Today, to my immense regret, I finished listening to Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. I will miss the soft Scottish accents, and am already pining for the dashing Jamie Fraser, surely one of the most pantingly sexy heroes ever to grace the pages (bytes?) of an audiobook.
The main character in the book, Claire, is on holiday with her husband in the Scottish Highlands in 1945, celebrating the end of the war, when she slips through a time portal and finds herself in 1741. At one point in the book she has to decide whether to stay in 1741 or whether to return to her own time. I won’t spoil it by telling you which she decides.
It made me wonder why we (some of us, anyway) love historical novels so much, and if we secretly yearn for a less complicated time.
Let’s look at the pros of the respective eras.
– Modern medicine
– Education for all
– Comfort, heating and air conditioning
– Rapid travel
– Greater social and geographical mobility
– Easy access to food and clean water
– Better justice and legal systems (e.g. no witchcraft trials)
– Technology (mobile phones, computers, etc)
– Less hurried pace of life
– Closer to nature – and more nature to be close to
– Stronger social and family structures
Hmm, I’m struggling. There’s definitely something appealing about historical times, but either this is nostalgia for a world that never actually existed, or I’m just not managing to put my finger on what it is we are yearning for. On the face of it, it seems we are so much better off now than we were then.
But really, how much happier are we?
So I have 3 questions for you:
1. Would you rather live now, or live then?
2. If you’d prefer then, what is it about that era that appeals to you?
3. How can we combine the best of the past with the best of the present, to create the best possible future?
Okay, these are rather big questions, especially the last one. But I’d be really interested to hear your views. Don’t worry if you don’t have an answer to (3) – even feedback on (1) and (2) would be very interesting to me.
My next book promises to be rather different – “Red Mars”, by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s about the colonisation of Mars, and starts in 2026. All this zipping around between the centuries (not to mention planets) is getting quite dizzying.
After days of relentless sunshine, this morning was overcast and this afternoon brought torrential rain. Always too much of something. Ooh, and as I was typing this, I heard a huge rumble of thunder. Maybe I’m best off hanging out in the cabin for a wee bit longer.
No sign of Alf today. Neither Alf I or Alf II. They’re hiding from the rain if they’ve got any sense.
Hello and goodbye Nauru. I passed about 20 miles to the south of it today. Couldn’t see it, especially in all the rain and murk. I don’t know anything about Nauru – can anybody enlighten me with a few facts?
Thanks for the feedback on the moonbow. Glad I wasn’t just seeing things. Always good to get a sanity check once in a while out here.
Hi to Sybil, Nick, Bill, Matthew, Dave, Gigi, Paul, Ellen, Joan, Stan, Rachel and Ken. Thanks for your comments – and your support!
And thanks especially to UncaDoug for the trail of carrot$ strewn across the Pacific. Joan – have alerted Nova to the wonky Widget. Thanks for issuing the rallying cry for the foundation fundraiser. It’s important to me so I hope that this summer we can make big strides towards making it happen.
Steve – StarWalk is my favourite iPhone app for starspotting, but my phone is staying safe and sound in its waterproof bag for the duration of my crossing!
Special thanks today to Lemon Lady Karen Morss for the lovely jams and marmalades, made from her own fruit and made in her own kitchen. I had some of the plum jam today with crackers and some very average cheese I bought in Tarawa. The jam made up for the deficiencies in the cheese. And thanks for the inspiring quotes too, Karen – much appreciated!