Outlander Book Club – “Lallybroch” & “The Search”

Sorry this edition of Outlander Book Club is a little late. The Holiday really decreased the amount of available time I had to work this week! However, it’s here now, and I’m a excited to talk about it with you fine people. The prodigal son returns this week, and in true Outlander style, Jamie’s homecoming is fraught with all the turmoil and drama of a long-running Soap on day-time TV. I can’t wait to break it all down for you, so let’s get started!!

Chapter 26 – The Laird’s Return

Jamie and Claire have conquered the last of their divisions. They are together–heart and soul, and now they are off to face Jamie’s family, hopefully to heal those divides as well. As they travel, they begin to share things about their lives that had previously remained unsaid. Claire tells tales of tanks, planes, automobiles, and all the conveniences of modern life. Jamie listens in rapture; the world his wife describes is no more realistic to him than the setting of a fairy tale. It must certainly seem fictitious: hot water at your fingertips, devices that carry you a distance in an hour that would take an entire day, week, or month by horseback…it’s all rather spectacular to the average 18th-century resident. Perhaps most awe-inspiring of them all, is the idea of inoculation. With the prick of a needle, someone can be protected from the mystery of illness and disease.

Bereft at the idea of her friend burning at the stake, Jamie tells Claire she shouldn’t mourn her too much, considering the woman is a murderess. To which Claire says, “I see your murderess comment, and I’ll raise you embezzlement and and witchcraft.”

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


“I still dinna understand why she should kill him, though,” he said, shaking his head in puzzlement. “He had money, a good position. And I doubt he beat her.”

I looked at him in exasperated amazement.

“And that’s your definition of a good husband?”

“Well…yes,” he said, frowning. “What else might she want?”

“What else?” I was so taken aback, I just looked at him for a moment, then slid down on the grass and started to laugh.

“What’s funny? I thought this was murder.” He smiled, though, and put an arm around me.

“I was thinking,” I said, still snorting a bit, “if your definition of a good husband is one with money and position who doesn’t beat his wife…what does that make you?”

“Oh,” he said. He grinned. “Well, Sassenach, I never said I was a good husband. Neither did you. ‘Sadist,’ I think ye called me, and a few other things that I wouldna repeat for the sake of decency. But not a good husband.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

It’s been four years since Jamie and Jenny have seen each other, and the memories they have from that encounter aren’t pleasant ones. The last time Jamie saw Jenny, she was walking into the house with Captain Jack Randall to offer him “better entertainment”. Those memories along with Jack Randall’s own account of what happened, and Dougal MacKenzie’s tale of a bastard child have given Jamie not only an immense sense of guilt, but feelings of shame and anger as well. So when the Fraser siblings are finally reunited it is a meeting brimming with both joy and sorrow. Confusion and misinformation have led Jamie down an extremely dangerous road, and rather than giving his sister time to explain– he simply starts hurling slanderous comments that insult both Jenny’s intelligence and her honor.

Jenny’s young son, and the child she is currently carrying are not Black Jack Randall’s, but her husband’s — whom Jamie doesn’t know about because he didn’t give 10 seconds before jumping from “Wow Sis, it’s so good to see you,” to “I can’t believe you’re such a whore as to have not 1 but 2 illegitimate children”. Holy Lord, Jamie… How about you shut your trap and let Jenny talk?? Apparently Jenny is of the same mind.

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


She eyed her brother, standing at the window with his legs braced wide apart, hands on the sill and back stubbornly set against her. She bit her lip and a calculating look came over her face. Quick as lightning, she stooped and her hand shot under his kilt like a striking snake.

Jamie let out a roar of sheer outrage and stood bolt upright with shock. He tried to turn, then froze as she apparently tightened her grip.

“There’s men as are sensible,” she said to me, with a wicked smile, “and beasts as are biddable. Others ye’ll do nothing with, unless ye have ‘em by the ballocks. Now, ye can listen to me in a civil way,” she said to her brother, “or I can twist a bit. Hey?”

He stood still, red-faced, breathing heavily through clenched teeth. “I’ll listen,” he said, “and then I’ll wring your wee neck, Janet! Let me go!”

No sooner did she oblige than he whirled on her.

“What in hell d’ye think you’re doing?” he demanded. “Tryin’ to shame me before my own wife?” Jenny was not fazed by his outrage. She rocked back on her heels, viewing her brother and me sardonically.

“Weel, and if she’s your wife, I expect she’s more familiar wi’ your balls than what I am. I havena seen them myself since ye got old enough to wash alone. Grown a bit, no?”

Jamie’s face went through several alarming transformations, as the dictates of civilized behavior struggled with the primitive impulse of a younger brother to clout his sister over the head.

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

The Fraser siblings are sublime to read: all fire and wit. I absolutely love their relationship. There are not barriers between Jamie and Jenny, and in the true nature of siblings that grew up in a close relationship, they perhaps know each other better than even their spouses. And while their Fraser half allows them to love deeply and passionately, it also provides for one HELL of a blow out. In this particular instance, Jamie is hurling insults like nobody’s business, and I can’t blame Jenny for her anger.

Let’s be honest, I probably would have slapped my brother across the face too if he’d insinuated I’d taken Black Jack Randall as a lover. He’s being a jackass, and in his rash behavior, we have one of our only REAL glimpses at Jamie’s youth and inexperience. Of course Jenny holds her own. As Claire notes, she’s a slower burn, but her fury is no less explosive, so when both brother and sister reach boiling point, Claire wisely decides to bow out.

Of course for every fast and furious Fraser, there has to be a counterbalance. Cue Ian Murray, perhaps one of my favorite characters in the Outlander Universe. He’s sweet, kind, patient, soft-spoken, and incredibly direct. Much like Claire is the jelly to Jamie’s peanut butter, Ian is the gravy to Jenny’s mashed potatoes… and as I’m starting to make myself hungry, let’s jump past the analogies… All I’m saying is, both of these hot-heads need someone to be a calming, soothing presence. While I wouldn’t necessarily call Claire “calm and soothing”, she’s always there to hand Jamie a dram of whisky when he needs it, and let’s face it, sometimes that’s better than a little aloe vera on the sun burn of life.

With the referees finally present to ensure a fair fight, Jamie and Jenny are finally forced to listen to one another, and the truth comes out. Jenny wasn’t raped, in fact, much like Claire’s experience with BJR, Randall was incapable, and took out his anger by beating the piss out of Jenny before absconding with her brother. Jenny, likewise had already heard about the horrors her brother endured. When Jamie finally admits he was wrong, Jenny seems dissatisfied. All she really wants is to see the scars on Jamie’s back. It’s a raw spot for Jamie. He doesn’t like for anyone to see the marks left by 200 lashes, but finally concedes in bad grace. Is it just me, or does that seem like the least he could do after calling his sister a fast and loose woman?

Regardless, concede he does, and when Jenny sees her brother’s once smooth creamy back marred and mottled with scar tissue, it shakes her a bit. She asks if he cried. Grudgingly, he admits that he did, but rather than giving him difficulty, Jenny merely looks at him and admits she has cried every day since he was taken, and has been waiting for him to return.

Chapter 27 – The Last Reason

Jenny is a big sister, through and through. She looks out for her brother whether he desires it or not, and his new wife is no exception to that rule. Claire and Jenny spend all day together, quietly tiptoeing around touchy subjects, and placing critical subtext beneath seemingly casual words. The delightful part of this conversation, is that Claire doesn’t shy away from Jenny’s protective nature, but embraces it — eager to make her new sister-in-law understand she isn’t completely useless. She is intelligent, a healer, and most importantly, in love with Jamie. Slowly, but surely, the two women warm to each other, understanding that their mutual hesitation is born out of affection for the same man, rather than dislike of each other.

Jamie and Claire are the type of people that can walk into a room and make conversation with anyone in it. It is one of the things that make them such great protagonists. It doesn’t matter what age, race, gender, or position their companion inhabits, they are able to converse, learn, entertain, or in some instances, teach. One of my favorite instances of this is Jamie, teaching his young nephew how to pee standing up. It’s such a great scene, and reminds me greatly of another scene thirty years on between Jamie and another young boy — equally as important, but definitely in the spoiler zone, sooooo…. Moving on!

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


“Dinna worrit yourself, man,” said Jamie’s voice. “You’ll learn. It’s a bit difficult, isn’t it, when your cock doesna stick out any further than your belly button?”

I stuck my head around the corner, to find him seated on a chopping block, engaged in converse with his namesake, who was struggling manfully with the folds of his smock.

“What are you doing with the child?” I inquired cautiously.

“I’m teachin’ young James here the fine art of not pissing on his feet,” he explained. “Seems the least his uncle could do for him.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Talk is cheap. Seems the least his uncle could do is show him.”

He grinned. “Well, we’ve had a few practical demonstrations. Had a wee accident last time, though.” He exchanged accusatory looks with his nephew. “Dinna look at me,” he said to the boy. “It was all your fault. I told ye to keep still.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

Reading this scene makes me wonder who taught Jamie the “fine art of not pissing on his feet”… perhaps his older brother, Willie? It’s clear from the conversation Jamie and Claire have while Jamie is showing her around Lallybroch that Jamie misses his older brother dearly. They were best friends, and I often find myself contemplating what the story of Jamie and Claire would look like if Willie had survived his battle with smallpox all those years ago. Would Claire and Jamie have ever met in the first place? It’s crazy to think how one event can have a domino effect on so many lives. It’s as Jamie contemplates this crazy life he has, that he reveals his true reasons for marrying Claire.

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


Staring absently out at the driving rain, he said, “There was another reason. The main one.”

“Reason?” I said stupidly.

“Why I married you.”

“Which was?” I don’t know what I expected him to say, perhaps some further revelation of his family’s contorted affairs. What he did say was more of a shock in its way.

“Because I wanted you.” He turned from the window to face me. “More than I ever wanted anything in my life,” he added softly.

I continued staring at him, dumbstruck. Whatever I had been expecting, it wasn’t this. Seeing my openmouthed expression, he continued lightly. “When I asked my Da how ye knew which was the right woman, he told me when the time came, I’d have no doubt. And I didn’t. When I woke in the dark under that tree on the road to Leoch, with you sitting on my chest, cursing me for bleeding to death, I said to myself, ‘Jamie Fraser, for all ye canna see what she looks like, and for all she weighs as much as a good draft horse, this is the woman.’ ”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

Jamie Fraser married for love, ladies and gents… and how freaking adorable is that? To paraphrase Brian Fraser, sometimes you just know, and Jamie isn’t one to ignore his father’s advice. The only reason he didn’t say anything to Claire before now is because he knew she didn’t feel the same way. Claire has a glass face, and Jamie is perceptive on his worst day. It didn’t take a genius to read the situation, and the last thing Jamie wanted was to make a not-so-ideal situation even worse. He could easily see that marriage wasn’t what Claire wanted. He didn’t want to burden her with his feelings, and guilt her into something she didn’t truly desire in her heart. So he bided his time, and OF COURSE she came around. I’d be questioning her sanity if she hadn’t.

Chapter 28 – Kisses and Drawers

Brian Fraser seems like the most amazing father. He was able to impart wisdom to his teenage son in a way that truly stuck with Jamie — so much so that nine years on, Jamie can remember the exact conversation. Brian wasn’t naïve. He knew that his son, like any teenage boy, had cravings. However, he handled that situation in a way that taught Jamie a life long lesson: “You are responsible for any seed you sow.” Of course this was meant in terms of “any children you sire are your responsibility, and you have to man up and ensure their welfare”, but I think it goes deeper than that.

Brian was also teaching his son, that whatever choices you make in life, make them with intention not impulse. Because decisions made in haste can sometimes be the ones that impact your life the most. Brian wanted for his son, what he had with Ellen, and if that meant Jamie had to self-abuse himself instead of taking satisfaction with some unassuming lassie well…so be it. What’s one more sin to a sinner, eh?

Jamie and Claire share such a close relationship at this point in the story that it’s easy to forget, there is A LOT they don’t know about each other. The story of their first kisses is something completely endearing, and quite frankly, utterly terrifying in Jamie’s case. I suppose fourteen-year-old Jamie probably wasn’t thinking about Tabitha’s father’s reaction to their little tête-à-tête… I guess it goes without saying that he probably should have. If it’s one talent Dougal MacKenzie has, it’s the ability to put the fear of God into just about anyone, especially a young lad just finding his stride as a man of vim and vigor of the …er… hormonal variety, shall we say? As Claire puts it, “A memorable first experience.”

Of course, Jamie takes the cake on this conversation with the immortal words, “You werena the first lass I kissed, but I swear you’ll be the last.” ALL THE GOLD STARS for that one. One of these days, I’m going to get busy and create a list of the most romantic Jamie quotes… excuse me real quick while I jot down that idea for a future blog entry.

Okay, I’m back. Soooo let’s discuss Jamie’s fathers knickers. Red plaid? Really Brian? I just found this entire situation completely hilarious. Well… until the redcoats showed up. They kind of have a tendency to pee in everybody’s Wheaties… The thing that stood out to me the most in this scene at the mill, besides the extreme danger of Jamie being anywhere near Lallybroch, is how much Jamie was meant for this life. The life of a laird. He’s been groomed for the position since her was eight years old. He knows his responsibilities, and throws himself into the care of the estate with gusto. Whether the situation calls for settling a tenant dispute or mending the water wheel at the mill, Jamie is ready for it. It’s such a shame, that he and Claire can’t live happily ever after at Lallybroch. I mean, if I’m being honest, I would read that book. Who needs adventure? Sometimes I just want the happy ending!

Chapter 29 – More Honesty

If Jamie was raised to be the laird of Broch Tuarach, Ian Murray was raised to be his right hand man. His father was the factor, or caretaker, of the estate — a role that his son Ian inherited upon his death. Jamie and Ian were thick as thieves, always getting into trouble. According to Ian, Jamie was always arguing his case, trying to get out of his punishment, but generally making it worse for all parties involved. Why this doesn’t surprise me, I’m not really sure, and this little story genuinely makes me appreciate Brian Fraser as a parent. He let Jamie have his say, and then passed judgement. I think it taught Jamie a respect for others in the long run.

After Jamie was arrested and Brian died, Jenny was left on her own to manage the entire estate of Broch Tuarach by herself. A young girl, in her early 20s, Jenny had run the house since her mother passed away ten years earlier, and with Ian having been raised to deal with the tenants and upkeep of the property as a whole, it leaves little to the imagination when concluding how these two ended up together. I think Jamie sees that as well, and realizes Ian is a good match for his older sister, which is why he takes no issue with their marriage, despite not asking for his blessing. After all, it was kind of hard to track him down in the interim… it’s not like they had cell phones…

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


“She came up to me out in the field one day, while I was tryin’ to mend a wagon that sprang its wheel. I crawled out, all covered wi’ muck, and found her standin’ there looking like a bush covered wi’ butterflies. She looks me up and down and she says–” He paused and scratched his head. “Weel, I don’t know exactly what she said, but it ended with her kissing me, muck notwithstanding, and saying, ‘Fine, then, we’ll be married on St. Martin’s Day.” He spread his hands in comic resignation. “I was still explaining why we couldna do any such thing, when I found myself in front of a priest, saying, ‘I take thee, Janet’ … and swearing to a lot of verra improbable statements.”

Jamie rocked back in his seat, laughing.

“Aye, I ken the feeling,” he said. “Makes ye feel a bit hollow, no?”

Ian smiled, embarrassment forgotten. “It does and all. I still get that feeling, ye know, when I see Jenny sudden, standing against the sun on the hill, or holding wee Jamie, not lookin’ at me. I see her, and I think, ‘God, man, she can’t be yours, not really.’” He shook his head, brown hair flopping over his brow. “And then she turns and smiles at me…” He looked up at his brother-in-law, grinning.

“Weel, ye know yourself. I can see it’s the same wi’ you and your Claire. She’s… something special, no?”

Jamie nodded. The smile didn’t leave his face, but altered somehow.

“Aye,” he said softly. “Aye, she is that.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

Jamie is glad to be home. There is something about him that just seems lighter in these few chapters at Lallybroch. He’s happy, surrounded by his family, and doing the job he was born to do. The only thing that can penetrate through his happy haze is mention of his father. Jamie blames himself for Brian’s death. It’s hard to believe anyone wouldn’t have a stroke and fall dead after watching their son suffer 100 lashes with a cat of nine tails, so Jamie’s self blame isn’t unreasonable. But ever the big sister, Jenny is ready to shoulder at least part of this burden, and finally comes clean with her own guilt.

If Jamie pissed off Black Jack by denying him, then Jenny did the same in equal measure. When Jack took Jenny up to the bedroom with rape on his mind, Jenny was at a loss. She had never been with a man, and while she had a fair knowledge of male anatomy and how it worked, she was scared, and racing for some answer as to what she should do. So, when Jack was struggling to ready himself, all she could do was laugh. And being the strong-headed woman that she is, she wasn’t about to let him intimidate her into submission; so she laughed some more — taunted and jeered, smirked, and humiliated Jack in only the way Jenny Murray could. Her audience was horrified as they learned the full story behind what happened on that fateful day. Jamie, knowing what BJR is capable of, can’t believe she would take such risks, and that she lived to tell the tale.

But perhaps this admittance of the full story is what both Fraser siblings needed to recognize the truth of the matter. Jonathan Randall is a sick and twisted bastard, and if anyone is at fault in the whole damn mess, it’s him. So with this revelation, Jamie and Jenny are finally able to forgive themselves and each other.

Chapter 30 – Conversations by the Hearth

Sitting by the fire, relaxing and sharing stories is how the Fraser/Murray clan unwinds after a long day of running Broch Tuarach. And let me just say, only Diana Gabaldon could make the description of full-term pregnancy erotic. I mean, I feel like I should avert my eyes or something as Jenny describes in full detail just what the experience of carrying a child is like. Apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way as both couples have a romp between the sheets after story time. The sensory descriptors in this section were electrifying. Diana is really at her best when using her Rule of Three — which is simply the combination of any three senses to fully immerse the audience in the book they are reading.

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


“Do you think Jenny’s right?” I asked later. “Do men really want to come back inside? Is that why you make love to us?” A breath of laughter stirred the hair by my ear.

“Well, it’s no usually the first thing in my mind when I take ye to bed, Sassenach. Far from it. But then…” His hands cupped my breasts softly, and his lips close on one nipple. “I’d no just say she was completely wrong either. Sometimes…aye, sometimes it would be good, to be inside again, safe and…one. Knowing we cannot, I suppose, is what makes us want to beget. If we cannot go back ourselves, the best we can do is to give that precious gift to our sons, at least for a little while…” He shook himself suddenly, like a dog flinging water from its coat.

“Pay me no mind, Sassenach,” he murmured. “I get verra maudlin, drinking elderberry wine.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

Chapter 31 – Quarter Day

Murtagh is such an integral part of the Outlander TV series that it’s easy for me to forget his role isn’t nearly as crucial to the plot in the books. Of course he does pop in from time to time — transmitting information like a humanoid homing pigeon. In this instance, he comes bearing gifts: Claire’s belongings from Leoch and the story of what happened when Claire was arrested for witchcraft.

Mrs. Fitz was the first to notice something was amiss, and while Colum was content to lock the castle gates and let fate run its course, Mistress Fitzgibbons was not about to let that behavior slide. After all the maids had turned the castle and its grounds upside down in search of Claire, Mrs. Fitz made Colum’s life a living hell until he did something. When Colum’s man returned from the village with the news that Claire had been arrested alongside Geillis, Ned Gowan volunteered to intercede — it was too late for Colum to do anything. The Ecclesiastical Examiners had already arrived. A cluster f***, if ever I saw one…

Back at Lallybroch, the laird and the lady folk are hatching a plan to save poor wee Rabbie McNab from the clutches of his abusive father. In Chapter 28: Kisses and Drawers, Grannie McNab reached an agreement with Jamie through ignoble means (i.e. keeping him unclothed in the frozen water of the mill pond until he agreed to hire her grandson on as a stable lad), but of course, Jamie couldn’t pull the metaphorical trigger until he was sure the stories were true, and Ronald really was using his son as a punching bag.

Cue Jenny and Claire. When they pull off the boys shirt to reveal bruises and scabs of all sizes and colors, it becomes abundantly clear that the child isn’t just the recipient of discipline, but the victim of cruelty. With a few words and a bit of ‘gentle’ persuasion, Jamie finally secures the boy, and in the process, unleashes a vicious chain of consequences that we will see play out over the remainder of the book.

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


“I’m glad you managed it,” I said, taking Jamie’s arm to go in to supper. “With little Rabbie McNab, I mean. How did you do it, though?”

He shrugged. “Took Ronald back of the brewhouse and fisted him once or twice in the soft parts. Asked him did he want to part wi’ his son or his liver.” He glanced down at me, frowning.

“It wasna right, but I couldn’t think what else to do. And I didna want the lad to go back wi’ him. It wasn’t only I’d promised his grannie, either. Jenny told me about the lad’s back.” He hesitated. “I’ll tell ye, Sassenach. My father whipped me as often as he thought I needed it, and a lot oftener than I thought I did. But I didna cower when he spoke to me. And I dinna think young Rabbie will lie in bed with his wife one day and laugh about it.”

He hunched his shoulders, with that odd half-shrug, something I hadn’t seen him do in months.

“He’s right; the lad’s his own son, he can do as he likes. And I’m not God; only the laird, and that’s a good bit lower down. Still…” He looked down at me with a crooked half-smile.

“It’s a damn thin line between justice and brutality, Sassenach. I only hope I’ve come down on the right side of it.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

In the growing dusk of twilight, Jamie and Claire have a quiet moment together after the long day of meeting with tenants and entertaining guests. One of the things I love most about Outlander is how much opportunity is given for the characters to breathe and grow. This is one of those moments. There is no shot of adrenaline to the plot: no explosions or action sequences, just a moment of grace between a man and woman, and the touching acknowledgement of their love for one another. We’ve known it all along. The love Jamie and Claire have for one another is EPIC, but it also frightens Claire. She’s never had feelings this strong for anyone before — even Frank, and she’s scared that if she lets herself fall, she’ll never stop. She’s been holding on for dear life over the course of the last ten chapters, and in this one moment, she decides to let go. It’s a huge moment for these two, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Chapter 32 – Hard Labor

Jamie and Claire finally feel like they have found a home. Surrounded by their tenants and family, Lallybroch is where they both want to be, but the longer they spend at Broch Tuarach, the more likely it is they will be found by the red coat patrols across the Highlands. It’s not what anyone wants, but for the safety of everyone involved, it is time for them to move on. For Claire, this realization is made even more bittersweet as she is finally accepted by Jenny as one of the family. One night at dinner, in the middle of the harvest season, Jamie and Ian are so exhausted they fall asleep at the dinner table. As Jenny says, it’s no wonder so few babies are born in July, when the men can’t stay awake long enough in November to perform their husbandly duties…

All joking aside, Jenny finally accepts Claire hook, line, and sinker as part of the family, when she sees Jamie smile in his sleep at Claire’s touch. It’s something he hasn’t done since he was a small child — the last time he was carefree and happy. And if one woman, no matter her origins, can give her brother happiness in a life fraught with peril, then who is she to stand in the way?

On the day Jamie and Claire are due to depart for destinations unknown, their trip is delayed because Jenny has gone into labor, and it is a hard labor — thus the title of this chapter. The baby is in the wrong position, and is not arriving as it should. Luckil,y an experienced midwife is to hand, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier for Ian, who has to spend most of the day drunk to cope with the seemingly endless screams of his wife. When it’s all said and done, Margaret Ellen Murray has come into the world, and both mother and baby are well.

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


“Perhaps it’s as well,” Jamie said slowly, as though to himself.

“What’s as well?”

“That you’re barren.” He couldn’t see my face, buried in his chest, but he must have felt me stiffen.

“Aye, I knew that long ago. Geillis Duncan told me, soon after we wed.” He stroked my back gently. “I regretted it a bit at first, but then I began to think it was as well; living as we must, it would be verra difficult if you were to get with child. And now–” he shivered slightly– “now I think I am glad of it; I wouldna want ye to suffer that way.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” I said, after a long while, thinking of the rounded, fuzzy head and tiny fingers.

“I would.” He kissed the top of my head. “I saw Ian’s face; it was like his own flesh was being torn, each time Jenny screamed.” My arms were around him, stroking the ridged scars on his back. “I can bear pain, myself,” he said softly, “but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

Jamie has always wanted to be a father. It’s something he’s always imagined for himself, and never questioned as a path in life. So, when Geillis told him Claire was incapable of having children, that had to be devastating. I’m not sure keeping those feelings from Claire was the best move in the way of marital honesty, but let’s not quibble over the details. My point is, there is nothing in life Jamie fears more than losing Claire, and after spending the whole day watching Ian go through an approximate summation of Jamie’s own worst nightmare, he has come to a conclusion that is both heartbreaking and endearing. He has made his peace with never having children–not so much because of what Geillis Duncan told him, but because he doesn’t want to see Claire suffer.

Chapter 33 – The Watch

Remember that “vicious chain of consequences” I was referring to in Chapter 31: Quarter Day? Well hold on tight spider monkey… Jamie has been betrayed to The Watch by Ronald McNab. It’s a bit of a leap across the line if you ask me, but then again, I am talking about what seems reasonable to a man that beats his child for kicks and giggles. I’m not typically the vengeful sort, but I can’t help but think he got what was coming to him as Murtagh tells Jenny that Lallybroch’s tenants took matters into their own hands when they heard what happened to Jamie.

When Ian manages a horse and arrives back at Lallybroch, it doesn’t take long for Jenny and Claire to hatch a plan and go in search of Jamie. They search a day and a night and FINALLY find The Watch, but Jamie is no where in sight. Can I just take a moment to admire the metaphorical balls on Jenny Fraser Murray… I mean she is made of a different kind of metal than most. This young woman grew up in a time where rape, assault, and abuse were all regular occurences, and yet, she still finds it in herself to leave her husband, her son, and her newborn daughter to go in search of her captive younger brother — not for the faint of heart my friends!

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


From the vantage point to which she led me, on a small ledge overlooking the ford, we could see almost all of the men of the Watch, mostly dismounted and talking in casual groups, some sitting on the ground eating, some leading the horses in groups of two and three to the water. What we couldn’t see was Jamie.

“Do you suppose they’ve killed him?” I whispered in panic. I had counted every man twice, to be sure I had missed no one. There were twenty men and twenty-six horses; all in plain view, so far as I could see. But no hint of a prisoner, and no telltale gleam of sun on red hair.

“I doubt it,” Jenny answered. “But there’s only one way to find out.” She began to squirm backward from the ledge.

“What’s that?”


[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

I believe I may have mentioned it before either in The Sassenach Files Podcast or in a previous Outlander Book Club entry, but Jamie Fraser is a very hard man to kill, and this particular run in with authority is no exception. As they crossed a particularly deep part of a stream, Jamie threw himself off of his horse and took refuge in the deep pool until The Watch gave up — thinking they had killed him by shooting into the water. Jenny and Claire are able to track him, finding the leather cord that had bound his wrists, and following crushed vegetation up the hillside into the heather until the trail went cold. Jamie is injured and on the run, but he’s alive, and as Murtagh catches up with our heroines late on the second night of searching, that is all that matters.

Chapter 34 – Dougal’s Story

The search for Jamie takes Murtagh and Claire all over the Highlands in the OG version of Clanlands — gotta give a shout out to my boys Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish *wink wink. They travel slow and openly with Claire healing people as they go, relying on word of mouth to find Jamie when they stumble upon a band of gypsies who give them companionship and food which Claire isn’t about to turn her nose up at. As it turns out, these gypsies are the break they have been waiting for, as they find Murtagh and Claire only two days later with a message.

Unfortunately, it’s not the news they had hoped for. When Claire enters the unsuspecting cave under cover of darkness, she does indeed find a tall, strapping Scotsman, but unfortunately this one doesn’t have flaming hair and go by the name Fraser. Nope, it’s MacKenzie. Dougal MacKenzie. Sorry… I can’t resist a good James Bond reference when it presents itself… And while we could all hold out hope for approximately ten seconds, Claire isn’t the only one with a ball of ice in her stomach when Dougal starts talking. Man, does this guy ever come bearing good news? Just curious. Asking for a friend…

The long and the short of it is this. Jamie has been captured and, having stood trial in Wentworth Prison two days ago, is condemned to hang… Of course there’s no set date for his execution. Why on earth would Diana Gabaldon be so kind as to give a girl SOME sort of deadline? Jesus H Roosevelt Christ… But let’s put all of that frustration on hold to talk about something else that’s frustrating — namely Dougal making a pass at Claire. I’m sorry… WHAT?! I can’t believe Claire held her cool like she did. Pretty sure I would have slapped Dougal at the first seductive caress… EW…. It’s at this point in the story that we can, if not forgive Dougal for being somewhat less than a decent human being, at least forget it for a moment as we focus on the other important details that closed off several loose ends.

First, Geillis Duncan is dead: dipped feet first in a barrel of pitch, placed in the center of a pyre of smoldering peats, and consumed by the flames. A bit biblical for my tastes, but I’m sure it’s historically accurate. She was allowed to live long enough to give birth to her and Dougal’s son. As Dougal came to remove the child and take it to it’s adoptive parents, Geillis gave Dougal a message that was to be conveyed to Claire verbatim. “I think it is possible.” and “1-9-6-7”. Geillis came through the stones in 1967, and if you think we’ve heard the last of this as readers, well, you don’t know our beloved author very well. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that…

Second, and I’ll only mention it briefly because it’s not technically NEW news, Dougal has admitted he is Hamish’s biological father. If there is one thing we can say about the younger MacKenzie it’s that he is loyal to his brother — perhaps to the point of fault. So when Colum comes to him with any problem, he sets out to remedy it. Can’t go into battle in your feeble state? I’ll be your War Chief. Needs someone to collect the rents and deal with disputes? Consider it handled. Having trouble procreating? No worries, bro. Tell Letitia where my room is. *Face palm. Someone should really break it to these two that even “brotherly love” needs boundaries.

Photo Credit: Outlander-Online


Jamie. The thought of him was a leaden weight in my mind, a pendulum swinging slowly at the end of a rope. Not long. The road stretched endless and dreary before us, sometimes petering out altogether into frozen marshes or open sheets of water that had once been meadows and moors. In a freezing drizzle that would soon turn to snow, we reached our goal near evening of the second day.

The building loomed up black against the overcast sky. Built in the shape of a gigantic cube, four hundred feet on a side, with a tower on each corner, it could house three hundred prisoners, plus the forty soldiers of the garrison and their commander, the civilian governor and his staff, and the four dozen cooks, orderlies, grooms, and other menials necessary for the running of the establishment, Wentworth Prison.

I looked up at the menacing walls of greenish Argyll granite, two feet thick at the base. Tiny windows pierced the walls here and there. A few were beginning to wink with light. Others, serving what I assumed were the prisoners’ cells, stayed dark. I swallowed. Seeing the massive edifice, with it impenetrable walls, its monumental gate, and its red-coated guards, I began to have doubts.

“What if” — my mouth was dry and I had to stop and lick my lips — “what if we can’t do it?”

Murtagh’s expression was the same as always: grim-mouthed and dour, narrow chin receding into the grimy neck of his shirt. It didn’t alter as he turned to me.

“Then Dougal will bury us wi’ him, one on either side,” he answered. “Come on, there’s work to be done.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

At the end of this madness, though, Claire and Murtagh have what they want: Dougal backed into a corner. And when they leave the next day for Wentworth Prison, they have a chunk of change and five of Dougal’s best men — all going of their own free will. I guess Jamie is more popular than Dougal thought. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. MacKenzie! Now there’s just the minor wee detail of actually getting Jamie out of prison… but we’ll save that for next week when we conclude Outlander Book Club with Part Seven: “Sanctuary”.

Until next time, Cheers!!

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