Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: Finding Fraser


I met Jamie Fraser when I was nineteen years old. He was tall, red-headed, and at our first meeting at least, a virgin. I fell in love hard, fast, and completely. He knew how to ride a horse, wield a sword, and stitch a wound. He was, in fact, the perfect man.

That he was fictional hardly entered into it.

~ kc dyer, Finding Fraser

Finding Fraser is a light-hearted tale of discovery centered around a die-hard Outlander book series fan, Emma Sheridan, who decides to chart a crazy brave, new, Outlander-inspired course for her life. She is newly divorced and dreading a lonely life as her 30th birthday looms. Her family is not close, her job is uninspiring, she’s shy, naive, and reclusive, and she longs for a deep romantic connection and trusted life partner. She is not meeting the caliber of men she’d like to in Chicago. Which, to be honest, is Jamie Fraser — Outlander’s hunky, Highlander heartthrob — or a current incarnation thereof. I think that many Saucy Readers can identify or at least sympathize with one of more of these concerns, am I right?

So...since Jamie Fraser hasn’t found her, Emma sells her belongings, ditches her mundane life in the U.S., and sets off to find him for herself in Scotland. She also starts a blog about her quest, and her posts help tell her story.

This book is chock full of Outlander references. Recognizing them adds to the humor for series fans, but is not necessary to enjoy the story. Sort of like Bridget Jones’s Diary. You can enjoy that without having seen Colin Firth emerge dripping from the pond in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, but you enjoy it more if you have. You probably enjoy all of life more if you have! ;-)

What did an obsessed enthusiastic fan of the Outlander books, the television series, Jamie Fraser, and Scotland think of the book? I’ll let you know after the jump.



I. Can’t. Even.


Srsly. Just. Cannot.
I’m writing this amidst a harrowing few weeks for fans of the Outlander TV series. We are watching some of the most traumatic scenes in all the books brought to life. Chillingly. Right. Before. Our. Eyes. If you’ve read the books or seen the episodes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Tension so thick, dread so deep, it’s like having the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads ready to drop. We know what lies ahead and we can’t forget or ignore it.

Finding Fraser was published just as the Wentworth Prison episode aired for the first time. The timing could not have been better for fans seeking a little relief from the darkest side of the Outlander world. It was a welcome reprieve from the tension that allowed me to remain emotionally connected to Outlander. According to reader comments I’ve seen online, many other fans found the same solace that I did in these pages as we prepared to face our fears.

What story might help us forget Jamie’s current TV plight?


The elusive Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan)
in his natural habitat.
Book heroine Emma has been doing some soul searching in the wake of her recent divorce from a disappointment she met through an online dating service. She’s looking back through her few serious relationships and not happy with her assessment. When she gets right down to it, she wants someone as heroic and romantic as the King of Men himself, but she lives among mere mortals sorely lacking in integrity, respect, and vision. Maybe she needs to relocate her search to the Motherland where the Outlander adventure began and Claire Beauchamp found timeless true love: Scotland. So she abruptly rips up the few roots she has put down, tells her parents and sister goodbye, and buys an airline ticket to Edinburgh.

Emma doesn’t really have a plan when she gets there, so she does what any book lover would do.
I pulled out my copy of OUTLANDER.

Well, come on. Where do YOU go when your heart is broken?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Some people hit the bar. Some throw themselves into their work. Some just leap into the arms of the first non-homicidal-looking person they find.

Me? I go to the bookstore.

She decides to follow Claire Fraser’s path through Scotland, more or less, and visit key Outlander sites, hoping for some sort of miracle or coincidence — or clue what to do next. Along the way, she meets an assortment of travelers and local residents, muddles through a few mishaps, holds down a job, acquires and hones some useful skills, and accumulates a surprising number of blog followers who cheer her along and keep her honest. (It’s interesting to see how she spins parts of her tale online.)

As for men, she meets a few. One of them even begins a conversation like this:
“I have read the book, y’know.”

“The book? OUTLANDER, you mean?”

He nodded. “Twice, in fact. And just to be clear, I’m no Jamie Fraser.” He crinkled his eyes at me. “I’m not exactly a virgin, for starters.”

Does it soothe and entertain?


Deep breaths. Each day.
Repeat until Saturday night.
Yes! I enjoyed this book verra much. It was fun to read, and to laugh at another loony Outlander fan (rather than myself) getting caught up in her obsession. I am verra grateful for the smiles it inspired at a time when I most needed them.

Some of the developments were fairly predictable, but that didn’t make the story less captivating for me. Emma is an engaging and energetic young woman whom I think many readers can identify with — especially readers who love Outlander or hold a special place in their heart for a literary love. She has the audacity to do something I would be afraid to do, so I had to applaud her courage even when I winced at her stupid decisions or her myopic inability to recognize the opportunities (or lack thereof) right in front of her nose. Over the course of her journey, she gains some much needed self-confidence and clarity, though I think Emma overstates when she says that she has found “her own inner Claire.” I do think she’s on the right track, though!

Her bitch of a sister in particular was a bit one-note, but this was a fast-paced read, so I forgave the broad strokes because they kept the story moving along quickly. After all, I was looking for something uncomplicated and calming to my frazzled nerves. By the time it ended, I felt like I was returning from an invigorating jaunt to Scotland, where I had met all sorts of interesting new people.

Finding Fraser isn’t fanfiction, it’s fiction about a fan who loves Outlander, and I can totally relate to that! Outlander author Diana Gabaldon makes a brief appearance in the book, in a manner of speaking. Herself also recommended this book on Facebook, which is how I found it. And I’m glad I did, because the timing was perfect.

Humor, ancient Scottish ruins, beautiful Scottish countryside, quaint Scottish villages, colorful Scottish characters, pungently peaty Scottish whisky, crazy impulsive American tourist looking for Scottish love of her life: If you’re a fan of Outlander or Scotland, this high-spirited tale of one woman’s search for a real-life Jamie Fraser abounds with these familiar elements. And if you’ve dreamed of finding your own Jamie Fraser, but you can’t set off to Scotland just yet...it’s fun to let Emma Sheridan do it for you!

This Wench rates Finding Fraser...




This Outlander TV series fan desperately trying to calm down rates Finding Fraser...




Have you read Finding Fraser? Have you found other ways to offset your Outlander anxiety? I hope you’ll share your recommendations with us in the comments below!

* gifs from fuckyeahreactions.tumblr.com, Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser photo from Starz

6 comments:

  1. Just finished this book. It was fun, exactly like you describe it here, Kathi. Light and entertaining enough, especially for Outlander fans like us. I would love to visit Scotland, though I hope I can organize my voyage better than Emma...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My ultra-organized BFF is over there right now posting photos on FB of all sorts of beautiful places. My mother is heading to Scotland next month, too. But I'm not jealous. Noooooo. (Ha ha, of course I am.) They are both excellent planners and packers, so I'm hoping they give me lots of tips for when it's my turn. Though pretty much anyone could do better than Emma... :-)

      Delete
  2. i do want to ready that book. kindda reminds me of another author and her search for Mr Darcy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it does! And now that it's Droughtlander again, there's lots of time to read while we anxiously awaiting season 2...

      Delete
  3. I need to read this. It sounds really entertaining.

    ReplyDelete