|Osprey in the Wild Blue - Woods Canyon Lake, AZ|
|Peach Tree Visitor - Sedona, AZ|
|Feisty Rufous - Sedona, AZ|
|Who Stole My Place? - Elephant Seals at Ragged Point, CA|
|Nap Time - Monterey, CA|
|Spiney Lizard - Sedona, AZ|
|Gambol Quail Says Hi! - Sedona, AZ|
I just got the newest historical novel by Diana Gabaldon, "Written in My Own Heart's Blood." It's the eighth book in her Outlander series weighing in at over 800 pages and so far, it is an intense pleasure to read. The series has everything: time-travel, romance, history, medicine, biology, and wonderful writing. She shares her extensive knowledge of the natural world in almost every sentence, and this knowledge gives each book a familiar flavor of the outdoors, opening doors into the interior worlds of Jacobite Scotland and colonial America.
One sentence in this new book seems to be the key for unlocking Gabaldon's fascination for me:
"I had my legs wrapped round him - I could feel the flutter of tiny insects on my ankles and bare feet as they swarmed, avid for his unprotected bare flesh - and didn't mean to let him go." - Chapter 65, "Mosquitoes"
Of course her description of Claire's sex with her husband, Jaime, is fascinating but the fine details she uses to paint a picture of an exhausted couple sleeping outside by the river with all of its plants, animals and insects really captures the earthy essence of this series.
It is a glimpse into an exterior world. A world where human activities are outside of homes, factories, shops, and even when she describes urban living in the late 1700s, there are always descriptions of the efforts people must make that take them into the streets to communicate via messenger, ride on horse back or in carriages to neighbors and towns. There is strenuous effort in her books. People coping, day-to-day, with the "inconveniences" of unadulterated smells, finding food and shelter, physical injury, biting animals and insects - survival in a hostile world.
It does not surprise me that she was born in Flagstaff, Arizona - actually Williams! Her writing shines when she describes a pine forest or snow falling on a rocky bluff or a meadow full of wildflowers. Her educated and lively mind brings all of the color and freshness of Northern Arizona into her stories and those homey glimpses of reality infuse this fantasy series with a perspective both familiar and otherworldly.
Shouldn't be long before I finish this massive adventure story and then the long wait begins for her next installment!