Vagabonde sent me a copy of Widow -- I'd been meaning to read it ever since I sat next to Mr. Hicks at a book signing years ago. It's the story of Carrie McGavock whose Tennessee plantation becomes a hospital and then a cemetery during the Civil War. Carrie, who had been numbed by the loss of her children, is returned to life in her care of the wounded, the dying, and the dead.
The book is based on historical characters and has been praised for its accuracy and attention to detail. The writing is beautiful and I found it quite enjoyable -- as well as useful since I'm writing abut the same period.
People have been telling me I must read the Outlander series for about the past ten years. So when the first seven books popped up on a Book Bub Blue Light Special for a paltry $1.99 for the bundle, what could I do but grab them? (Book Bub is a free service that emails you once a day with notices of free/cheap Kindle books that you might be interested in. Sometimes there are amazing deals.)
So, I started in. Probably everyone in the known world knows about this series -- Claire, a nurse in the WWII era, just edgily getting reacquainted with her husband now that the war is over and he is returned, is hurtled back to mid-1700s Scotland where through a series of misunderstandings she finds herself marrying the hunky Jamie. And later she returns to her own time (and husband) pregnant with Jamie's child. Twenty years later, she returns to the past -- and her true love. And then things really get busy, as they go to the American colonies (North Carolina, to be precise,) pretty much on the eve of the Revolution.
The books are quite long and chock-full full of incident. I sped through all seven, occasionally groaning at what appeared to be a case of jumping the shark. But then I reminded myself that I was reading a book about time travel, for goodness sake, and if I'd bought into that, surely I could allow Claire to manufacture penicillin and do all the other things that she does.
The books are great fun -- an odd mixture of historical/fantasy/romance (Jamie and Claire can hardly keep their hands off each other for half a day.) There are some really fascinating excursions into oddments of history and science that seem to be quite well researched. Seeing the past through the eyes of a modern woman -- who has some knowledge of what lies ahead -- is a continuing delight. And the story keeps unfolding as Gabaldon introduces and reintroduces characters that are personable and fully rounded -- I kept reading to find out what was happening with these new friends of mine.
Who knows, maybe I'll watch the TV series eventually.
And then there's THE MARTIAN -- another Book Bub bargain. I was enthralled by the ingenuity of the story and the ability of the author to hold my attention -- well, I did skip over some of the scientific explanations, not having enough knowledge of chemistry and physics to know if this made sense or not. I kept thinking that the book was a science wonk's delight.
For me, the whole pleasure of the book rested on the personality of the stranded astronaut -- funny, resourceful, pragmatic, wise-cracking -- it all came across quite clearly. A terrific read! (No, I haven't seen the movie.)