This is the second book of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It was even longer than the first novel with 743 pages and it felt long because it dragged on in parts. It was almost like a diary or journal of someone’s day to day life and I felt like parts could have been left out and the point of the book would have still gotten across to the reader. I still enjoyed the book but just not as much as I like the first book.
After reading the first book, I went ahead and started watching the television series on Starz. I’ve caught up to the tenth episode but the series has changed a lot of things and, in my opinion, does not capture Claire nor Jamie’s personalities the way that the book did. To me, Claire is an intelligent woman who speaks her mind but does it in a way that is kind of sarcastic and hilarious. She also is practical and has a positive attitude and adapts quickly to her every changing situation and environments that she is thrown into. In the television series, she comes off as haughty and a bit of a judgmental bitch. She puts herself in danger by not using discretion and just blurting her judgement over Dougal collecting money on the side. In the book, she observed but didn’t interfere. It made her seem stupid because she put her life in danger by speaking out about it and it really wasn’t any of her business. She wouldn’t have done that in the book. Jamie is pretty serious in the television series and he came off more carefree in the book, not to mention that the actor playing Jamie is not as hot as what I thought he would be.
Back to this book.
It started out in 1968. Roger Wakefield’s father who had helped Frank and Claire in the 1940’s with Frank’s genealogy has just died and Roger has taken off time from his job to come back home to clean out his father’s house. Claire shows up at his door to ask him if he could research a list of names from the Battle of Culloden to find out what happened to them. Claire is older but looks the same and has a grown daughter who is Jamie’s daughter. Frank passed away two years ago and she wants to tell her daughter, Brianna, about her experience and who her real father is. Brianna thinks Frank is her father.
The beginning of the book is sad because we realize that Jamie died, at least that is what Claire thinks, and Claire returned to her own time three years after she disappeared. We know he is dead, of course, because it is 200 years later but also because Claire found his grave when Roger, Brianna and she went to an old kirk and looked at the names on the tomb stones in the cemetery there. It was a strange place for his grave since it was far from Culloden. I don’t think she saw a date of death on the stone though. It made me think that he didn’t die right away at the Battle of Culloden and he could have lived a longer life than Claire thought possible. Roger finds newspaper clippings in his father’s desk about the disappearance and reappearance of Claire. He also found journal entries written by his father about Claire’s disappearance. He realized that Claire had was pregnant when she reappeared so Brianna could not be Frank’s natural daughter. We, the readers, also realize that Claire resumed her life with Frank which made me sad because I felt like it was a betrayal to Jamie.
The first book was written entirely from the point of view of Claire in first person format. This book is written from the point of view of Claire and Roger. Claire’s POV is in first person and Roger’s POV is in third person.
In the last book, Claire was tried as a witch along with Geillis Duncan but Geillis saved her by claiming she was an actual witch and Claire was not and creating a dramatic distraction allowing Jamie to grab Claire and ride away with her. Before Claire is whisked away, she sees the smallpox immunization scar on Geillis’ upper arm and realizes that Geillis is from the future also. Later, Dougal tells Claire that Geillis gave him a message to give to her of “one, nine, sixty, eight” which meant nothing to Dougal but Claire knew it meant that Geillis had come through time from the year 1968. Now Claire is searching for her because she feels indebted to her in some way even though she knows the act of saving her was one of the rare unselfish things that Geillis ever did. Geillis was rather self-serving…after all, she did kill her husband to be with another man and she stole tons of money for the Jacobite cause. But Claire has another reason to find Geillis which has to do with Roger.
After Claire tells her daughter and Roger her story of how she went to the standing stones on Craigh na Dun and was transported back through time a few years before the Battle of Culloden, the story goes from 1968 back to where the last book ended in 1745 where Claire and Jamie had escaped Scotland after Jamie was brutally tortured and raped by Captain Jonathan Randall or Black Jack Randall and they were went to an Abby in France to heal. At the end of the last book Claire had just told Jamie she was pregnant.
In this book, Claire and Jamie travel to Paris because they want to change history and stop Charles Stuart from going to Scotland which will end in the Battle of Culloden which basically destroys everyone Jamie knows and the Highland way of life. Jamie’s cousin, Jared Fraser, is a wealthy merchant who imports and sells alcohol (wine and whiskey and such) and he decides to let Jamie run his business while he goes out of the country to get more business. Claire and Jaime stay at his house while he is gone. They enter into the social scene of the nobles and get invited to attend court.
Jamie becomes friends with Charles Stuart who is living in Paris and Claire becomes friends with Charles’ lover, Louise, who is a married woman. They both try to get information that will aid them in stopping any plans Charles has of starting a war in Scotland but Charles is very careful and even when he drinks, he doesn’t divulge anything to Jamie.
Claire becomes bored and starts working at a hospital for the poor that is run by nuns and basically just has volunteers doing the work there. She becomes friends with the nun who runs the place, Mother Hildegarde.
She also becomes friends with a strange man who sells potions and herbs named Raymond. He is described as a little man who looks like a toad. He seems to know everything that goes on in Paris and helps Claire out a lot.
Because of her healing talents and her association with Raymond, people are leery of Claire. It doesn’t help that Jamie got out of a bad situation by telling the men he was with that Claire is La Dame Blanche or the white woman, a magical woman or witch who can see straight through to the soul of a man and an turn them into ash. He said this because he had been going to bars with Charles Stuart to get information out of him and once they stopped in a tavern that had prostitutes in it. When he refused the advances of the women, the men started teasing him and insisting that he be with the women who were pawing him. One scratched him and another gave him a hickey so he had to make up an excuse not to cheat on Claire so he made up the La Dame Blanche story. It actually came in handy when a few men tried to rape Claire and her friend, Mary Hawkins. A man recognized Claire and ran because he thought she was La Dame Blanche. Unfortunately, another man had already raped Mary Hawkins.
Claire recognized Mary Hawkins name from Frank’s genealogy records. She was married to Jack Randall who was Frank’s 6th great grandfather but when Claire meets her, her family and her godfather, the Duke of Sandringham, are negotiating a marriage contract for her to an elderly wealthy nobleman. When she is raped, it destroys her chances of getting a good marriage. Mary falls in love with Jack Randall’s brother Alex but when she is raped and Alex tried to help her, it appeared that it was he who tried to rape her. He lost his position with the Duke of Sandringham and was sent back to England. It becomes really complicated from there about how she ends up married to the creep Jack Randall.
While in Paris, Jamie meets a young boy of about eight years old and takes him under his wing. The boy is a pickpocket so Jamie uses him to steal mail going to and from Charles Stuart. They learn very little from his letters. The boy who they renamed Fergus grew up in a brothel. He knew one of the women was probably his mother but never found out which one. He was allowed to sleep in a closet under the stairs and eat their scraps.
One day, Jamie was doing business downstairs in the brothel. He left Fergus upstairs with the women. Jack Randall happened to be in the brothel upstairs but Jamie didn’t know it. The women sold Fergus to Jack Randall for sex. Fergus screamed and Jamie found them together and challenged Randall to a duel which is illegal in Paris. Claire heard about the duel through two friends who were gossiping. They said that Jamie had gotten jealous over a whore who Jack Randall was having sex with and challenged him to a duel. Claire, of course, didn’t believe the part about being jealous of the prostitute but did think that Jamie just wanted to kill Jack Randall and had challenged him to a duel even after he had promised her not to kill him until he fathered a child or Frank would never exist.
Claire who had been bleeding on and off with her pregnancy, raced off in a bouncy carriage to find the duel. She found Jamie and Jack Randall dueling and started bleeding and collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital. She almost died and did lose the baby. The only reason she lived was because Raymond snuck into the hospital and did some weird magic on her to save her. She was there for weeks but Jamie never came to see her. Her friend, Louise, took her to her house to recover once she got out. Claire was mad at Jamie and blamed him for the loss of their child even though she knew she would have probably lost the child anyway. She hadn’t even asked anyone where Jamie was or what he was doing and nobody mentioned him to her.
Before the duel, Jamie, Claire and Murtagh had found out that Charles Stuart had invested in a shipment of wine that would make him a lot of money that could help support his rebellion so they devised a plan to destroy the shipment or at least make it not profitable for Charles. Murtagh was to travel on the ship, take a potion that Claire had made to make it look like he had smallpox so they couldn’t land in France. France’s law was to destroy any ship that had smallpox along with all its cargo. Jamie was to show up and buy the merchandise at a discounted rate and to rescue Murtagh in case the ship’s captain decided to just get rid of the sick person overboard to not lose money.
Claire receives a message from Murtagh saying the ship will be in port within a few days so Claire finally has to ask where Jamie is and finds out he is in jail for dueling. She knows how it would be hard on Jamie to be incarcerated since his last experiences were so awful. She also knows that she has to get him out of jail to save Murtagh and their plans. She finds out that the only way to save Jamie is to get an audience with King Louis and the only way to get an audience with him is to sleep with him. To save Jamie and their mission she agrees to it. The King agrees to free Jamie but says that Jamie will have to leave France.
Jamie finds her after he returns from his trip. He forgives her for sleeping with the King which was basically just the king lifting up her skirts and pumping a few times and they leave back to Scotland. He had received a pardon from his crimes to go back to Scotland.
They go back to his lands where his sister and brother-in-law had been taking care of things. They had planted potatoes on Claire’s suggestion the year before because Claire knew that Scotland would have a famine after the Battle of Culloden.
One day, Jamie receives a letter from Charles Stuart and Jamie bellows like a wounded animal. Charles had forged his name on a document that said he along with other Highlander chiefs were backing Charles to reclaim the crown. Charles was on his way to Scotland to start a war and now Jamie had no choice but to back him up.
They end up going to Edinburg where Charles is holding court. Charles is power hungry and not very smart when it comes to warfare. He continues to make poor choices that put everyone at risk. He thinks because he has won a couple of battles that he knows what he is doing but he does not.
Of course, everyone knows what happens in history with the Battle of Culloden. Claire obviously returned and thinks Jamie died at the Battle of Culloden or soon afterwards but nobody really knows for sure. I’m sure the next book will tell us or I hope it does.