My adventures with Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser continue!
One of my first blog posts was on the second installment of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber (you can read it here).
These are long books, so it’s a beautiful series to savor over time.
*** SPOILERS FOR BOOK 3/SEASON 3 AHEAD***
The third book, Voyager, deals with the aftermath of the battle at Culloden, Claire’s separation from Jamie. The mysterious Geilis Duncan makes a reappearance. We learn more about Brianna and Roger and even travel to new parts of the world.
The romance between Jamie and Clair is so otherworldly and powerful, it hurts to read about them living apart. After the battle at Culloden, Jamie experiences hardship after hardship. He’s captured and imprisoned by the English, loses his godfather, Murtaugh, experiences the degradation of indentured servitude, and loses a child.
“Man is born to sorrow and whiskers. One of the plagues of Adam”Gabaldon 53
One of the players Jamie meets and befriends is Lord John Grey, a noble officer in the English army. Their friendship is an unorthodox one but nevertheless becomes a vital thread in Jamie’s story. It’s also the basis for the Lord John Grey spin-off novels, also by Gabaldon.
“For whether foolish or wise, naive or experienced, all the Greys were men of honor”Gabaldon 128
Claire, back in 1968, meanwhile, continues to grapple with learning about Jamie’s survival at Culloden. With the help of her daughter, Brianna, and Roger Wakefield, she travels back through the stones to find Jamie, living as a printer and smuggler in Edinburgh.
“Separation came to all families, but most often it was death that intervened, to sever the ties between parent and child. It was the element of choice here that made it so difficult — not that it could ever be easy”Gabaldon 291
Their reunion is incredibly awkward — try being apart for twenty years (or 222 if you really think about it). Nevertheless, passion is never something Jamie and Claire deny each other. There is a sense of relief once they are reunited.
“It has always been forever, for me, Sassenach”Gabaldon 350
“Do you know what it is to live twenty years without a heart? To live half a man, and accustom yourself to living in the bit that’s left, filling in the cracks wi’ what mortar comes handy?”
“Do I know? . . . Yes, you bloody bastard, I know that! What did you think, I’d gone straight back to Frank and lived happily ever after?”Gabaldon 528
Claire continues working as a doctor, despite 18th-century gender role restrictions. What I absolutely adore about this character is the full embrace of her identity as a woman of science and medicine, regardless of what access she has. It comes in handy, too; there’s no way Jamie and company would survive as many trials as they do without Claire’s expertise.
“I’d been a doctor, in every way there is — I’d delivered babies, set bones, stitched wounds, treated fevers . . . . There was a terrible lot I didn’t know, of course. I knew how much I could learn — and that’s why I went to medical school. But it didn’t really make a difference, you know. . . . .I have a diploma with an M.D. on it — but I was a doctor long before I set foot in medical school”Gabaldon 103
“I’m not a lady . . . . I’m a doctor”Gabaldon 730
As always, Jamie and Claire don’t get much peace. A marital spat and incident is the catalyst for a journey across the world — all the way to Jamaica — in search of treasure and loved ones.
As much as I love reading about Scotland and Lallybroch — Jamie’s estate –, it’s fun to travel across the ocean with him and Claire to the balmy shores of Jamaica. It also allows Gabaldon to zero in on the brutality of the slave trade, which thrived during the 18th century. Claire, a woman of the twentieth century, brings a modern sensibility to one of the most shameful parts of global history.
The romance between Jamie and Claire endures test after test; they’re all wildly unfair. But, these protagonists refuse to let each other go.
“God had given her to him: He would restore her”Gabaldon 10).
I’m invested in this series, so I plan to keep reading them. Has anyone else checked out the Outlander series — book or television? Let’s be friends!
Trigger Warnings: ableism; abuse (toxic relationship); blood, gore, graphic injuries; death; medical stuff; needles; racism (Black trauma); rape; schizophrenia; slavery; snakes; suicidal ideation; torture; trauma (PTSD); violence; war