Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

It’s been a while since I have posted about the Outlander series, but honestly, these books never get old. If you remember when I wrote my Outlander review, I was rereading the books because of season 5. Although season 5 is over, there is still much we can discuss about Dragonfly in Amber and season 2.

The Beginning

The beginning of Season 2 is radically different than that of the book. Instead of starting with Frank and Claire moving to America, Gabaldon takes us to Inverness, 1968. We are introduced to Roger Wakefield, the son of Reverend Wakefield (whom we met in book 1), and Brianna Randall, the daughter of Claire Randall. I actually like this portion more than in the show because Claire begins to tell Brianna about her biological father, James Alexander Malcom McKenzie Fraser. And then the second part of the book takes us back to the 1740s, France.

Dragonfly in Amber: A Novel (Outlander)

The Characters

After Outlander, we get to look at Jamie and Claire’s relationship in a different environment. In France, we saw how the Fraser’s lived as aristocrats while trying to stop Prince Charlie for raising his army. Claire is pregnant and Jamie is still recovering from being tortured by Black Jack Randall. Throughout this book we see how fragile their relationship is but also how strong they both are. They deal with loss and betrayal and still come back to each other at the end of the day. While I don’t want to give too much away since there are still folks who haven’t read the books but have watched the series. It still amazing that their love for each other was so profound that Jamie was willing to give it up to save Claire and Brianna.

‘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.’

Dragonfly in amber, page 889

5 Other Differences

  1. When the book starts in France, Jamie and Claire were already there, they hadn’t just arrived as the show suggests. Their original plan was to travel to Rome but the King had sent a letter ordering Jamie to Paris.
  2. Claire doesn’t find out from Sandringham that Captain Randall is alive. Jamie and Claire find out together.
  3. Mary Hawkins was traveling with Sandringham and her uncle, Silas Hawkins, when Claire and Mary met. She was not staying with Princess Louise de La Tour.
  4. In the middle of the war, Prince Charles sent Jamie and Claire to visit his grandfather, unlike the show where they were sent before the battle of Prestonpans.
  5.  Rupert died in the church after getting shot in the eye. Claire was unable to successfully remove it as shown in the show.

If you are interested in reading the novels, you can purchase them on Amazon or your local third party book seller. You can also watch the series on STARZ. The first three seasons are featured on Netflix. Don’t forget to get caught up on season 5!

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

As a break from the Outlander series, I read the January 2020 Reese’s Book Club pick, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. It is a book about race and white privilege; a book about the labor divide and a semi nuclear family but with two daughters and a “working” mom. Reid writes the book from two points of view but with a third character who is a big part of the story.

The Two Perspectives

Emira is a 25 year old who feels that her job, babysitting for a middle-class white family, is not what an adult should be doing but she loves Briar, the oldest daughter of the Chamberlin’s, the family who hired her. One night, she is asked to pick up Briar and get her out of the house for a little while. She takes her to a grocery store and is immediately accused of kidnapping Briar because she is babysitting while Black. Her perspective on how to handle the situation is not respected because of her employer, Alix Chamberlin.

Alix is the mother of two girls, living a privileged life of a white woman who has her own business. She is trying to write a book, take care of her children, and be a feminist. But her obsession over getting to know Emira gets in the way when she finds out that Emira’s new boyfriend was the boy who “ruined senior year.” In the beginning, I really wanted to like Alix, but as the story progressed, both of the perspectives showed that she was a jealous woman who wanted the days before her children back. Reid writes about these perspectives on Hello Sunshine’s blog.

The Video

Kelley, Emira’s boyfriend, took a video of the incident at the grocery store before they started dating. He wanted her to put it on the internet or send it to news outlets, or use it to sue the store. She however asked that he delete it and never speak of it again after he sent it to her email. I can’t say what I would have done in a situation like this, because I have never been faced with being publicly profiled. However, Emira had every right to decide what she wanted done with it. I liked that she remained calm during the whole exchange and tried to explain to Kelley why she didn’t want to sue or have the video get out, even though all of that was well within her rights.

This story is a great start on the discussion of race, interracial dating, and the division of labor between white women and women of color. It makes you think about situations you may never have been in because of privilege and ones that women of color and people of color face all the time because of their color. And it is also a really fun read. Grab your favorite cup of coffee and a reading buddy and read Such a Fun Age and start a conversation. Share your thoughts with me and check out my review of Outlander.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

In honor of Outlander Season 5 coming to STARZ on February 16, I decided to re-read the Outlander series. Personally, I love these books. The romance, the wanting to change the past for the future, and the daring nature of the Scots bring me so much joy. Here is my take on the book and how Season 1 aligns with the story.

The Characters

The character development in the book is much better than in the TV show. Claire has to adapt to something that is virtually impossible in our world. She doesn’t use much of the 20th century language that she is used to in order to keep her time travel a secret as she realizes she is definitely in the 18th century. As the book progresses, you can tell she becomes more comfortable being in the 18th century, possibly because of her love for Jamie. But I also think it’s because she fits in a little bit more because in the book she says that she has found her place with him and a home at Lallybroch.

As far as Jamie goes, there isn’t a lot of character development for him since he isn’t the main character we are obviously watching. But there is a special not to be taken on him that Gabaldon slightly describes. We know Jamie has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD  from all of his experiences at the hand of Randall (who, by the way is a sadist…this is not about him being gay). I believe Jamie noticed how much pleasure Randall gets from hurting people.  It can mess with your psyche to realize that about someone. I think, as the series progresses, this is something to watch about his character and how he handles certain situations because of it.

Jamie’s Treatment of Claire

When reading this book, I looked at some reviews and there were a lot of points about how Jamie whipped Claire, and this should be seen as domestic abuse and had many people put the book down. Obviously, this was not the case at all as domestic abuse isn’t a one-time thing. People who have been through domestic violence can tell you this. The 18th century was misogynistic, to say the least. It was thought that women were only good for breeding and that men should have all the power. The 20th century wasn’t much different, but women were able to have jobs and had the ability to have their own money in a way the 18th century never had.

When you’re looking at what Jamie did from a 21st century lens, you’re completely missing that she is in a different time period that he was raised in. Jamie was raised to that it was the man’s duty to punish not just his children, but also his wife. Compared to other relationships in the book, Jamie treated Claire like a queen after this one mistake.  Which he realized quickly that it was a mistake and made sure he would never lay a hand on her again. It wasn’t a power move like domestic violence really is.

The Ending

It’s important to recognize that in the 1700s, the terms “sadist” and “homosexual”, as well as “heterosexual” didn’t exist. This doesn’t mean that sadists didn’t exist, and we know that there were gay men in that time. People who don’t get through the entire series don’t see that Johnathon Randall didn’t just inflict pain on men, but also women. Sadists take sexual pleasure in inflicting pain on others. This is what people reading the book forget. They see a man who may or may not be attracted to men and think Gabaldon is using homosexuality as an excuse to inflict pain. But it’s not. You haven’t met Lord John yet if you haven’t read the whole series. 

Another thing is the ending shows much more about Claire’s personal struggle with coming through the stones. Her conversation with Father Anslem shows that struggle and she realized that there is no use in struggling anymore because she made her choice for the man she loves. Yes, she loved Frank Randall, that is why she keeps his ring. But her love for Jamie is different. The power of absolution works for her even though she will still have to struggle to find a way to stop Culloden and the slaughtering go the clans.

The TV Show

I love the show, although there are a lot of things that are different about the plot that I dislike, and I know it is because of the drama. 

  1. The conversation with Lord Thomas never happened and Randall never described his sadism to Claire, Dougal did. 
  2. The Watch was never watching over Lallybroch and Jamie didn’t give people back the rent.
  3. Geillis didn’t tell Claire about what time she was from or that it may be possible to go back through the stones, Dougal did.
  4. Angus was a secondary character. He wasn’t part of Dougal’s gang or Rupert’s best friend.
  5. The incident with Black Jack Randall had way more torture involved, which is why I would call Randall a sadist.

There are many more differences and it would take an entirely new post to name them all, but these are the most important ones to me. 

I can’t wait to re-read Dragonfly in Amber next and tell you all about my thoughts and I hope you follow along. Until next time, avid readers!