An Open Letter to Diana Gabaldon

by Chloe Jeffreys · 64 comments

in You're Kidding Me, Right?

(WARNING: This post contains Spoilers for Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series)

Dear Diana,

I admit it, you had me at Sassenach. You’ve given us one of the greatest romantic heroes in the history of all romantic heroes: Jamie Fraser. And for him I shall always be grateful to you. Any woman with blood flowing in her veins cannot resist the charms of our dearest Jamie. I can’t count the times I’ve been at a party where all it took was for Jamie’s name to be mentioned and the entire conversation devolve into breathless sighs and knowing nods.

What woman doesn’t fancy herself as Jamie’s Claire? After reading the story of their wedding-night, you made me seriously wonder for a moment, “Where can I get myself a 23-year old, red-headed, Scottish virgin?”

I think aging Jamie and Claire was a stroke of genius. As your readers grow older they want to see older characters still getting it up and getting it on. I love that Jamie and Claire are still as hot for each other now as they were when they were in their 20’s. It is inspirational.

So, Diana, thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this epic story of these two people truly in love with one another throughout all time and history. You’ve made my life happier.

That said, please hear me. I’m a fan. A real fan. I might not be your #1 Fan, or even your #2 Fan, and I might not own any Outlander jewelry, but I’m a real fan nonetheless. And as a real fan I feel it is my obligation to tell you the truth. I’ve followed the tale of Claire and Jamie down all your many twisty-turny, timey-wimey paths, but now you’re trying my patience and, I must warn you, you are getting close to my very last nerve.

Risking the vengeful wrath of the powerful Ladies of Lallybroch, I’m going to say it out loud, “Echo in the Bone was a frustrating disappointment.

My best guess is that you’ve gotten a little too big for your britches and your editors aren’t as quick to rein you in, but rein you in they should have done. There was simply too much William. And William is boring. He’s flat and one-dimensional and I find myself wondering if he even has any Jamie in him at all. What is up with that?

I have one suggestion that might help: William needs to get laid. At the very least he needs to act like he’d like to get laid. By a girl, if possible. Please. Diana, give him a girlfriend, because, Dear Lord, please don’t give Jamie’s son a boyfriend.

And while we’re on the topic of boyfriends. I can’t speak for the rest of your readers, who apparently are ponying up the bucks and buying Lord John books, but I don’t want to read gay romance. Even if it is the saintly Lord John. I’m just not into that.

Yes, he’s a nice enough fellow; I don’t begrudge him his love life. BUT I absolutely do not want to read about it. Haven’t you made enough amends now to all the homosexuals of the world when you created a nice gay character after that evil sadomasochistic pervert, Black Jack Randall? Can you please stop now and focus on the main thing–finishing this story right? Because even if all Lord John does is get a twinkle in his eye for the guy across the room, I’m not going to pay good money to read about it. I’m afraid that I’m just a simple straight woman who isn’t into gay sex. Sue me. That’s just the way it is.

And, in the name of everything that is good and holy, I am afraid that you might have jumped the shark by having Claire and Lord John have sex with each other. That stretched me almost to my limit of incredulity.

I take that back. I just thought you’d jumped the shark when you married the very gay Lord John to Claire, AND HAD THEM HAVE SEX WITH EACH OTHER, leading to one of the world’s greatest WTF?s in literary history. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, then you came out with The Exile.

A comic book? Really? You, Diana Gabaldon, who can make words dance off a page and into a woman’s heart, wasted your time and talents on putting out a comic book? Er, forgive me, “Graphic Novel.” Which is just a fancy name for a COMIC BOOK.

Please, Diana, STOP! Put down the Lord John, stop writing comic books, quit traveling around the world doing book signings, or reviewing musicals based on Outlander. (I’m sorry, your story is wonderful, but I just get all sick to my stomach and squeegy inside even thinking about being trapped in a theatre audience and forced to listen to Jamie and Black Jack singing to each other in Wentworth Prison. BLECH!)

So this is my plaintive plea:

Diana, please finish the Outlander Series and finish it well. I’m not exactly sure how you’re going to be able to do that now with the mess you’ve created in Echo, but somehow you have to do it. Redeem it all. End it as it should, with Jamie standing as the ghost under Claire’s window in Inverness in 1945 and all will be forgiven.

Love,

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Lou March 2, 2017 at 8:46 am

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
Your review of the Gabaldon Outlander books (8 books) is truly perfect. I do look forward to the 9th book. The writer is getting a bit odd – messy – without pulling through excellent characters and fumbling wildly across the pages – across the books – with bland boring subject matter and boring characters (William/Jamie’s son could have been so dreamy). After completing the books – my dreamy Jamie has left me thinking he must be a bit of a closet gay (all the references to gay men & Lord Grey). I hope Gabaldon does not ruin Claire & Jamie’s incredible love. Although, not a Lord Grey follower – the marriage did not bother me so much. The writer simply did not build up or pull it through very well. Then the weird delay of Jamie finding his way back to Claire – poorly executed.

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Seth June 20, 2016 at 6:31 am

I just finished Outlander, I enjoyed the book and character development. Although offensive to some readers, I thought the rape and torture of Jamie was an essential part of the book. It give you a sense of just how amazing his love for Claire was. Plus Jamie is to an extent unbreakable, he had to be dragged into a situation that literally destroyed who he was to truly show the power of his and Claire’s love.
I have issue with Diana Gabaldon coming out 20 years after the book was written to express that Jack Randall was not gay. I feel as though this was more so a political move on her part to keep from getting flack from the LGBT community. I feel as though the book speaks for itself on the matter of Jack Randall’s prefered sexual orientation. However, this issue does not matter, and in my opinion the book does not put homosexuals in an unfair light. We are talking about 1 psycho character that happens to be gay. Plus there’s another homosexual character in the book who is a very noble person. It just irritates me because I feel like this move was very politically driven, especially in light of the TV series getting so much attention.

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Chloe Jeffreys June 20, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Seth, I very much appreciate your perspective. Gay persons are not more or less likely to be psychopathic than straight persons, and I feel that Gabaldon has more than made up for making Jack Black a gay psychopath with Lord John than any way she could. Her books are filled with straight psychopaths as well, and she shouldn’t be forced to make excuses for an inexcusable character.

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Feddupp April 11, 2016 at 5:16 pm

I must agree. I was very disappointed/disgusted with the entire Blackjack Randall rape of Jamie episode. Felt it was unnecessary and was angry with Diana for writing it.
I have no interest in ANY of the Lord John books and have not bought any of them.
I agree about the ‘graphic novel’. Wish I had not bought it…useless.
I do not care about their children and I really do not care to see them continue until they are being pushed around in wheel chairs.
The fresh love story is intoxicating but as with everything beautiful it must eventually die. Please let it die with grace.

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Sonya July 15, 2015 at 3:35 am

“What woman doesn’t fancy herself as Jamie’s Claire?”

Women who don’ fantasise about being beaten with a leather strap after almost being raped, and then forced to have sex with this so-called romantic hero…

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Sonya July 15, 2015 at 3:35 am

Whoops – “don’t”.

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Beth August 8, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Or women who don’t think that they should be held accountable for their actions–because they are WOMEN! Enjoy your cake!

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Tray February 21, 2016 at 10:24 am

People really need to get over the “beaten with a strap” scene. It’s perfectly within the culture of the time and is a plot device allowing for character development.

Perhaps you should refrain from reading historical fiction.

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Kris June 6, 2015 at 9:19 am

Oh dear. So, you don’t like to read gay romance, and that means it has no right to exist? So, when a gay character is written, it’s just some kind of token to pay off the homosexuals, rather than just, you know a character? Because, dare I say, gay people deserve representation as well as you, simple straight woman? And you actually think Randall is gay? Because you think what he did to Jamie was sex? What the hell is wrong with you?
And did you just completely dismiss something because it’s a graphic novel and put down an entire genre you probably know nothing about?
And did you seriously just tell someone to drop their life and their creative choices to serve you your fantasies on a platter?
I’m…actually not sure if you’re being serious. This entire thing reads like a troll post. Seems hard to believe someone would this self-centered, entitled and rude.
It warms my heard to know Gabaldon will likely never see this. With “real fans” like you, who needs critics and enemies?

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Carly April 29, 2015 at 10:29 am

The most excellent Outlander thing ever written. I haven’t read #7 or #8 yet since I heard #7 was a total cliffhanger ending and I abhor books that end with cliffhangers, especially ones where the author takes years to put out the next ones. I’m aghast to hear the part of Claire and Lord John (And also, I tried the first Lord John novel and couldn’t do anymore). I do think Gabaldon is riding a bit high on her successful horse but overall has an awesome story which I actually hope ends soon!! Thanks for this!!

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DCSusan April 29, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Carly, may I suggest you do what I did and skip #7 and go to #8–which you should very much enjoy. I loved #8 throughout and it ended in an absolutely beautiful way. If Diana doesn’t finish #9, all will be right with the world ending the series with #8. About three weeks after I finished #8, however, I thought why not read Echo and I did. Because Diana is such a great writer, I enjoyed much of Echo, after knowing how things turned out in MOBY–which I had to go back and quickly reread through!

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DCSusan March 18, 2015 at 5:51 am

After reading this post, I skipped An Echo in the Bone and went to Written in my Own Heart’s Blood. I liked it very much and felt Diana was back on track because she is a great writer. Claire and Jaime’s relationship still hot, the parts about LJG and his brother gave the story variety, as did the other love stories. Much less of disturbing sex in this one and lots about the Revolutionary War (which I like reading about). So I’ll await Book 9, but I can live with the absolutely beautiful ending of My Own Heart’s Blood. I can see Claire and Jaime racing down the hill–together–toward the family they love.

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Denise Sevief-Fries March 10, 2015 at 11:19 am

I am not certain if this blog is still active, but as it is still gathering comments as recent as Mar 4 2015, I will assume it is. I will give you the link to my blog response to your post, if you are at all interested. I would advise you to ignore it though. Not that I am gay, but I do have twinkling eyes and it wasn’t clear if you objected to that too…I am just unsure. Either way, here you go: http://parcaschosen.blogspot.ca/2015/03/outlander-spotlight-on-burrito-burp.html
Denise Sevief-Fries recently posted..OUTLANDER: defending Diana or SPOTLIGHT ON A BURRITO BURPMy Profile

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junowho March 11, 2015 at 10:12 am

So this is your rebuttal, chiding one person’s opinion with your own scathing opinions, right? No thanks.

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Chloe Jeffreys March 18, 2015 at 12:47 am

Thank you for the invitation! I’m really glad that what I’ve written here has inspired you in some way. That means a lot to me. Have a great day!

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Shelly L March 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Chloe, I know exactly what you mean… some women want to read about gay sex and some don’t and I don’t. It doesn’t mean I’m homophobic, it just means I don’t enjoy reading about it AT ALL. There are probably tons of gay people who can’t stand reading about hetero sex too. God bless ’em. I don’t want Jamie to even think about his tortured rape scenes with Randall either. Who needs that horrible stuff? It was too much. I don’t understand why good writers want to take a great character they’ve just created (Jamie) and then torture him, rape him, and nearly destroy him. It seems like a psychological problem the WRITER is having.
So, I just want to read about the Claire Jamie story and it sounds like I might be skipping many of the later books if there’s too much unrelated stuff happening. I’m just not interested.

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junowho March 11, 2015 at 10:17 am

The good thing is, you don’t have to read any of the LJG books, if you don’t care to read them. I mean there are little bits and pieces in that series that also pop up in the Outlander series, but not something that is *need to know* in order to enjoy Outlander. So, if you aren’t a LJG fan, you don’t have to read about him, other than his interactions with Jamie & Claire.

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Lynn saltzman April 21, 2015 at 8:36 am

My sentiments exactly!

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Maureen October 20, 2014 at 11:42 am

I truly don’t believe Diana knows HOW to end the series — how to kill off Jamie and Claire. I have read every one of these books precisely to find out what the ghost at the window as all about, but I don’t think even Diana knows. If you have read her comments, you know that she wrote Outlander as a practice book, I don’t think she thought she would ever even have to explain the ghost thing. That said, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood was much better than Echo in the Bone. Here’s hoping she finds a way to end this thing with the next book!

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junowho March 11, 2015 at 10:19 am

Hush it! Never! I want to read this series forever. I want to see adult Jem & Mandy their families and their grand-children, etc. Okay. I guess if #9 is the last book, I will struggle to go on.

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Lynn saltzman April 21, 2015 at 8:37 am

Me too !

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Murphy September 20, 2014 at 7:38 am

Here’s an idea, if you think Diana has gotten it so wrong why don’t you sit down and write your own damn book….the nerve some people have to try and tell someone else what story THEY should tell. Unreal.

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J May 12, 2015 at 10:48 pm

I know! It’s like, when a President is criticized. Why don’t they sit down and run your own campaign for office?!

I mean, the gall some people have, with their opinions!

/sarcastic irony

It’s the ‘murican way to tell people how to run their lives, do their jobs, and run their government. We don’t have a monarch to tell us that, so we have to constantly badger each other into submission…

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DCSusan August 26, 2014 at 8:38 am

This is SOOOOO right! The place to end the saga is under Claire’s window in Inverness in 1945. Such a haunting scene….and so well done in the Starz TV series now being shown.

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Mary June 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Well, she has come out with another book. Written In My Heart’s Own Blood. I’ve just started reading it, but, as usual, everyone is snorting, everyone’s mouth is either twitching or quirking, everyone is hiding their amusement, and they’re all inflamed with lust or rage at every moment. Nothing new here.

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Elena ehrm May 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm

You sound like a homophobic to me.

I too am a straight woman. Lord John is my favorite character next to Jamie and Claire. He is Jamie. The only difference is his sexual preference. I hope she continues to write the Lord John books.

Shame on you badmouthing one of the greatest writers of our time due to your religious homophobic beliefs.
I hope you will not remove this reply from your page, as I notice most of the replies share your beliefs.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

I’m homophobic because I don’t want to read about gay sex? Seriously? I also don’t want to read about Golden Showers but that doesn’t mean I’m afraid of pee.

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efmather2006 July 30, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Heh. Homophobia isn’t literal fear, it’s disgust at gay sex and wishing it didn’t exist, which is fair enough (though lots of straight women are turned on by it. Sexuality is a mystery that way). Lots and lots of men (and some women), after all, think that women really shouldn’t have sex after age 50. Or 45, or even 40, because our bodies “disgust them” and shouldn’t “old” people after menopause stop having those feelings altogether? What with the way their genitals don’t work and everything sags and isn’t very sexual and all (can you tell I’ve run into a lot of this crappy attitude?).

Reading about gay sex (and not Black Jack Randall’s torture of Jamie, which is rape and not sex, imo – BJR isn’t even a sexual person, just a psychopath) is a lot like reading about senior romance: kind of off-putting for the romance market.

Agreed, though, that characters that are only about sexual orientation, straight or gay, are dull. Macho, manly gay man? Sweet and less masculine straight man? Sure, and both equally true to life. If they have some other function on the page other than sex, that is. No character should be flat – that’s no fun to read.
And one of the most hilarious and awkward gay man/straight woman sex scenes ever is in The Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant, in which the heroine is married off to a wealthy man of status and learns about 20 years worth of the facts of life on her wedding night, as well as the fact that her husband is involved in a romance with her brother. Believe it or not, they do learn to love each other non-romantically, which is pretty moving.

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Kathy W. September 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Diana S, you read my mind! I was going to also say the thank you, thank you, thank you! I was just re-reading the series so I could get to “Echo” & now I’m so glad I didn’t waste the money on it. I would have been throwing it across the room!
Outlander is one of my faves but I have to skip some parts! Blech!

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Michele August 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm

So, everything in the books is supposed to be following a strictly linear progression, without the weirdness and drama that actually exists in real life? Just because you don’t think it would happen in YOUR life doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, and I remember many people complaining years ago about how ‘flat’ Bree was in the beginning, much like you are saying William is. Two words: Character Development. This takes time and interaction with other characters. We saw William as a young child a few times, then as an adult at almost the same age that we first met Jamie. Give it a chance. And I read somewhere about writing novels that some things that happen in real life couldn’t be included in novels, just because it’s too weird for words. Well, Diana has always seemed to me to be writing about real life . . . and nothing can be more strange than ‘real life’.

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Maureen October 20, 2014 at 11:41 am

I truly don’t believe Diana knows HOW to end the series — how to kill off Jamie and Claire. I have read every one of these books precisely to find out what the ghost at the window as all about, but I don’t think even Diana knows. If you have read her comments, you know that she wrote Outlander as a practice book, I don’t think she thought she would ever even have to explain the ghost thing. That said, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood was much better than Echo in the Bone. Here’s hoping she finds a way to end this thing with the next book!

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Diana S. August 25, 2011 at 4:02 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought I was the only one out here who couldn’t understand Diana’s fascination with Lord John; it brings rest to my soul to know I’m not alone. Finally when “Echo” picked up speed toward the end, I had to endure – yes endure – the John/Claire “thing” (I can’t even bring myself to say it). The marriage was bad enough, but Diana went tooooooo far thinking that Claire would have sex with John.

And the ghost! It all must come back to that. Oh – and did I mention that I am bored and disappointed with William’s character, too? What could be better, I thought, than a son of Jamie’s? How could it have gone so wrong?

I raise my glass of wine to you all and pray that the next book redeems my faith.

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Chloe August 25, 2011 at 9:43 am

Diana S., you are NOT alone. As you can see from the comments here, many of us feel this way. I hope Diana finds here way back to one of the best romances of all time. I’m rooting for her all the way!

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Jamila Jamison August 23, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Hear, hear! I sign onto all of the above. Admittedly, I’m not squicked out by Lord John, but I WAS squicked out by him sleeping with Claire. I think I screamed and threw the book across the room.

Really, I want her to cut back on all of the 3rd person chapters and focus on Claire. And Jamie. And Claire and Jamie having ‘bonding time.’ William is boring. Brianna whines far too much. Roger is sweet, but gawd, he can whine too. And I… I want a satisfactory ending for a world that I have become rather attached to. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the book, but I want her to fix all the crazy that she introduced at the end of Echo in the Bone.

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Becky Johnson July 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Dare I admit I've never even heard of this series, let alone read it? Guide me ladies. Where do I start?

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Chloe July 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

It must be tough to keep all those characters and their convoluted stories straight. I hope she hasn't forgotten. If not Jamie then who was the ghost?

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Chloe July 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

It is a concern. Somebody the other day said to me, "I hope Jesus comes back soon" and I thought, "Not before Diana Galbaldon finishes Outlander I hope."

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junowho March 11, 2015 at 10:15 am

Yes. I worry about that and about being hit by a truck, before the next book comes out. Thank goodness I lived to see Written in My Own Hearts Blood. Let’s hope we all make it to the 9th book in the series!

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Chloe Jeffreys March 18, 2015 at 12:45 am

I agree. The 8th book was good. She did clean up some of her mess and pulled the action back together. I also appreciated that Bree is finally pulling her head out of her self-absorbed ass and realizing what a great man Roger is.

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Leslie Hemphill Adams July 13, 2011 at 6:18 am

Amen, amen, and AMEN!!!!! Especially the ghost part – I wonder if she's FORGOTTEN!

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:27 am

YES! Thank you!

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:27 am

I'm so sorry about you having trouble. I'm not tech savvy enough to trouble-shoot much yet. I think disqus is sometimes fickle.

I can't listen to audio books. I wish I could. BTW, love your blog.

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:26 am

I must admit that the end of Outlander was shocking for me. I can't take much of that sort of thing without feeling queasy. But in the end I felt it was totally worth it and it made Jamie a fully-fleshed out character instead of the usual sort of simple romance hero we usually get.

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:24 am

Who did not want to like this book? We all did. Now I'm back to waiting, but now I'm worried.

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:24 am

Maybe our cries will somehow reach Olympus. We can only hope, can't we?

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:23 am

Ahhh, I wondered if you'd see this and how you felt. I just can't imagine anyone was satisfied by her last book. So long and draggy for the first ten thousand pages and then suddenly four cliff-hangers in the span of a paragraph or two? WTHeck?

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:22 am

I think book eight is going to be called "Bloody Men" or something. I've read a couple of excerpts and I have no idea. I want Diana to know I pray for her to live every day. I would be willing to read a book on the character of Raymond and I think she's supposed to be working on that.

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Chloe July 12, 2011 at 3:21 am

Yes! I just finally couldn't take it anymore. I hope she reads this letter. I hope the Ladies of Lallybroch don't find me and force me to eat my own liver.

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Anne July 12, 2011 at 2:08 am

Reading this makes me remember all the time we've spent talking about this, so all I have to add is YES! In fact, I've stopped reading the series.

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Amy R July 12, 2011 at 1:19 am

Awesome letter, Chloe!

I just hit her website a week or so ago, looking for an update. My trips to the library have been unexciting lately.

I believe book eight is due out in 2012. I haven't been able to bring myself to read the Lord John books either, but I may make an exception for The Scottish Prisoner. There's and excerpt of it on her website. Can you begin a book that way???

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Dslade123 July 12, 2011 at 1:03 am

Insert applause here. I heartily agree!

Diana/Outlander

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Mrs.Evans24-7 July 12, 2011 at 12:16 am

Spot on, my friend, spot on! I feel the exact same way about the Lord John novels.

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lore g July 12, 2011 at 12:08 am

I have actually worried about the same thing when I have been heavily invested in series – "What if I DIE before I find out what happens????" Very distressing :p

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Kristi Lockwood July 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Oh.My.Word. YES!! I wanted to like Echo, I really really did – after waiting eons for it to be released. It was pretty darn horrible. Maybe you can send her this post. Couldn’t hurt.

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Stephanie (Just Me) July 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I'm one of those heretics who sometimes skims the end of a book first, to see if I want to read the whole thing. The ending of Outlander, and the earlier incident to which it refers, pegged the "Ewww" meter for me and made me pass on reading the series. I've started to reconsider, but now your post has me re-reconsidering. I don't want to get mired in a series that has a disappointing finale, no matter now appealing the male lead.

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Chloe July 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm

And Amen. If we can't have World Peace and sustainable energy then at least we could have a good ending to a great story.

Diana, please stop mucking around!

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Chloe July 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Yes, jenipipes, the madness must end. I hope she has the guts to do it.

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Chloe July 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm

She really totally should listen to me. I hope the Ladies of Lallybroch don't find out about this post; they'll have my hide.

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jenipipes July 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Ha, ha!! I agree my dear, TO IT ALL! I listen on audiobook or I'm not sure I'd have the time or patience to have gotten through it all. I do love Jamie and Claire though and will endure to that sweet, intriguing end that you mentioned.

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MX Mom Heather July 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I know nothing about these Lords and Outlandishers that you speak of, but I hear your tone. This is serious business. Please, Diana, listen to Chloe!

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Jmmom July 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm

And let the people say "amen!"

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Chloe July 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I know! I can't believe it is still like two or three more YEARS until she finishes this thing. I hope neither of us dies waiting.

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Margaret Hollingsworth July 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Amen sister!

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