Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
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Nov 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical, romance, so-good-it-s-awesome, audiobook, characters-to-fall-in-love-with
Read from October 18 to November 18, 2011

“For if you feel for me as I do for you - then I am asking you to tear out your heart and live without it.”

Twenty-odd years after Outlander, Claire Randall and her daughter, Brianna, return to the Scottish Highlands. Claire goes to a local historian, Roger, to find out what happened to the men she knew from her time in the 1740’s—and to learn what happened to beloved Jaime Frasier.

I just finished this audiobook, and I’m still scraping myself off the floor. This was a really good book—really long, but really good.

It’s funny; after finishing Outlander, I really had no desire to pursue the story. The book was good, no doubts (Claire was awesome, the chemistry between her and Jaime pretty good, the surroundings amazing), but I was a little disturbed about the focus on abuse and the disappearing plot. Imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, I was craving to read Diana Gabaldon! I have never experienced such a longing to read an author or to go back to a world before (I should probably even amend my Outlander review to include these thoughts!). So I hunted down an audiobook copy (because, damn, does Davina do a brilliant job with this audiobook!) and began.

Boy, was I surprised when the book opened with a third person point of view of a character we’d never seen before with Claire and her 20 year old daughter! I was asking my friends, who had read the books, “Am I reading the right one? What happened to Jaime and Claire?” They told me to hang in there, the book would get to them shortly. And they were right; after about three discs, the book went back to Jaime and Claire and the fun times began again.

Our characters return in all their brilliant glory. In fact, I may love them even more than in the first book, specifically Jaime, whom in Outlander I thought was a decent guy, but here, I really “fell in love” with him. Claire Frasier has got to be one of the best female characters I’ve read. She remains strong-willed, independent, but is still loving, caring, and kind. She doesn’t feel the need to act masculine, nor is she a wimp. With so many books (Breaking Dawn and Shatter Me both come to mind, as I have read both recently) focusing on women who need a man to swoop in a rescue them, it was so nice to see a positive female role model.

Jaime, as I said above, was deliciously charming. I loved his over-protectiveness, and yet he still gave Claire space and respected her, when it wasn’t uncommon for men of the time to treat their wives badly. Sure, there were times he crossed the line, but I think he, overall, was a good example of a man: strong, caring of his wife, but not dominating.

There were tons of other sidelong characters, from Jaime’s sister, Jenny, to Claire’s French friend, Louise, to the little boy that attends Jaime and Claire, Fergus. While I can’t remember all their names, and I often had trouble keeping them straight, they really brought life to the story. Fergus is so adorable; Louise, while “simple”, was a fairly good friend; the Mother from the hospital was another character I really liked. All of them were interesting and didn’t feel clichéd.

What I found remarkable about this book is how Jaime and Claire can be married and are even MORE interesting than when they are single. So many books/series/movies/TV shows base most of their plot on the “will they/won’t they?” but Diana Gabaldon proves that a book can survive without that old plotline. Jaime and Claire are an amazing couple; they have great chemistry, love each other unconditionally (even through a very challenging period, in which they hate each other and are apart for a while!), and work together as a team.

If there are any problems that I had with this installment, it would be with the plot. I didn’t like the opening in modern day; I didn’t like Brianna or Roger. Claire has always been grounded and realistic; she never whined about being ugly, but she never denied she was attractive. Brianna feels like a Mary Sue: she is gorgeous and lovely, intelligent and bewitching. Even given that these descriptions come from Roger’s point of view, it’s still too much. Roger himself is another boring character; he has none of the charm that Jaime has and feels more like a prop, something to hold up the plot.

Back to the plot itself: it was confusing for me (since I didn’t pay attention to the blurb) when I opened the book to be catapulted into “modern day” with a 40-something Claire and her 20 year old daughter. I kept wondering what happened and what I missed. Did I skip a book? If it hadn’t been for my friends, telling me that I was on the right path and would find out shortly, I might have given up reading this all together. The modern day story is boring, constructed only to make finding out what happened “in the past” more interesting and mysterious; only, I wish it had all been jettisoned. Outlander worked fine being all in the past; I’m not sure why the change was made (maybe the mystery thing as I said before?). Even finding out about Geelis at the end didn’t make the modern section any better (though, I did like learning more about her).

Once the plot returns to the 1740’s, it fares much better. It moves along quite nicely, for the most part. I was definitely happy to see the numerous conversations about Jaime’s beatings reduced, along with a few less sexy times (I think the amount here was PERFECT). However, there are parts where the story seems to grind to a halt or just doesn’t go anywhere; it also felt a little too much in places (all the traveling Claire and Jaime do, from Lallybroch to Edinburgh to the front lines, etc.).

Even with its faults, I still enjoyed myself as Davina took me through Scotland. The characters are brilliant, the setting told in amazingly careful detail, and the story was interesting and unique. I don’t know why, but I find myself liking Dragonfly in Amber even more than Outlander. I will definitely be hunting down an audiobook version of Voyager.
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Quotes Crystal Starr Light Liked

Diana Gabaldon
“Blood of my Blood," he whispered, "and bone of my bone. You carry me within ye, Claire, and ye canna leave me now, no matter what happens, You are mine, always, if ye will it or no, if ye want me or nay. Mine, and I wilna let ye go.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon
“For if you feel for me as i do for you - then I am asking you to tear out your heart and live without it.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon
“I will find you," he whispered in my ear. "I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you - then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest."

His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me.

Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon
“We are bound, you and I, and nothing on this earth shall part me from you.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon
“It's only that ye looked so beautiful, wi' the fire on your face, and your hair waving in the wind. I wanted to remember it.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Diana Gabaldon
“Torn between the impulse to stroke his head, and the urge to cave it in with a rock, I did neither.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

Reading Progress

10/18/2011 "Isn't it weird that I thought Outlander was okay (3 stars), but that I am TOTALLY CRAVING Gabaldon???" 3 comments
3.0% "Okay, WTF Happened?!?! Why is Claire back in modern times? Breanna is 20? What? Did I miss a book? I thought Outlander ended with Jaime and Claire in France!!!" 3 comments
5.0% "I wish there was only Claire's first person POV. I liked her view; just can't get into Roger's."
7.0% "Yeah, definitely prefer Jaime/Claire to Bree/Roger"
9.0% "I really appreciate the recap...reminds me of a ton of events from Outlander."
10.0% "Yay! Back to Jaime and Claire! Now I can figure out what happened..."
17.0% "I am seriously beginning to wonder if my 3-star review of "Outlander" was too harsh. I am really enjoying "Dragonfly"!!"
22.0% "Seeing how human Jaime is (i.e. eyeing up another woman) is startlingly refreshing!"
24.0% "Well, I didn't expect Bonnie Prince Charlie to be like that! (Not a bad thing, just different perceptions)"
28.0% "This book is proof positive that married couples are fun and exciting! A plot does NOT require stupid sexual tension in order to be interesting!" 2 comments
32.0% "Must admit, I'm making pretty good progress. Of course, I'm super excited to see what happens next."
33.0% "I love Claire's reaction to Jaime being out all night: realistic and she won't take no crap (even though she loves him all the same). You go, Girl!"
40.0% "I guess I never realized how much it would suck to be raped in this era. As if Mary had had a choice! Bah!"
43.0% "I am SO glad I am listening to this while reading "Breaking Dawn"; it's nice to know there ARE female characters that don't act like idiots."
48.0% ""I had always heretofore assumed that the tendency of 18th century ladies to swoon was due ot tight stays. Now I rather thought it might be due to the idiocy of 18th century men." LOL!! God, Claire, I love you!"
49.0% "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Tell me she didn't lose the baby! Tell me I missed something!!"
52.0% "OMG, I so totally didn't see this coming!! How are they going to get out of this???"
60.0% "You know, when Jaime and Claire say that the other is their world and life, I'm not creeped out like I was with Twilight, I actually get a goofy smile on my face. Goes to show what can happen when you have non-stalker characters with some selfworth."
66.0% "It's getting closer and closer to the battle and Claire returning to her century. :("
67.0% ""Sitting and waiting is one of the most miserable occupations know to man--not that it is usually known to men. Women do it much more often." LOL, brings back memories of waiting, waiting, waiting to pick up Dad, for Dad to get out of the bathroom before church..."
69.0% "Ack, I have a weak glad that the medical stuff is over for the time being (doesn't help that I'm listening to it after having lunch)."
72.0% "I'm grateful for this recap of sorts about Claire and Geelis. I almost forget--it's been long enough since "Outlander""
78.0% "I'm starting to get does Claire end up back in the present day?" 7 comments
81.0% "Whoops, I forgot that Jaime was visiting his dear, old gramps...what a creep!!"
88.0% "OMG! Totally didn't see that happening! Is this the time where Claire returns to the present???"
90.0% "OMG, so THAT is where Frank comes from!!"
92.0% "Oh, I can SMELL how close I am...and the book is REALLY picking up (and I didn't even know it had slackened off!!)!"
94.0% "I want to bawl...I knew it would be heart-breaking, having Jaime and Claire part, but I didn't know it would be this bad!!"
95.0% "Back to modern day. Nowhere as interesting as Jaime/Claire :("
96.0% "Oooh, this is a very interesting discussion of destiny--and how Claire may or may not influence the past. Wish "Time Traveler's Wife" had more of that :P"
98.0% "Huh, this doesn't feel like it's winding down at all. Also, not fond of the new plot so that Roger and Breanna can rub elbows (even if I do love investigating Geelis). They have nowhere near the spark that Breanna's parents have." 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Wendy Darling (new)

Wendy Darling You people and your glowing reviews...I have too many books to read!

Crystal Starr Light Wendy Darling wrote: "You people and your glowing reviews...I have too many books to read!"

LOL, I know what you mean! I think a good 75% of the novels I own I've not read.

Denise I must be the only person who would have liked to have seen some pages devoted to Frank and Claire's life after she returned.

Crystal Starr Light No, I would have liked that too! The pages in "Voyager" weren't enough, and I felt confused. Did they "forgive and forget" or not???

Denise Crystal Starr Light wrote: "No, I would have liked that too! The pages in "Voyager" weren't enough, and I felt confused. Did they "forgive and forget" or not???"

I haven't read Voyager yet. I'll let you know what I think after I read it.

Right now I am reading a time travel book called Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. It is interesting. Have you read it?

Crystal Starr Light Denise wrote: "I haven't read Voyager yet. I'll let you know what I think after I read it.

Right now I am reading a time travel book called Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. It is interesting. Have you read it? "

Please do! I'll be very interested.

I have not read that book yet; I'll have to check it out! Thanks!

Lori Horton I agree with your review as if I had written if myself. From start to finish. Thank you for saving me the time of writing if. That being said, I presume (hope rather) that the reason for the 2nd book starting as it did will be explained in book 3. Since their lives were so dangerous in that era maybe it was a perfect plot device to further their romance in a different time. It jarred the hell out of me tho. And I didn't care for Brianna at all. I'm only on the 2nd chapter of Voyager so we shall see if I am right or not.

Crystal Starr Light Yeah, I'm not so fond of Brianna myself. I like the Jaime/Claire dynamic.

Thanks for your kind words!!

Crystal Dawn I think I'll have to get me some Davina for Voyager. There is something just so mesmerising in her voice. Normally I'm a hater of audiobooks but the sample provided here was amazing.

Crystal Starr Light Davina is the absolute best! She makes Jaime sound completely drool-worthy!

Crystal Dawn It sounds like she would also make Claire so convincing and strong voiced.

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