I have reread this book for three main reasons. First, I wanted the story fresh in my mind when the Starz series starts in August. Second, my husbandI have reread this book for three main reasons. First, I wanted the story fresh in my mind when the Starz series starts in August. Second, my husband and I are going to Scotland this summer and will be visiting some of the places in the book and the film locations. Third, the story itself is so incredibly well done that it is worth reading over. There are always things that I didn't notice or remember from previous readings. This is an incredibly emotional book, with a rollercoaster of feelings - laughter, tears, joy, fear, confusion, pain, and most of all love.
Claire is the heroine, through whose eyes the story is told. She and her husband are on a second honeymoon in Scotland, getting to know each other again after years apart during the war. He is into genealogy and spends a lot of time researching his family. Claire is interested in the healing properties of plants and during a search for a rare one ends up in a local stone circle. She is thrown back in time to 1743 when she touches one of the stones. At first she thinks she is caught up in some kind of reenactment, but soon discovers she really is in 1743.
Claire is an amazingly strong and adaptable woman. Thanks to being raised by her archaeologist uncle, she is accustomed to primitive living and adjusts pretty quickly to her surroundings. She is also very independent, which gets her into hot water several times, as she pursues her own desire to find a way back to her own time. She is a pretty good judge of character and adept at reading people which also helps in her adjustment. She also has no problem speaking her mind. Her medical training comes in handy as she helps treat various members of the clan with whom she is living. One of them is Jamie Fraser, a handsome young Scot who seems to have some secrets of his own. Over the course of the first few weeks she is there, she and Jamie become friends. She is also attracted to him, but as she considers herself married (even though her husband hasn't been born yet) she does nothing about it.
Jamie is a fantastic hero. He is honorable, intelligent, strong mentally and physically. He has been through some incredibly bad times, leaving him with both physical and mental scars, but has also retained his sense of humor and humanity. He is tough on the outside, but has a kind and sensitive soul. He is a keen observer of people. He is drawn to Claire, her beauty and her forthright personality.
The two of them together make an amazing couple. They start out with a strong friendship and a pledge of honesty between them. When they are forced to marry to keep Claire safe it is the beginning of a romance for the ages. Jamie's feelings for Claire are pretty clear from the beginning and only get stronger. Claire takes a bit longer to come to terms with her feelings because of the existence of her first husband. Once she accepts her feelings, the love between them only gets stronger. That love has to get them through several dark periods as outside forces work to tear them apart. There are also some clashes between Jamie and Claire when her 20th century outlook causes her to do things that put her in danger and she has to deal with the consequences. Those consequences are accurate for the time period, but can be a bit hard for a modern reader to accept. That same outlook and independence makes her a strong fighter when it comes to saving Jamie's life on at least two occasions.
The setting of the years before the Jacobite Rising emphasizes the dangers that Claire and Jamie face. Jamie has a sadistic British captain who has it in for him. There are several encounters with him that show just how evil he is, including a very bad scene at the end of the book. An added twist to the story is that this man is the ancestor, and lookalike, of Claire's husband Frank. The daily life of the people is a hard one, not without dangers of its own, including an accusation of witchcraft that nearly costs Claire her life. There is also the fact that Scotland is basically an occupied country, and there are encounters of various intensities between the Scots and the British soldiers.
The secondary characters are all as well drawn and complex as Jamie and Claire themselves. Each one has an important part of the story. Colum and Dougal show the complexity of dealing with the politics of the time while trying to keep their people safe. Jamie's sister Jenny shows the importance that Jamie places on his family and his need to protect them. Their actions on his return home also show a great deal about their characters, as well as providing a bit of comic relief. There are also other characters that show up for brief periods, but whose presence or actions add another layer to what we know.
One of the best things about the book is the richness of the detail. Everything from the food eaten and clothes worn to the descriptions of the prisons has been painstakingly researched and it shows. It is easy to get completely immersed in the story. ...more
The story continues. In Voyager, Claire made the decision to go back through the stones to find Jamie, who had survived Culloden after all. Their adveThe story continues. In Voyager, Claire made the decision to go back through the stones to find Jamie, who had survived Culloden after all. Their adventures brought them to the coast of the colony of Georgia and the chance of a new life in the New World. Their initial plan is to go to North Carolina and find Jamie's aunt Jocasta, who had moved there years ago, and then put young Ian on a ship back to Scotland. While there, they receive a letter from Jenny, asking them to keep Ian with them and therefore giving him a better life than he'd have in Scotland. Their trip isn't without its troubles, as they are robbed, meet a pirate named Stephen Bonnet, and run into slave problems on his aunt's plantation. Jamie longs for land of his own and with the encouragement of the governor of the colony, he and Claire head for the hills and establish their new home on Fraser's Ridge.
Meanwhile, back in modern day Scotland, Brianna desperately misses her mother, but is growing ever closer to Roger MacKenzie Wakefield. Until the day she discovers a newspaper article detailing the deaths of her parents in a house fire. Determined to try to change history, she makes a leap of her own in order to go find them, leaving Roger behind. Not to be outdone, Roger follows behind her. He is able to find her, then they pledge themselves to each other before Roger goes off to find a way for them to get back home after they deliver their message.
While separated trouble finds Brianna before she can find Claire and Jamie, leaving her with consequences that could keep her from going home. Through a terrible misunderstanding, Jamie and Ian intercept Roger before he can catch up with Brianna, and they give him to a far away Indian tribe, hoping to keep him far from Brianna. When the truth is known, Jamie and company must find a way to get Roger back.
Once again the book is rich with historical detail and characters that leap off the page. I loved Brianna's determination to save her parents even though she has no guarantee that she can make the trip. I really liked seeing her make her plans and carry them out. The part that Bonnet plays is multilayered, and affects both Claire and Brianna, though in different ways. I was frustrated by Jamie's actions, as I thought he should have at least listened to what Roger had to say before taking action. I loved Brianna's first meeting with Jamie - so emotional. The description of what happened in the Indian village, both to Roger and Ian made me feel almost as if I was there. I also felt for Roger because of the decision he had to make, even though I was sure he would ultimately make the right choice. I loved seeing Lord John and Willie show up on Fraser's Ridge, and seeing the effect it had on Jamie. I also loved seeing John step in to help Brianna.
I really enjoyed seeing life in the colonies as events are growing closer to war with England. With Claie's knowledge of the future they know what side they should take, but hope to avoid fighting entirely. I loved seeing Bree and Roger get back together and get to be the support that that each other needs. ...more
This is my all-time favorite series of books. I love family sagas and this one starts during the Revolutionary War with Dawn's Early Light and concludThis is my all-time favorite series of books. I love family sagas and this one starts during the Revolutionary War with Dawn's Early Light and concludes with this book covering the first part of World War 2 in England. This one starts with Stephen bringing his English bride home to meet his parents. Evadne is from the English side of the family and not as familiar with all the family stories as her niece Mab is. She is fascinated though slightly disturbed by Mab's resemblance to Tabitha Day, especially since cousin Jeff looks like Julian, but is married to someone else. Upon their return to England, everyone is very careful not to make too much of Mab's fascination. Those worries are overshadowed by the looming war as Hitler starts his takeover of Europe. The historical snapshots of what life was like in England at this time are fascinating as they focus on individual contributions as well as the big picture. Throughout the book there are fantastic stories of the way the British faced the impending war and then the actuality of the battles and air raids, but all with a personal and real feeling. Everyone is affected in different ways and tragedy does not pass them by. I have always loved the way that Mab has never hidden her feelings for Jeff and that everyone accepts it. Even Jeff's wife is aware, but it has never made a difference to the way they deal with each other. When multiple tragedies hit Mab, she and her grandmother Virginia go to Williamsburg, where Mab can begin to recover. It gives a wonderful feeling of the story coming full circle....more