Outlander 1×09 – the infamous wife-beating episode

This has also been posted HERE.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse Wife Beating 2 Sonya Heaney

This is THE episode. The one book readers have known would be difficult to do. It’s the one I decided would help me determine if I wanted to continue with the show or not, because – to be honest – I thought up to here Outlander was getting consistently less-good, rather than better.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Jamie Sonya Heaney

To begin with a negative: the voiceover. It needs to go. It’s no different to a bad author who tells everything instead of showing it, and it’s especially bad in a situation where you’re already seeing the story play out in front of you.

Handing voiceover duties to Jamie instead of Claire is a huge departure from the first book, and while Sam Heughan is ten times the actor Caitriona Balfe is, his voiceovers add nothing at all to the show. Why would they when they’re totally unnecessary?

However, I did like to see a bit more Jamie, because he’s practically been a background character for much of the show so far. Talent wasted until now.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Start Scottish Scenery Sonya Heaney

My next thought about this episode was that they finally made the most of the Scottish countryside. Everyone has been praising Outlander for this from the beginning, but until this episode I didn’t think they had done Scotland justice. 1×09 fixed that. It was gorgeous.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Scottish Scenery Sonya Heaney

I thought they did a good job with the whole fort rescue thing, but Ron Moore is so obsessed with having Balfe’s breasts on display (or another woman’s if Claire’s not in the scene!) that it’s starting to really annoy me.

However, the whole scene looked as expensive and exciting as you’d expect from a movie.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Rescue Redcoats Sonya Heaney

After this, we hit the part of the book where author Diana Gabaldon had a field day with her misogynistic beliefs (her comments about feminists and women under forty make my blood boil!) and her pseudo-historical accuracy arguments. I found this comment on The New York Times review of the episode to explain my thoughts better than I could articulate them:

 Outlander 1x09 Historical Accuracy Diana Gabaldon Wife Beating Rape Domestic Abuse

However, the vast majority of people also lived fairly limited lives. They stayed in one place. They were born, they lived, they died, and they did it within small, local communities. Women were at risk from the men in their own family, not from every stray male in Scotland and half the British army. They did not go traipsing all over Europe encountering sexual peril from strange men at every turn. I enjoy Outlander, for the most part, but let’s be honest about the role of history here. Galbadon preserves those aspects of the 18th century that facilitate violence and disregards the rest (ie, all the bits where Claire wouldn’t have ever been in any of these situations to start with, because she would have been at home, by the fire). History isn’t a shield against criticism when it’s selective history…

The point is, Outlander is semi-historical fantasy and the author made choices – most of which maximize the potential for violence, particularly sexual violence. It wasn’t a necessity dictated by historical correctness, and it’s completely fair to question and critique those choices as a reader/viewer.

The show really changed the book’s scenes around a lot, which I’m sort of disappointed about. Because the whole Outlander franchise is continually lauded as a feminist’s dream, I’d have liked for more people to see this part of the story as Gabaldon insisted on telling it. There’s a lot about the story that has nothing feminist about it.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Sonya Heaney

For example, the show’s producers removed the part where Jamie shook Claire so hard she had bruises all over her arms. In the show, they have Claire slapping Jamie instead. I was horrified to see a lot of men commenting on this episode, saying what a ‘stupid bitch’ Claire was. The show is making Claire out to be annoying rather than an abuse victim.

In the book, there are some sex scenes with very dubious consent – which many say constitutes the rape of Claire. In the show, that’s all gone. Show Claire is practically a dominatrix!

What viewers should stop and remember is that the show badly screwed up the timeline so it is very condensed. In the space of twenty-four hours, Claire has been sexually assaulted by two different men, had to kill someone in self-defence, been abducted by Black Jack, physically assaulted, generally traumatised. And then her husband – and the other men – thinks she deserves to be physically punished for nearly getting raped twice.

 Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse 1 Sonya Heaney

All on the same freaking day!

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Domestic Abuse Wife Beating 2 Sonya Heaney - Copy

However, even with attempting to add a feminist bend to a misogynistic theme, they DID keep the wife-beating in. And it pissed me off that it was presented as the episode’s comedic relief, complete with clichéd Scottish music blasting through the entire scene. Even with them leaving in Jamie’s line about enjoying beating her with a leather sword belt, it was clearly supposed to be funny.

This is the best reaction to this sexist scene I have read:

The theater went fucking wild when they realized what this scene was—apparently it’s a fan favorite from the books. I of course had no idea what was coming. I listened to the disturbingly upbeat musical score underlying the scene and assumed Jamie was intentionally riling up Claire to protest loudly, so as to make the men downstairs think he had beaten her when he actually hadn’t.

Jamie eventually corners his new bride, rails on her ass with his leather belt, and grins his head off as she screams and writhes in pain. “I said I was going to punish you, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to enjoy it,” he says.

…It was a fascinating moment of cognitive dissonance: we both knew the show had crossed a line, but no one else seemed to. Violence against women in the media is disappointing but never surprising. A theater full of women delighted by violence against women is the height of disturbing.

The way this was dealt with in the show, it made the beating seem even less necessary than it did in the book.

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Snow Sonya Heaney

Following this they really departed from the book and things got turned around. The episode segues into a lot of scenes involving Scottish politics, which I’m just not in it for. I know some people are happy for a break from the Claire and Jamie soap opera, but I’m seriously not at all interested in the secondary characters!

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Laoghaire and Jamie 1 Sonya Heaney

They’ve (probably wisely, because this is a bit of a loose end in the book) done a bit more with the Jamie/Laoghaire relationship, but I’m not sure I like what it does to his connection with his wife!

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Laoghaire and Jamie 2 Sonya Heaney

Now, we have a mega sex scene at the end. Done well, but I NEVER need to see the lead actor sucking on the breasts of the lead actress. This is not porn!! Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Outlander 1x09 The Reckoning Claire and Jamie Sex Sonya Heaney

The tamest screenshot you’ll find!

Will I keep watching? I’ll finish the season. Some things were better than I expected, but I just don’t know if I plan to invest in this any further. It’s a gorgeous-looking show, but I never much cared for the books beyond the first one, either. The level of sexual sadism Gabaldon revels in is unnecessary and upsets me.

Kiss the Earl by Gina Lamm

 Kiss the Earl by Gina Lamm

A modern girl’s guide to seducing Mr Darcy

When Ella Briley asked her lucky-in-love friends to set her up for an office party, she was expecting a blind date. Instead, she’s pulled through a magic mirror and into the past…straight into the arms of her very own Mr. Darcy.

Patrick Meadowfair, earl of Fairhaven, is too noble for his own good. To save a female friend from what is sure to be a loveless marriage, he’s agreed to whisk her off to wed the man she truly wants. But all goes awry when Patrick mistakes Ella for the would-be bride and kidnaps her instead.

Centuries away from everything she knows, Ella’s finally found a man who heats her blood and leaves her breathless. Too bad he’s such a perfect gentleman. Yet the reluctant rake may just find this modern girl far too tempting for even the noblest of men to resist…

Kiss the Earl by Gina Lamm

While my preference when it comes to historical fiction is for much more serious books, there was something about the cover of this book that reminded me so much of Lost in Austen I just had to request to read it.

 Lost in Austen Episode Three Darcy recreates the water scene for Amanda Sonya Heaney adjusted

Kiss the Earl was a much better book than I was expecting. Not really the kind of book I like, but I can see that many people would enjoy it. It was steeped in much more in history than I expected, which was a nice surprise.

This is the third book in a series, and I think that if I’d read the earlier books I’d have been given a better explanation of how the time travel worked and why it didn’t surprise any of the characters. As it was starting here, I just accepted that I’d missed that information and went with it (though it might have been nice to have a tiny explanation!).

Our heroine did annoy me a little bit. I’ve lived and worked in a number of countries, in British, Australian and American-speaking societies. You moderate the way you speak depending who you’re talking to. I was annoyed that Ella never even tried! In reality, nobody would have been able to understand a word she said!

I figure anybody who picks this one up is reading this for fun. You’re not going to expect anything perfectly accurate. I did like that there was quite a bit of action and adventure.

If you like your historical romance light and fun this is for you, even if it isn’t as much for me.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Not Quite Darcy by Terri Meeker

Not Quite Darcy by Terri Meeker

How to woo a gentleman—and weaponise dessert.

Romance novel junkie Eliza Pepper always thought she was born too late, but now shereally is stuck in the wrong time. Tasked with mending a tear in the timeline, she’s tryingdesperately to fit into 1873 London. But dang it, mucking out a fireplace while looking likethe lunch lady from hell is hard.If she can just keep from setting the floor on fire and somehow resist her growingattraction to the master of the house, she’ll be fine. All she has to do is repeat her mantra:“He’s nothing like Darcy. He’s nothing like Darcy.”William Brown has always taken pride in his mastery of English decorum, but his newmaid is a complete disaster, has thrown his household into chaos…and he finds her utterlycaptivating.Though he’s willing to endure extreme physical discomfort to keep their relationshipin proper perspective, her arrival has brought out a side of him he never knew existed.And Eliza has an innocently erotic knack for coaxing that decidedly ungentlemanly facet ofhimself out to play…

Not Quite Darcy by Terri Meeker

I admit I didn’t have the highest hopes for this book. An American woman time-travelling to 1870s London was a pretty silly premise. However, Not Quite Darcy features one of my favourite character types: the awkward, shy hero, and so I enjoyed the story more than I expected!

I take it the “Mr Darcy” aspect of has more to do with selling the book to a particular crowd than the book itself. I was annoyed at the start when the heroine of the story announced she knew about Victorian England because she reads Jane Austen – Austen is NOT from the Victorian era; she died twenty years before the Victorian era even began!

I did become frustrated with just how stupid Eliza was at times. She was swearing constantly, messing up etiquette anybody could have figured out for themselves (when you’re a servant, you don’t let yourself into the master’s library and settle in to read his books!). It was annoying because someone who claimed to have read many, many books set in the nineteenth century wouldn’t have made such silly mistakes. It was also a bit ridiculous how easy it was to convince her to travel to the past!

However, I did like a lot of the characters, and even as crazy as the premise was, I did enjoy the book. I liked the idea of a woman going back and hoping for an alpha-type romance hero and instead finding someone much kinder, much less expected.

I also thought a pretty good job was done showing us day to day life in the 1870s. For a “fluff” book I thought that was a nice surprise.

Not Quite Darcy is one for the historical romance fans. A light break from the more serious books.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 11th – 17th August

At least 594 soldiers killed in Russia’s war against Ukraine

A few of the 600 or so Ukrainian soldiers who have already been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Not much to say this week. Spring seems to be trying to start, which is always nice (apart from the hay fever!).

I read a few historical books and tried a new suspense author.

My review of Dark Wolf Returning by Rhyannon Byrd

Dark Wolf Returning by Rhyannon Byrd

My review of Outlander (Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander Cross Stich by Diana Gabaldon TV Tie-In

My review of Letters At Christmas by Amber Lin

Letters At Christmas (Men Of Fortune, #1) by Amber Lin

My review of Beyond The Moon by Michele Hauf

Beyond The Moon by Michele Hauf

My review of How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries

How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries

Outlander Trailers and Photographs

Yes, I’m excited about the Outlander miniseries. No, I’m not looking forward to the scene where Jamie beats Claire.

Yes, I think the Hollywood version of sexy red-haired man is far too brunette to count. No, I don’t mind that the actress is about twice as tall as the character – because I think her looks are perfect for the role.

No, I don’t think the trailer(s) is(are) very good. Why? Because it’s gorgeous, however it will get book fans excited, but there’s not much here to explain to newbies what in the world this show is about. But, yes, the production values look fantastic.

kilt Outlander Miniseries Jamie

outlander-television-miniseries-still-claire-and-jamie

Alternate ending:

The Troll Bridge by Patti O’Shea

The Troll Bridge by Patti O'Shea

Lia Stanton has always played life safe, but when an incident at a particle accelerator sends her through a wormhole, she goes from Earth 2010 to Jarved Nine 2050. Almost everything is unfamiliar, and when she’s accused of being a spy, nothing is safe—least of all the soldier sent to guard her.

Troll Maglaya is on his third tour of duty on Jarved Nine. He thought there were no more surprises here for him, but that was before he met Lia. He’d never given much thought to time travel, but now he needs to convince this woman to give 2050—and him—a chance.

The Troll Bridge by Patti O’Shea

This story appeared in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance and was a real standout for me, but you can also buy  it as a separate ebook. It is short, but sweet.

Time travel isn’t a genre I’ve read much of. Either the author has to go into massive detail to make us believe in a trip hundreds of years into the past (Outlander, for example), or else they have to make the period of time travelled shorter so that the story can be believable. I suppose you could say The Troll Bridge fits into the second category.

There’s a lovely little twist in this one, which lends credibility to the fast romance (it has to be fast, considering the story’s length). I always love when a time travel author can find a way to link the characters from different eras, giving them a solid reason to change their lives forever.

There’re a few really good entries that make buying The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance worthwhile, but even if the anthology doesn’t interest you, on its own The Troll Bridge is a good bet for a quick read.