The Power of Escapist Literature

(I’ve kept this draft on my phone for a whole week, sorry about the delayed posting, but you’ll sort of understand why…)

Never mind all the books that I’ve finished ages ago and that I want to post about (some other day).

Never mind the 4-5 books that I am currently reading (at least officially) and that need to stay half-finished on my nightstand for even longer.

Never mind that I took a day off to go to the zoo and that the big boy confined us instead to the very hot flat with a box of Legos because he vomited in the street.(*)

Never mind, because I found a book that swept me off my feet and provided the escapism, the  entertainment and the adventure I needed (not to mention, the sexy bits). And believe me, that doesn’t happen every day. In fact, the fun I had and my eagerness to return to the book just highlighted by contrast the kind of slump I had been through before, a slump that I hadn’t really acknowledged.

OK, so now I bet you want to know what is this miracle book that can heal thwarted plans, heat wave and kids’ sickness all at once. Don’t go expecting highbrow literature or some unknown French author. No, this book is the perfect beach read that everybody has been raving about; I’m not even original. It’s the Outlander series (after only 2 days I’m 180 pages into book 1) by Diana Gabaldon. In case you’ve missed the marketing, the book (that was published in the early 1990s) has recently been made into a series that promises hot, young, partly uncovered men under the excuse of historical fiction.

The premise of the book is hard to take seriously: in the immediate postwar Scotland, an English former nurse and her husband, an Oxford don, are in holidays in Inverness to “reconnect” after years of separation due to the war. But the young woman ventures into a strange place in the woods and finds herself suddenly transported back in 1743, alone and defenseless. Her survival and her hope to return to contemporary times are soon linked to a gorgeous Scottish warrior she falls in love with (does adultery count when you’re time-traveling? Apparently, the debate is raging on the internet, in case you’ re running low on contentious issues).

Now in true French fashion, I should hesitate between an eye roll, a shrug or a “pfff…”: not deep enough, not literary enough. And yet it works! Yes, it’s often trash and sexy, but it’s well written and so very compelling. I don’t often read romances, but this one reads very very fast and it takes your mind off the sad news all over the world. With the Scottish people being the good guys and the English the bad guys, it almost reads like a post-Brexit revenge fantasy for the European female readers.

So now if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious Scottish business to return to.

(*) Between the time this post was drafted and published, the son feels better, the zoo has received our visit and I’m around page 400 now.

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4 thoughts on “The Power of Escapist Literature

  1. I love this post! These books are hugely popular at the library where I work but I have never felt a desire to try them. In light of your review I may have to reconsider! Escape reading is really necessary sometimes – especially in times like these where it all feels so insecure.

    • Yes, I first heard of them through Modern Mrs Darcy’s podcast. When I learnt they were like 600+ pages long, I thought I’d never give them that much attention, but…

  2. I came across Outlander in a free books box outside a public library over 20 years ago. My husband read it first and loved it and then made me read it and I loved it too. The first three books are great, after that in my opinion they start to go downhill until in the end I was not able to finish the series. Sorry for the downer. Do enjoy Outlander and the next couple after that. They are all kinds of exciting escapist fun

  3. Pingback: Smithereens’ 2016 Books | Smithereens

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