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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Of Time Travel and Outlander Tags

Outlandertag

I found this particular tag floating around at Esther @ Chapter Adventures and thought, well, since I finished the first book and absolutely adored–and binge-watched the last few episodes of the Starz show (I mean those last few episodes of season 1 were BRUTAL), there was no way I’d avoid doing this tag. Even though I hadn’t been technically tagged (or, you know, do blanket tags count? I’d say so, lol!).

The only rule regarding this tag is that while it is an Outlander tag, one should not use Outlander as an answer to said questions. I suppose this shouldn’t be too bad…

The Questions

You touch some standing stones, and you get transported back in time. What year would you end up in?

Assuming that the standing stones are mostly a phenomenon within Europe, and I was limited to time travel and not spatial displacement, if this were up to me, I’d be somewhere in England during the 1920s. Suffragists, flapper dresses, booze, media frenzy, electrical innovation, and socialite parties quasi-Gatsby-style. Yes please!

And I’d get to wear those! Eeeeee!

But knowing my luck, I’d probably stumble onto a pair of standing stones while randomly vacationing in Norway and end up sent all the way back to the 1100s Viking Era, running from burly warriors and their need to pillage coastline villages…

Claire is a good nurse, but what type of skill would you want a fictional character to excel at?

Whatever the eff the woman wants to excel at. I always found sleight of hand and the talent for misdirection to be one of the best skills a fictional character can have. A hidden dagger pressed close to the thigh, a thin, sharp weapon used doubly as a hair ornament. A set of lockpicks and a long sash used as rope. Yeah. Master thief galore! I’ve watched too many heist movies clearly…

Jamie and Claire are the ultimate relationship goals. Who is your favourite fictional couple? 

Hah. This usually changes depending on my current favorite book. Jamie and Claire make a cute couple, but I’d say they’re far from my idea of relationship goals (though honestly, watching the TV series just makes me rethink my stance–Balfe and Heughan are just TOO ADORABLE FOR WORDS). I have too many OTPs this year to give a straight answer to this question, though as of writing this, my favorite fictional couples are Shazi and Khalid from Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn duology and Cinder and Kai from Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. Again, all likely to change with the ever-altering seasons and whatnot.

Because they ARE adorable.

The ending of Outlander was shocking. What is one book that you read that totally blew your mind?

I wasn’t really “shocked” by the end of Outlander. Honestly, it was the chapters prior to the end that rattled me a bit. Still, a person who often blows my mind with his stellar endings is Brandon Sanderson. Every ending in the Mistborn trilogy left my mouth hanging open, and this is similar in the case of Steelheart, where I was mostly wide-eyed at the revelations he wrote up at the end of the book. There’s really no excuse why I haven’t picked up Firefight yet…other than the fact that I’m still only halfway through Sanderson’s The Way of Kings.

Scotland has lots of castles and we see a few in Outlander. What fictional kingdom would you want to live in?

Tortall! Always and forever Tortall! Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books will always hold a special place in my little ole’ heart, and I’ve loved reading about the Tortallan world so much, with its Gifted kings and queens and abolished slavery laws. I’d preferably want to live in a Tortall post-Immortals but I’ll take whatever I can get, to be honest. Maria V. Snyder’s Sitia (and occasionally Ixia) from the Study series are a close second, though. In any case, I’d love to live in a world filled with magic.

Outlander has some very steamy scenes. What is your favourite romance novel?

The magical types. Honestly, I love the idea of romance, so if it’s there in a novel, I’m not going to shy away from it. That said, I prefer the idea of slow-burn romances more than anything else. Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier is definitely one of my favorites in that respect. Paula and Stoyan have undergone such a trial of trust and love that it’s just…swoon.

The Jacobite rebellion is a huge plot point in Outlander. What is one of your favourite battles from a book?

I wasn’t such a big fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, however there was a particular dragon battle scene at the end of the book that comes to mind, which I still remember vividly. Novik has a way with battle scenes, because she invoked the same kind of imagery in Uprooted, which I loved to bits. In Uprooted, there is a battle in the forest, the people against the Wood, an entity in and of itself. It was a pretty intense fight.

Now, if you’re looking for an epic battle amongst giants, I’m totally going to point you in the direction of Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. Or, for a more a fight of mecha-level epicness, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One has an awesome battle scene at the end of the book.

Jamie and Clarie get married very unexpectedly. What fictional characters would you like to marry on a whim?

Hah. I’d like to see Miss Fisher and D.I. Jack Robinson get hitched (from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries). But Phryne is too sensible and much too free-willed for that, and Jack’s clearly not going to push the issue, lest he lose the Phryne he fell in love with. So alas, I’m at an impasse in that relationship. All the same, it’d be fun to see them play husband and wife in some undercover case they’d be working together in. Cue fanfic goodness here! *starts her search*

UGH. JUST SNOG HER DAMMIT.

Scotland is a very beautiful place. What fictional world would you love to visit?

Egads. I’d love to go everywhere! I wouldn’t be able to choose just one particular world to visit, though if I had to choose, I’d go to a fantasy world over a scifi one. Preferably one with dragons. Preferably so I can be in a party where I can slay dragons. Alright, you got me. I’d totally go to Ferelden or Orlais in the Dragon Age series. Maybe before the Blights though. I’d love to see the elven wonders of Arlathan before its fall. And if the Arbor Wilds was any indication of how beautiful Thedas used to be, then hell yes, I’m sold.

If you could change the past, would you?

This poses an interesting question, because I always feel like traveling through time does change the past, whether or not the traveler has intended to do so. Do I want to change particular events in the past concerning me? Yes. Do I want to change particular events concerning important decisions in history? Maybe. Would I want to do it? Probably not. I wouldn’t risk changing possible fixed points. I’ve seen how disastrous that shmat is in Doctor Who.

But the question is moot if I’m willing to travel time even as an observer (which I am). For all anyone knows, an observer could innocently purchase wool at a nearby market without it doing much in the short run. Then all of a sudden, there’s a shortage of wool, nations are vying for said wool, and suddenly all of Greece is surging against Troy because they have said wool (and maybe because Troy stole a Spartan princess from her cuckolded husband…who knows). Or, I don’t know, the observer steps on an excellently-grown potato, and suddenly no more potatoes grow, and that observer has just inadvertently caused the Irish Potato Famine. BOOM. Butterfly effect. XD

Yeah, time travel is a messed up venture. I’d still do it, though…even if the risk is changing the past and screwing up the future. *coughs*

I’d just claim plausible deniability after.

And, like Esther, I’m totally tagging anyone who wants to do this tag. It was fun, and it actually made me think about my stance on time travel, lol!


Do you have a particular time period you’d like to go to as an observer?

How about fictional battles? What would you like to see?

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?