Bookit Review: #22 Voyager

Title:  Voyager (Outlander #3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publication Date: October 2004 (Originally 1993
Genre:  Historical Romance/Science Fiction/Time Travel
My Final Grade:A

So far, Voyager is my favorite of the Outlander books.  This is for several reasons.  One, it has multiple point of views, even though Claire’s POV is still told in first person while everyone else is told in third person which can be a bit awkward at times.  It gives us a better sense of how Jamie views things, as well as Roger and Brianna who play major roles in this story, and even more so in the next book, Drums of Autumn.  It also varies away from some of the troublesome aspects of the first two books, although not completely.

Voyager begins in the 1960s with Brianna, Roger and Claire searching for the truth about Jamie.  They found out he survived Culloden, and follow the trail down to finding him as a printer under an alias.  As they search, we get to see the story from Jamie’s point of view of the missing years.   We also wrap up a few lingering questions from the first book, and get a few flashbacks to Claire’s life with Frank and Brianna over the last 20 years.

Brianna eventually convinces her mother to go back, and the bulk of the book is Claire’s adventures in the mid 1760s, including traveling from Edinburgh, to Lallybroch to eventually Jamaica and the American Colonies.  This book also explores several different types of relationships.  It brings back Lord John Grey, who was featured as a teenager in Dragonfly but now is a Major in the British Army. He is in love with Jamie (as it appears most of the characters are – another criticism I have of this series), but unlike the previous two homosexual characters isn’t portrayed as a horrible person.

I was slightly uncomfortable with the portrayal of Yi Tien Cho, in a related notion.  I couldn’t tell if it was the character himself or the fact that it was a portrayal of the first major minority character for the series (outside of Joe Abernathy who is barely seen).  However, from what I have found out, he is loosely based on a real person and perhaps some of that comes from that.  Still, I wasn’t sure if the portrayal was fair or not.

The relationships in this book that are explored are the several different types of family.  It explores the idea of adoption/step-parenting (Jamie & Claire with Fergus, Frank with Brianna,  Jamie with the McKimmie girls. Roger Wakefield & his great-Uncle, John Grey & Willie), Multigenerational (Jenny, Ian and the Murrys), separation (Jamie & Brianna as well as Jamie & Willie) amongst some.  It also takes into consideration the aftereffects on Claire’s relationships outside Jamie – like with Jenny and Geillis.

While this book is still full of misadventures, and Jamie & Claire are rarely in a moment of calm, it does seem to be happier (outside of Ian) and some issues are addressed instead of either of the main characters pushing it aside like has happened in previous books.  It also has a decrease in the amount of sexual violence that seemed to be prevalent in the previous two books.  There is one scene towards the end with Yi Tien Cho that was concerning in regards to sexual violence but in comparison to the other novels this book is quite an improvement.

My final grade is A.

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Women of History: Jeanette MacDonald

Author’s Note:  This was originally meant for two weeks ago but I had trouble writing it.  I’m still not very happy with the outcome, but it is complete.  I may revisit Jeanette in the future and rewrite this better.

In the United States, we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th.  This month’s theme is going to be American women of history.    While Canada also celebrates Canada Day in the month of July, I’ll be doing Canadian women of history another month.

Our first WHO is Jeanette MacDonald.  Jeanette MacDonald is an American Actress from the 1930s.  About a decade ago, my grandmother and I, who liked to watch old classic films together, started watching operettas, in particular the ones done by Jeanette and her frequent Co-star Nelson Eddy.  We collected movies, stills and other things relating to Jeanette and Nelson.

Jeannette Anna MacDonald was born on June 18th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The year of her birth is somewhat of a mystery as different records say different things.  According to a baptismal record, the year of her birth was in 1903.  However, later in life Jeanette would change her name (dropping an n), and her year of birth (Saying it was 1907).  Even her gravestone lists the 1907 date, and her widower, Gene Raymond, would continue to insist it was 1907.  However, several sources now list the 1903 date as accurate. Continue reading

Women of History: Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross

Perhaps one of the most fabled females of early American (ie United States) history is Betsy Ross.  Legend has her designing the American flag, consisting of a ring of stars representing the states as well as thirteen stripes representing the colonies that started the fight.  Debate over the actual designer remains, as its largely thought that Ms. Ross did not in fact design that flag.  Still, I thought it would be interesting to look into the life of the woman legend has claimed. Continue reading

Happy Independence Day! (US)

Happy Independence Day to my readers from the US.  Today is a post day, but as its a National Holiday and busy day for many of us celebrating, I decided to do another simple post, this time random facts about July 4th.

To my non-US readers, I swear this whole month won’t be a FREEEDOOOM month.  While the theme of the Women of History posts will be American, it will otherwise not be US centric like this.  Happy Republic Day to those in the Philippines, and a happy belated Canada Day to those in Canada.

So here we go, some interesting facts about Independance Day

  • – July 4th became a federal holiday in 1870, nearly a hundred years after the country was founded.  It became a paid federal holiday in 1938.
  • The vote on the Declaration of Independence took place on July 2, the publication took place on July 4th (with two signatures including John Hancock’s) and wasn’t completely signed till August of that year.  We also wouldn’t have ‘won our independence’  till 1783.  John Adams reportedly observed Independence Day on July 2nd and considered the 4th to be wrong.
  • Two of the men who worked on the Declaration – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – would become President.  They also would die on July 4, 1826, 50 years later, just hours apart.  James Monroe, another president, died on July 4, 1831.  Calvin Coolidge was born on Independence day in 1872, only a few short years before the centennial celebration.
  • The Philippines celebrates July 4th as their Republic Day because they were recognized as an independent Nation and no longer a US territory on July 4, 1946.
  • We did not have a written plan for our government till November 1777.  It would not be fully ratified until March 1, 1781.  The Articles of Confederation would be scrapped in favor of the US Constitution in 1787. So the government we are all familar with didn’t exist for 11 years after the Declaration of Independence.  The Constitution was effective just a few months before the US’ 12th birthday in 1789.
  • The first time the 50 state flag was displayed was July 4, 1960. Hawaii and Alaska had become states 10 months earlier, but they waited till the 4th to present the new flag.  It has been 58 years since there was a change made to the Flag.
  • The Freedom of Information Act was signed on July 4, 1966 by President Johnson.

Women of History: Anne Neville

For those of you who have read this blog for a while, or maybe have gone back in the archives, you might notice that I have an interest in Tudor and the adjacent time periods in English history.  My choice this week for Women of History reflects that.  We are featuring (belatedly) Anne Neville, Queen Consort of England in the late 1500s.

Like several women of this time, there isn’t as much to go on for them themselves.  Anne’s life was dominated by the actions of the men in her life, and unfortunately her story sometimes gets lost in theirs. Continue reading

Women of History: Alicia Dickerson Montemayor

We will start June with a belated Women of Mexican-American History.  Alicia Dickerson Montemayor was an American woman from Texas who was a civil rights activist, for both the rights of Latino Americans and women, an educator, and a social worker. Continue reading

Women of History: Rosario Castellanos

This week seems to have a theme of Mexican women who are in the arts born in the early 19th century.  Rosario Castellanos was a poet, activist and author who became associated with the “Generation of 1950”, a poet’s group that gained popularity following the end of WWII.

Rosario was born in Mexico City on May 25, 1925 to a family of ranchers in the state of Chiapas, so she grew up in Comitán. During the years before her birth, landowners in Mexico had a hold on the power structure.  Her family was of mixed heritage and had indigenous servants. She was an introverted child and found herself at odds with her family.  She didn’t care for the way the indigenous people were treated, and her relationship with her mother was estranged after she proved to favor her brother.

When she was 9 years old, President Lazaro Cardenas passed and enacted the 1934 Agrarian code which redistributed land from the wealthy elite and changed the social-political makeup of Mexico.  It also effected Rosario’s family, as much of their property was confiscated.  The country had spent much of its recent history with the power being in the hands of wealthy landowners, and the redistribution of land broke up that power hold.

When she was 15 she moved to Mexico City with her parents. Unfortunately, within a year, both her parents had died, leaving her and her siblings orphans.  She enrolled in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, studying literature and philosophy.  She also joined the National Indigenous Institute, developed by President Cardenas, to help promote literacy in impoverished sections of the country.  She also began writing for the newspaper Excélsior.

It was while she was at the school that she met Ricardo Guerra Tejada, a fellow academic and philosopher.  The two married in 1958. The two of them had one son, Gabriel, born in 1961.  Rosario suffered from depression and fertility issues and would have no more children. She and Ricardo divorced in 1971 after Ricardo’s infidelity came to light.

In 1960, she published Ciudad Real, a collection of short stories that focused on the differences between selected groups.  It dealt with both racial and gender related bias. She also became the press director for the University a year later. She also taught at the university and had visiting professorship in various universities across North America. In 1963, she wrote Oficio de tinieblas or in English as The Book of Lamentations in one translation and The Office of Darkness in another. The story recreates a native rebellion in a more modern time period.  The struggle of native people was an influence over much of her work.  She was inspired by also by two Catholic authors as well, including Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, who I profiled several weeks ago.

Rosario’s work was varied.  She was dedicated to improving literacy and women’s rights in Mexico.  She also served in several governmental positions, culminating in being assigned in 1971 to be Mexico’s ambassador to Israel in 1971.

Rosario died on August 7, 1974.  She was 49 years old, and her death was an electrical accident.  She left behind a body of work that showcased the idea of feminism in Mexico as well as better treatment for indigenous people.  She holds a high spot in Mexico for both her literary and governmental pursuits.  Two of her works were published after her death, as well.

Most of the sources of information about her that appear in English online appear to just repeat the same information. There are several sites and videos in Spanish that may include information but unfortunately my Spanish is not good enough to translate that quickly.  I’m also sure offline there is more information, if you are interested in learning more about Rosario and her works.  Amazon has several of her published works in Spanish.

Further Reading

Wikipedia:  Rosario Castellanos

Wikipedia:  Cardenista Land Reform 1934-1940

Encyclopedia Britannica: Rosario Castellanos

Rosario Castellanos was one of Mexico’s greatest Poets – Constance Grady (Vox.com)

Rosario Castellanos – Beth Miller (2012)

 

Master List