Despite all the romance that goes on in this book, it's really a historical fiction, the reader gets to explore 18th century Scotland, from the King Louis XV of France to the Jacobite Uprising of 1745 in which Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tries to reclaim the throne of Scotland and England. And not only that, we also get to know the lives of regular people as well, down to the workings of hospitals and medicine at that time. Which in itself is amazing, how without modern medicine Claire is healing people with plants and herbs. I felt like I was learning a lot. There are also a lot of twist and turns as we discover more ancestors and how many of the characters seem to connect with one another. But aside from all the history in this book, it still focuses on Claire and Jamie's love. We see them grow more and more toward each other in a realistic way. And it makes us feel like we're in this relationship too. Not just reading about it, but that is mostly through the massive amounts of research Gabaldon did for these books. And you will definitely not be disappointed with the humor, sometimes I would have to stop reading because I was laughing so much. She has found that special way of making the characters feel normal, and real. Like we're in the same room with everyone, you can clearly imagine what everyone is doing, wearing and the facial expressions they make. It really makes you fall in love with all the characters of this book. Jamie has a strong male role, he's the hunky Scot who protects Claire at every step, who is not afraid to die for what he believes in, and he will take unexpected risks for his own reasons. But don't think that Claire is a girly girl. She is a strong woman too. And stubborn just as much as Jamie. She is healing people left and right, which results in it's own problems. Yet they are so down to earth, you can't help but love them. So I'm recommending this book to everyone. Especially if you read the Outlander, it does not loos any of it's charm.
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," is the first sentence of the book, and this is really what the whole book is about, how each character strives for happiness because they feel unhappy. It examines the way people view their problems, families and how they strive to resolve their issues. The book is not necessarily all about Anna, it's about all the people she knows and the story is told from all of their perspectives. You get to know each character on a deep and personal level, their fears and their hopes come to life, and even though it's set in the 19th century Russia, we can relate to each character on some level. It's no wonder this book is said to be the best of the best. It's not a very easy read, as Tolstoy mixes romance with Russian politics and socioeconomic problems, but once I finished the book I understood why he did it. It's to make the reader more aware of all the issues that were going on at the time, everything influences our lives, even if it is politics, people are effected by all that is going on in their country. And the character Levin is deeply involved in farming so the socioeconomic issues are important to understand. The book really needs to be read to be appreciated, and I really wish I hadn't seen the movie after I finished reading this, it just ruined it for me. The book is so much better then all the movies made from it so far. I loved this book, too bad I knew the ending before I started it, but it still did the job, I read a few chapters a day, it was a bit difficult to wrap my head around all these characters and all their problems, with a lot of details and imagery. But the story is beautiful, it takes time to understand.
The story takes place in 1492 in Rome and is told from the point of view of Francesca, who in trying to avenge her fathers' murder does the unthinkable.
Cardinal Borgia, who is willing to put everything on the line in order to achieve becoming the Pope, hires her as his private poisoner. Her job is to protect him and his family from assassins while plotting to kill the current Pope. While she does this she also uncovers what her father was trying to achieve and who he was. Which brings her closer to his killer. Francesca is a brave young woman who will do anything in her power to protect the ones she loves, while not afraid to die for them if she must. I liked the idea of this book, but thought it was poorly written. The detail and the language of the time period just didn't seem to be that accurate. I understand that the Borgias were real and Francesca is the fictional character that the author invented, I still hoped it would be a little more believable. Francesca is such a fictional character that if she got killed in the book I really wouldn't care. Many times I said to myself "yea right, that would not happen in the 15th century". There are so many aspects that just don't make her real. I couldn't get into this book. I forced myself to get through the first few chapters and then it became a little easier but not by much. The story is told from her point of view, and the way it's written it feels like she is in the 15th century and now she's telling us what has happened. Like a campfire story. So you know she survives even though her life is at danger all the time. And then when she talks about the poison and how to prepare certain kinds she brakes off and explains that she can't say more or us (the reader) would know how to make such poison and she is protecting us. Well all I felt was the author didn't know much about poison and now we have to suffer. I felt like there was no action in this book, mostly because it was interrupted by Francesca talking. I feel there is too much talk and not a lot of action. The so called romance between Cesare Borgia and Francesca is merely a couple quickes. It lacked passion. There were also some spelling issues that just bug the hell out of me.