Tomorrow is Steve's birthday -- he catches up to me for six months number-wise. But I'm still the boss.
So I don't really know what we'll be doing to celebrate other than bringing dinner in probably, watching Outlander (more on that later). He will sleep in massively, I'm sure. I got a major present for him this year; keep your fingers crossed that it will be acceptable.
No, my gift for him is AWESOME. But yes, that is always a concern with him. Sigh.
Okay, it won't be THAT bad.
A new release showed up today on my Kindle. Woot! THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR by Tracy Grant. This is 5th of 5 in series (if you don't count the short stories) featuring Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch, a diplomat and his wife in early 1800s. Here's a description:
Malcolm, a former diplomatic attaché and intelligence agent, is a rising Member of Parliament. Suzanne is fast becoming one of London’s most sought hostesses. But even their closest friends don’t know that the Rannoch’s marriage is still reeling from the revelation that Suzanne was a French spy when she met British agent Malcolm and that she married him to gather information on British plans. Malcolm and Suzanne are hoping for private time to repair their marriage. But their peace is shattered by a late night visit from a Bow Street runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been found murdered in the study of his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was standing over the dying duke. Malcolm and Suzanne are convinced the woman they trusted with their children is not a killer. To prove Laura’s innocence, they are drawn into an investigation that will test their wits and the fragile truce between them. But whether or not she murdered the Duke of Trenchard, Laura Dudley is certainly not what she seemed. Revelations about her identity cut dangerously close to Suzanne’s own past. Malcolm and Suzanne realize more is at stake than Laura’s life and liberty. The investigation into the Duke of Trenchard’s murder will either prove the resilience of their bond–or snap it in two.
Published 2015, it has 374 pages. It supposed to be a rainy weekend which will be just lovely for reading.
Tomorrow night's episode of Outlander is the most difficult one. Ever. Truly. Jamie's descent into darkness after being imprisoned, tortured and raped by Black Jack Randal. Reading it in the book is disturbing enough but to SEE it?
A visit from Black Jack causes Jamie to realize a fate exists that is worse than his death sentence.
Here's an explanation from Diana Gabaldon herself as to why this scene is included in the book:
There always is a reason why things happen or are necessary in a story, whether I know what those things are while I’m writing or not. So—returning to my reader’s question—what were the reasons for the terrible things that happened to Jamie in Wentworth Prison?
So Outlander is a high-stakes story—on an individual level—throughout. It’s a love story, sure, and it’s all about what people will do for the sake of love. Claire, for instance, chooses to abandon the life she knew (and was about to reclaim postwar), the safety of the twentieth century (and she of all people would value that safety, having come through such a war), and the husband she’d loved. She chooses hardship, danger, and emotional pain, in order to be with Jamie.
Okay. This has to be a credible threat. Ergo, we have to have seen (and heard about) the real damage Randall has done to Jamie thus far; we have to be in no doubt whatever that he’d do real damage to Claire. We can’t just say, “Oh, he’s such a nasty person, you wouldn’t believe . . .” We have to believe, and therefore appreciate, the enormity of what Jamie is doing when he trades what’s left of his life for Claire’s.
And because we do believe that, we share both Jamie’s despair and Claire’s desperation.
Throughout the book, we’ve seen that love has a real cost. Jamie and Claire have built a relationship through honest struggle, a relationship that’s worth what it’s cost them. This is the final challenge, and Jamie’s willing to pay what will apparently be the ultimate cost.
Why would I throw that away? To have him escape rape and torture (he—and we—know what’s coming) by the skin of his teeth would be to undercut his sacrifice, to make it of little moment. (It would be like someone turning up in Gethsemane and telling Christ, “Hey, buddy, you don’t really have to do this. Come with me, I got a secret way outta here. . . .”)
So love has a cost, and it’s a real one. But they do rescue each other, and Claire saves not only his life but also his soul. (Yes, it is redemption and resurrection, and, yes, there’s Christ imagery all through the story—it was my first book, okay?) His soul wouldn’t have been in danger had he not been really and truly nearly destroyed by his sacrifice.
I.e., had Claire shown up with reinforcements in the nick of time and saved him before he’d been put through such pain and suffering . . . well, then it would have been a nice, heartwarming story in which Hero and Heroine conquer evil and ride off into the sunset together. But it wouldn’t have half the power of a story in which Jamie and Claire truly conquer real evil and thus show what real love is. Real love has real costs—and they’re worth it.
I’ve always said all my books have a shape, and Outlander’s internal geometry consists of three slightly overlapping triangles. The apex of each triangle is one of the three emotional climaxes of the book: 1) when Claire makes her wrenching choice at the stones, 2) when she saves Jamie from Wentworth, and 3) when she saves his soul at the abbey. It would still be a good story if I’d had only One and Two—but, see above, the Rule of Three. A story that goes one, two, three, has a lot more impact than just a one–two punch.
And from what I hear, the show doesn't pull any punches on this either. Not only is it something that has never really been portrayed in this way on television before. But it is raw. It's detailed. It's horrifying and it is, at times, even hard to watch. The ugliest scene ever on TV.
Followed by the most beautiful scene ever on TV. Next episode. The finale.
Phew. Okayyyyy. Let's end on a happier note, shall we?
PK the Bookeemonster