A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Another lengthy installment by Gabaldon! While I enjoyed this book I didn’t think it near up to standard as a few of her past books. The plot was there, the characters also, but some of it rang as somewhat unbelievable to me. I do give her great praise for her title though. “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” just sounds very poetic.

To recap (and possibly a spoiler for those who haven’t read the series), Claire, a nurse, had traveled back in time from the 1940’s to Scotland in the 1700’s. There she meets Jamie and through a series of misadventure, becomes married and then falls in love with him. Pregnant with his child, she comes back to the future when a war approaches that she believes kills Jamie. 20 years later she finds that he lives and returns to the past to find him. Together they head to America where they are joined by their daughter and her betrothed. They have to cope with all the impending dangers of the War for Independence and their own problems as well.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes has many things that happen in it. So much that I can’t go into near the detail the book deserves without writing a book myself. Suffice to say that there is numerous kidnappings, rape, pregnancies and the betrayal of Claire by someone she holds very dear. In addition to this, a bit of background and some action is done by Jamie in preparation for the upcoming war. There are some light hearted moments however. Bree develops several “new” inventions to make life easier, they celebrate with friends, and in general stay alive in harsh times.

My complaints on this book being unbelievable at times are just a few. One is the subject of rape. It seems that Gabaldon can’t just leave her characters alone in this regard and nearly every character has experienced it now. I know times were rough but I have trouble believing that almost every woman had been raped in those days. Another would be some of Bree’s inventions. While she is a smart resourceful person who studied to be an engineer, its seems strange that she should know how to create so many things. The only explanation I have is she looked up how to do these things before traveling back in time, but no mention of that course of action was ever in the books.

Gabladon’s writing style is very descriptive. It is usually clear and easy to follow, however, I noticed with this novel that there were some parts that confused me. We’d be at one scene and then all of a sudden the next chapter its weeks? months? later and we are in the middle of some action without knowing how we got there. Eventually further on it would explain what was going on, but it was disorienting at first. The book is mostly from Claire’s point of view but it does have some scenes in the third person when she is not present.

Overall I did enjoy this book. It wasn’t as good as some of the others but still held my attention overall. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Copyright 2005
980 pages