Library patrons who are placing holds on popular, checked-out titles tend to comment, “I’ll bet this comes in either when I don’t have time to read it, or when all my other requests do.” And we both laugh, recognizing this to be prophecy, pure and simple.
When my reserved copy of Diana Gabaldon’s seventh Voyager title (An Echo in the Bone) materialized on the Holds shelf, the timing couldn’t have been worse: Thanksgiving houseguests due in a few days, pies to be baked, meals to be planned and shopped for, house to be tidied, another hefty book to be read for December discussion. Add to this the weekly forty hours working at the library, which, I have to say, really cuts into my free time. Can you relate?
Why not pass on this copy and re-reserve it for later? For one thing, it would just arrive the week before Christmas and the next round of visitors and pies, but the real reason is that Gabaldon’s Voyager series is most enjoyable when viewed as a challenge. 832 pages? Bring it on. Complex plot featuring the convoluted genealogy of a Scottish clan, some of whom time-shift back and forth in a 300-year time span? Yes, thanks!
Before Voyager, time travel was on my “don’t bother” list, along with impossibly hunky romance protagonists and their impossibly spunky love interests. Still, I picked up Dragonfly in Amber years ago when the Scottish clan element and raves of Gabaldon enthusiasts aroused my curiosity. Now I’m a convert. Yes, Jamie Fraser is amazingly handsome and endearing. He and Claire, the love of his life, achieve more clever and resourceful deeds than is humanly possible, but I’m OK with that. Observing historical events (in Echo, the Battle of Saratoga) as experienced by Frasers is oh-so-entertaining. Gabaldon’s inclusion of medical lore and pioneer craft details is adept; at times, the text almost reads like a mashup of adventure, romance, and the Foxfire books–in a good way.
So, if Claire can brew her own penicillin on a windowsill and captivate men with hair that hasn’t been washed in weeks, I could work in an 800-page novel in an overscheduled week. I did and don’t regret it; sleep is overrated. But, speaking of decisions, I am not stocking my guest room with any Gabaldon books. I pick up nice hardback copies of popular fiction at the library book sale and stash them away for houseguests. Anyone who starts a novel and hasn’t finished by departure time may keep it. Should my visitors get their hands on an installment of Voyager, they’ll never come downstairs.