Literature and London Part 3: Odds and Ends and a Bit of Shakespeare

Alright, again, a lot of my LaL pictures don’t take place in London. But bear with me, because I do like the alliteration in the blog title!

All the same, I hadn’t planned a vacation around books for the most part, but I can’t help being transported to locations in fiction when I visited England. Some of the locations in London itself helped remind me how celebrated authors were. Some locations triggered a memory of a book or a detailed description of a setting in a rather enjoyable book. And some locations pretty much screamed scenes from literature I’d enjoyed in the past.

Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

When he had first arrived, he had found London huge, odd, fundamentally incomprehensible, with only the Tube map, that elegant multicolored topographical display of underground railway lines and stations, giving it any semblance of order. Gradually he realized that the Tube map was a handy fiction that made life easier but bore no resemblance to the reality of the shape of the city above. It was like belonging to a political party, he thought once, proudly, and then, having tried to explain the resemblance between the Tube map and politics, at a party, to a cluster of bewildered strangers, he had decided in the future to leave political comment to others. – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Honestly, I was pretty much experiencing the same thing Richard Mayhew experienced the first time he came to London and went to examine the Underground map. The London Tube didn’t take too long to navigate, and I must have gotten off the wrong stop maybe once on my seven days of having taken it on a daily basis. I could understand why it gets a bit confusing (nothing beats the simplicity of Rome’s underground lines), but I’ve had a bit of practice with city train stations.

All the same, every single time I entered the Tube, I had Neverwhere in the brain, heh.

They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, and everywhere. – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

There is a major Jane Austen presence in Bath, and the irony of it is, the writer herself was well-known for her dislike of Bath. It was a place best left to the elderly and the sick and the long host of husband-hunters. It was not a place Jane had wanted to move to and live in for a few years. And yet she did, and at least two of her books were set in Bath, while a number of others mention Bath occasionally.

I went to Bath for only a short period of time, and honestly, the time I spent there was not enough. It was a beautiful place, and I could have spent more than a day just exploring the area and walking the places that Jane frequented. Unfortunately, since it was a short stop on my tour (which included three other places), I had a measly hour to…well…soak in the sights.

There had been three alternatives, London, Bath, or another house in the country. All Anne’s wishes had been for the latter… She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her – and Bath was to be her home… – Persuasion by Jane Austen

And then of course I saw the Jane Austen Centre and was absolutely devastated that I couldn’t spend the day at the museum and the tea room! I settled with grabbing a few souvenirs, however, so my visit wasn’t completely in vain. On my next sojourn to London, I definitely plan to go back to Bath and stay there for a couple of days at least.

I could feel the hair rising on my forearms, as though with cold, and rubbed them uneasily. Two hundred years. From 1945 to 1743; yes, near enough. And women who traveled through the rocks. Was it always women? I wondered suddenly. – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Let’s be clear, Stonehenge isn’t Craigh na Dun. It’s nowhere near Craigh na Dun, which is located near Inverness, which is in Scotland. England is not Scotland. HOWEVER, as far as stone circles go, Stonehenge is one of the preserved landmarks littering the British and Irish isles. And unless I traveled to Scotland (which I will…eventually), this was as close as I was going to get to pulling a Claire and traveling to the 1740s.

Not that I’d want to be in England during the 1740s. Unless I was in Bath, lol!

I prayed all the way up that hill yesterday,” he said softly. “Not for you to stay; I didna think that would be right. I prayed I’d be strong enough to send ye away. – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

DON’T JUDGE ME. Of course I’d have to do my Outlander pose. The standing stones were calling to me, and I was so dressed for the part! Almost tempted to Photoshop Jamie Mackenzie Fraser onto this picture…

And okay, this one was actually in London. So I’m justified in posting Outlander things. Mostly things about the wonderful James Fraser. I’d go into his house, too.

Cobbled streets and no shops open past six o’clock, a communal life that seemed to revolve around church, and where you could often hear bird song and nothing else: Gaia felt as though she had fallen through a portal into a land lost in time. – The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I haven’t actually read The Casual Vacancy, but I walked into Lacock imagining it was the type of English village that Rowling had been describing in the book. It certainly has that feel of falling into a different time period. The village itself was very quiet when I visited. It was almost six o’clock, shops were closed except for the local pub, the place smelled of petrichor (because, yes, it did just rain), and besides my tour, no other visitor was around. On top of that, small booths with tills were assembled just outside of the stone houses, selling mint and meringue and other lovely things, and all we had to do was drop the money into the till!

And on a J.K. Rowling note: Can I just make note that I found Professor Slughorn’s house? Apparently Lacock was one of those little Harry Potter locations that Warner Bros. filmed at. Friggin’ awesome, that.

The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances. – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Anyway, back to London. Ran into monument to Agatha Christie and I pretty much smiled at the thought that this woman is still going to be celebrated decades from now. If there’s any expert on mystery stories, it’s definitely her.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. – As You Like It by William Shakespeare

The Globe Theatre! Though as I understand it, this was not the original one. With the amount of times the original Globe burned down or was destroyed, this Globe Theatre is a copy of where Shakespeare put on his plays. That said, I had visited the original location as well, though there isn’t much to take a picture of, the original Globe area is now just a plain ole’ lot with a sign about the Globe Theatre on it.

As for the present Globe, it certainly stuck out amidst all the modern buildings surrounding it. I would have loved to have watched a play while I was in London, but didn’t think that far ahead to book myself a ticket. A shame, but something I am looking to remedy next time I head over there.

The play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king. – Hamlet by William Shakespeare

And that was just a pretty damn cool mural of the Bard.

Welp. I think that pretty much sums up my travels through fiction! Now…if I could only budget in order to go traveling again next year…

For previous posts of Literature and London, check these links:
Literature and London Part 1: A Darker Shade of London Magic
Literature and London Part 2: Hogwarts and Harry Potter

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Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Honestly, I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much as I did if I hadn’t switched out the actual book for the audiobook version. And I’ll also admit that the Starz series made it even better, because Scottish brogue and visuals help when it comes to Jamie Fraser. I mean, um. Yeah.

So this review might ping-pong between the audiobook and the TV series, because I’d started watching the TV series soon after I was halfway through the audiobook.


OUTLANDER

by Diana Gabaldon
Dell Publishing, 1991
Historical fiction, romance, scifi/fantasy, audiobook
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies

outlanderThe year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Gifly Thoughts

I’ve seen a few polarizing thoughts about this book, and I had been familiar with the premise (that a WWII nurse travels back in time and meets the second love of her life in the Scottish Highlands). What I didn’t expect was that the romance–which I knew about–burned really slowly at the beginning. And the thing with that slow-burning romance was that it was mostly on Jamie’s side and largely unrequited. I mean, the only reason the OTP was even realized was because they were practically forced into a marriage contract in the guise of “protect Claire from that dirty nasty redcoat rapist.”

Yes, there was a lot of sex the minute Jamie and Claire finally did get together, and yes, there was the awful horrible rape that happened at the end of the book that made me go “WTF WTF OMFG I HATE THIS EFFWAD” for the rest of the book. (Honestly, Outlander wins for having the most hateful villain ever. I fucken hated Randall, and pretty much spoke out on this sentiment every few pages during the Sanctuary chapters. Also, seeing Jamie struggle made me cry. WHY WOULD THIS BOOK DO THAT.) That’s probably what turned a lot of people off the book, and admittedly, I may have been in agreement with that…

Buuuuut.

I can’t say that I disliked the book. On the contrary, I enjoyed it for what it was, a historical romance novel with weird timey wimey stuff going on. I kind of got a happier ending to the story, so all in all, I was relatively satisfied.

Aaaaaand.

What really helped me like this book was the portrayal of the lovely James Malcolm Alexander Mackenzie Fraser.

Je suis prest aussi, Jamie.

And the portrayal of Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp.

Dat coquettish smile, tho.

And Claire’s attempt to drink the entire wedding episode.

And the Scottish men playing brutal sports. In kilts. I mean, what.

This scene seriously just escalated quickly, lmao.

And all the swoonworthy Jamie quotes.

And smoldery Jamie looks.

And horses.

And the madness of Geillis Duncan.

And that opening song that gets stuck in my head every single time.

Okay, you know what, the TV series so far is pretty good. I was afraid it would go in the way of HBO’s Game of Thrones and that it’d just throw in gratuitous sex and nudity right, left, and center as part of some kind of “shock value”. (Don’t get me wrong, I like GoT. I was just not overly fond of the unnecessary sex scenes like that damn ten-minute season one Littlefinger monologue or however long it had gone.) Thankfully, it wasn’t like that, at least, not that I’ve seen so far (hell, I could be eating my words right now once I continue the first season).

And from what I saw, the TV series is quite faithful to the text. I mean, with Gabaldon herself listed as a consultant, that might be why, but it still pleasantly surprised me that the dialogue had remained largely similar (and in most cases, unaltered in essence) to what was being said in the pages.

So am I interested in reading more of the series? Definitely, though I may have to borrow the next installation as an audiobook.

4 out of 5 cookies!


outlander-geillis

So anyone else like Outlander? Either the book(s) or the TV show or both? Any favorite or swoonworthy or “omg why am I crying” parts for you?