Hill to The Maiden's Court.  Deborah has written a trilogy of books, based to some extent on the history of her husband's ancestors on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The series appeals to me because the setting is not typical for historical fiction and it is set close to home.  Read on to learn more about her writing and works.



Your novels are based on a memoir of one of your husband’s ancestors.  Can you tell us a little bit about how this memoir inspired you to write your novels?  What about Elijah Cobb's life called out to you for the novel treatment?

I’d known about Elijah since I first walked into the family home: his portrait, done in France while he was waiting to get his indemnity money in 1794, was hanging above the mantel. You couldn’t miss it, and when I asked about it, my future mother-in-law gave me a brief introduction, down-playing his accomplishments like a good Yankee does (or, at least, did). So I didn’t think much more about it until I was married and we had two children and were living in the same town for a while. The bi-centennial was approaching, and I’d always wanted to write a book. Historical novels were my favorite – an easy way to learn history – and here was a start, already written! Of course, I couldn’t quote it, or even narrate it, because that would be boring. But if I thought of Elijah as a real person, rather than an ancestor, I could breathe life into his memoir, and if I invented him a wife, I could breathe life into HIM. And so I did.

What has been the family reception?

Believe me, I never asked!

You re-released This is the House in 2011, after an initial printing in 1975, and the others in the series then followed.  What types of things did you revise for this second printing and what led to this revision?

I suppose most authors think about the things they could have done differently, once their work is irrevocably completed. I did; I thought about it for 10 years and actually began to revise all three novels in the series 20 years ago. I “tightened” the style up, deleted as many words as I could in order to render them a little less “florid,” and made sure my history was firmly in place (which I could do because of the internet.)

You lived in the New England area while writing your books – did this factor in to your research for the novels?  What sources, besides the memoirs, were valuable to your writing?

Yes, it did. We had two small children while I was writing This is the House,  which meant that Mother (me) needed to stay close to home. Fortunately everything I needed was at hand, besides the memoir, specifically the ancient church records (which were the town records in the early days.) I wanted to pick up the little things – like the bounty on muskrat ears or blackbirds – the mill disputes – the sale of pews in the newly built meeting house. And most of all, the library where I could read and reread books on American history and the research that had been done, up to then, on the home and habits and customs of early Americans. 

The Kingland Series follows the Merrick family from Revolutionary America up through modern times.  Why write a family epic?  As the memoir you had to originally work with was set in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, did you draw on any other family history for the later portion of the series or did you have some other sources?

Cape Cod, up until recently a remote outpost, reflected and responded to the developments of American history in microcosm, generally 50 years later than the events themselves. So it’s like a mirror, and provides a little space for the observer who can see where it’s all heading. An interesting perspective, to say the least!

My husband’s family was the perfect “vehicle” because they did things that reflected the Cape Cod microcosm without standing too far out from their contemporaries. Elijah did have a fascinating career, but he was just one of many early American mariners who did the same thing – though I don’t hear of anyone else meeting Robespierre! Kingsley’s prototype actually did start a coaching company in Australia, and while this is fairly unique, it happened far away so that when he returned home, he was just one of a number of early Victorians who were rising to great wealth. They were perfect “foils” that reflected their times. Though I invented Molly Deems, the fact was that the original Kingsley did marry his talented cousin (whom I’m sure I’ve distorted badly in order for her to reflect the constraints under which women labored in those times.)

And Augusta? And Alice? And Emily? Tim, Charles, and Steven? Bits and pieces of them are real, and most is fictional. I will discuss this in my blog, but not just yet, as The Heir wasn’t available until last March. It needs a little more time before dissection can take place.

Do you have any plans for further writing?  If so, what can you tell us?  If not, what are you doing in place of writing?

When you function as your own publicist and marketing director, a lot of your time gets absorbed. I’m loving this aspect of publishing, and am really glad I had a chance to do it, but it does limit the amount of time I have to write. I plan on blogging for a bit, which uses quite a lot of creative energy. If I do dream up another historical novel, I’ll probably post it there.


Deborah Hill entered the world of writing at age 11, producing “Peggy’s Troubles” for her sixth grade classmates. Majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, she found that although she could write and loved doing it, there was, as yet, nothing to say. She needed more experience in the “real world” and so moved on to marriage and a partnership with her husband that included building houses on Cape Cod. Their children, coming home from elementary school, brought much enthusiasm for the upcoming bi-centennial, and Hill became interested in both American history and the experiences of her husband’s ancester, a mariner whose memoir described the young nation’s struggles with France and England after the Revolution. Ahah! Now there was something to write about! Hill published This is the House in 1975, The House of Kingsley Merrick in 1978, and Kingsland a few years later. Now all three will be issued under the series title Kingsland, with the third volume renamed The Heir. With the help of both computer and internet, neither of which were available 35 years ago, all three have been edited and in some cases rewritten. The memoir has been edited, too, and is available wherever This is the House is sold. The House of Kingsley Merrick will be available summer 2013 and The Heir summer of 2014.

You can find Deborah on her blog.


Copyright © 2014 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Book 1 in the Outlander series
Unabridged, 33 hr. 8 min.
Recorded Books
Davina Porter (Narrator)
July 13, 2006

Genre: Historical Fiction; Time-Slip

Source: Downloaded the audiobook from Audible

“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”

I put off reading this book for quite some time. I had the print version on my shelf for a couple years and didn’t get any closer to reading it the more time went on. I had heard from so many people, whose reading tastes are similar to mine, that the book was amazing and I need to read it, but for some reason I never picked it up. The impetus to finally deciding to read the book, and on audiobook instead of print, was the excitement within the historical fiction community leading up to the show. I just HAD to read the book before watching the show!

I haven’t read a book this good in a little while! It has everything you could want in a novel – no wonder it is hard to classify in terms of genre! There are battle scenes, blood, and brutality. There are sensual love scenes and scintillating sexual tension. And historical nature of the period just oozing from every page. Elements of this novel could certainly appeal to both genders.

There were moments that made me cry. There were two moments where I wanted to put the book down and not pick it back up because I just didn’t want to know what happened next (although my curiosity quickly got the best of me)! There were brutal scenes of pain and despair that you could feel deep in your bones. Your emotions are wrenched every way throughout this novel. I loved and hated characters in this book at different times. That all of these emotions were possible in one book goes to show how real these characters and how true their stories felt.

The audiobook ended with a preview of book two and it was extremely hard for me not to immediately pick up book two to figure out how exactly we are where the book begins [alas I had other reading commitments first]. This will be a series that I will eagerly return to time and again.



In my relatively extensive audiobook listening experience I have only found 3 narrators who were truly perfect for their role and who I would come back and listen to again and again. Davina Porter is one of those narrators! She had the perfect voice for our Scottish and English characters; for me her accents were spot on. Her pacing was perfect – even if 33 hours is a long time to listen to one narrator! She put real emotion behind her narration and truly contributed to the feel of this book and bringing the characters to vivid life. I am thrilled to see that she is narrating all the novels in the Outlander series.

Author Diana Gabaldon also has written many other books in this series, including: Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, as well as many short stories and novellas. You can visit Gabaldon’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also watch the trailer below to get an idea of this book:

This video is a trailer for the STARZ TV show, but season 1 will be based on the first book in the series, Outlander.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


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