Outlander Book Club – “Sanctuary”

Welcome back for the finale of Outlander Book Club!! This week it’s all about Part Seven: “Sanctuary”. All eight novels of the Outlander series are absolute roller coaster rides, but the last few chapters of book one are something special in the way of emotional torment. Jamie is in the clutches of The British and has been sentenced to hang. Claire and her band of Highlanders are headed to the rescue. Will they make it in time to save Jamie from the noose? Hmmmm… I don’t know. Keep reading to find out… *wink wink.

Chapter 35 – Wentworth Prison

Half the battle is won. Claire and her merry band made it to Wentworth in time. Jamie is alive. I say half the battle, but really it’s more like a quarter or an eighth of the battle… Even if Claire can find a way past the warden, Sir Fletcher, she still has to find a way to infiltrate the medieval fortress undetected with armed soldiers standing guard, and over 300 prisoners on the premises. It’s no easy feat, but never the less our heroine is prepared to don her superwoman cape and charge into the fray. Claire is set on her course to save Jamie or die trying, but it still hurts my soul to read the scene where she is presented with his personal effects. Jamie has refused to give his next of kin to the authorities — he doesn’t want to involve his family in the messy business of his execution, and when Claire hugs that box to her chest, recalling what is inside, it is all she can do to keep on her feet and not break down. Despite her perseverance, the idea that this tiny box is all she will have left of her soul mate is devastating.

Eventually, by sheer force of will, Claire finds Jamie, and when she does, all she can see is red. Jamie’s hand has been savagely mutilated to an unrecognizable pulp, smashed into oblivion by the business end of a wooden mallet. The words “I’m going to kill him for this,” come out of her mouth in a voice she doesn’t recognize as her own. It’s not the voice of Claire Beauchamp: The Healer, that has just spoken. It’s the voice of Claire Fraser; the woman who would do anything to protect her husband, up to and including murder, which she’s already committed once today, so why not twice? And Jamie, despite being nearly incapacitated by the pain of his injuries, finds a moment to attempt a wee joke: “I’ll hold your cloak, Sassenach.”

When Jack Randall shows back up as Claire tries to free Jamie, an already horrific situation goes from bad to worse. Jamie is unconscious after an accidental whack to the ankle as Claire tried to spring the lock of his shackle, and now Claire finds herself a prisoner of BJR alongside her husband. You see, Captain Jonathan Wolverton Randall has a decent memory, and isn’t likely to forget all the drama leading up to this moment. He still wants to know who Claire is, who she is working for, and why she is in Scotland. In exchange for this information, Jack is willing to make a deal and take her to the warden for arrest and punishment versus taking care of the matter himself — a deal which Claire wisely sees for the farce it is. My personal thoughts on the situation? I would not believe you, if you said night is dark and day is bright, Jack Randall. I just wouldn’t…

By some miracle of mind and body which goes past the point of adrenaline, Jamie jumps into action and manages to nearly strangle Jack and then incapacitate the henchman Marley. But no matter how hard Jamie fights, it’s like a black hole of misery in that cell, and Jack ends up with the upper hand and a knife to Claire’s throat. All Jamie can do is let out a frustrated and anguished sob before throwing himself on his captor’s mercy. He plays the one card he has left. He will give himself and his silence to Jack in exchange for Claire’s life. A dangerous gambit, considering the man is literally dead on his feet. The only thing keeping him conscious is his broken hand, which he is deliberately pressing into the table. It doesn’t take long for Jack to accept the offer, which is something akin to winning the lottery in his book… *barf.

EXCERPT #1:

“Wait!” Jamie spoke behind us, and Randall turned impatiently.

“You’ll allow me to say goodbye?” It was a statement more than a question, and Randall hesitated only briefly before nodding and giving me a shove back toward the motionless figure at the table.

Jamie’s good arm was tight around my shoulders and my wet face was buried in his neck.

“You can’t,” I whispered. “You can’t. I won’t let you.”

His mouth was warm against my ear. “Claire, I’m to hang in the morning. What happens to me between now and then doesna matter to anyone.” I drew back and stared at him.

“It matters to me!” The strained lips quivered in what was almost a smile, and he raised his free hand and laid it against my wet cheek.

“I know it does, mo duinne. And that’s why you’ll go now. So I’ll know there is someone still who minds for me.” He drew me close again, kissed me gently and whispered in Gaelic, “He will let you go because he thinks you are helpless. I know you are not.” Releasing me, he said in English, “I love you. Go now.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


Oh Jamie… I felt sick when I read this for the first time. And to be honest, I still get a little queasy thinking about the things Jamie endures as a result of this “deal”. In his eyes, and as cited in the excerpt above, what happens to him doesn’t really matter in the next few hours. He’ll be dead either way, so he might as well save Claire’s life with the one thing he has left to give. As he and Claire part, I am always struck by Jamie’s final words, “He will let you go because he thinks you are helpless. I know you are not.” With those words he tells Claire everything he doesn’t have time to actually say. “You are strong. You are smart. You are not a helpless victim. You’re going to be okay without me. I love you.” For a man that started this story as a typical 18th century male, believing women were meant to obey the orders of their husbands, I can’t think of a more complete, or beautiful , story arc.

Chapter 36 – MacRannoch

Sir Marcus MacRannoch, the Scottish baronet whose land Claire was found upon is a bit suspicious of our erstwhile heroine at first. I mean, I can’t say I blame him. An Englishwoman found fighting off a pack of wolves outside Wentworth Prison? That’s a hell of a first impression to make! But even after Claire softens Sir Marcus up a bit, rescuing Jamie is still a hard sell. He can’t see any option that ends well, or how a rescue mission would even be attempted. He’s not thrilled by what Claire has told him, but his hands are kind of tied unless he wants to face retribution from The Crown. In the end, it takes persuasion of the cattle rustling variety to bring MacRannoch around, and a plan of theatrical proportions is hatched to rescue Jamie from the clutches of Black Jack Randall and the hangman.

When MacRannoch and his men reappear after Mission Complete, they have an unconscious Jamie in tow, slung across the withers of a slightly salty horse. A quick triage of his injuries in the snow reveals no life threatening injuries, but when they get him inside the house and laid out by the fire, it is made abundantly clear that life threatening or not, he’s in pretty bad shape. He’s been deliberately coach whipped on his back, creating an organized pattern of bloody strips from “nape to knees”. Bone deep cuts across his shoulder blades have been made with something resembling a cane, and he has fresh burns with white ash still crusted into the damaged skin — made by a hot poker. These are just the visible injuries done to him since he and Claire parted mere hours before… the mind boggles.

By far the worst of Jamie’s injuries is his poor hand. By Claire’s estimation the injury boasts nine broken bones — all of which Jamie wants her to set without drugs or anesthesia. A couple summers ago, I broke nine bones in my foot. I know how painful that can be, and to have each of those bones set without any sort of anesthetic literally makes me want to vomit. But Jamie has sound reasoning when Claire questions his sanity. If the redcoats came looking for him, they would find him incapacitated and unable to defend himself, and he would rather die than wake up chained and alone, back at Wentworth. Claire can’t really argue with that, and to be honest, I don’t really think she has any right to.

EXCERPT #2:

“I’m sorry,” I murmured once more.

The good hand pulled suddenly out of my grasp as Jamie raised himself on one elbow. Spitting out the leather gag, he regarded me with an expression between amusement and exasperation.

“Sassenach,” he said, “if you apologize each time ye hurt me, it’s going to be a verra long night — and it’s lasted some time already.”

I must have looked stricken, because he started to reach toward me, then stopped, wincing at the movement. He controlled the pain, though, and spoke firmly. “I know you dinna wish to hurt me. But you’ve no more choice about it than I have, and there’s no need for more than one of us to suffer for it. You do what’s needed, and I’ll scream if I have to.”

Replacing the leather strip, he bared his clenched teeth ferociously at me, then slowly and deliberately crossed his eyes. This made him look so like an addlepated tiger that I burst into half-hysterical laughter before I could stop myself.

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


Claire makes the comment while preparing to operate that there is a reason physicians do not practice on their own family members. There is a level of ruthlessness required to effect proper healing, and it is a huge leap for someone to overcome their scruples and inflict that amount of pain on someone they love. Jamie’s hand surgery is a prime example of this, and it takes every ounce of will she has to overcome both fatigue and emotional barriers to get the job done. I’m really impressed on both sides of this operation. First, Jamie went through this entire surgery without any sort of drugs, and second, Claire was able to shut her mind off and complete the surgery despite his screaming and vomiting. Not that I in any way want parallels drawn between myself and Black Jack Randall, but I have to agree with him. Claire and Jamie are fit matches for each other in every way.

Claire knows Jamie is putting on a brave face, but that he’s hurting a good deal more than he’s letting on. She knows that Jamie will talk to someone eventually, but hopes it won’t be her. Here we see the painful echo of Jamie’s famous words, “I can bear pain myself, but I could not bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.” Claire recognizes the truth in those words, especially after what she’s just endured.

When Jamie and Claire parted ways at Wentworth, Jamie never expected to see Claire again. Of course, he knew she wouldn’t give up. He’s not stupid; he recognizes his wife for the stubborn woman that she is, but he never in a million years thought she would be successful in rescuing him. And because of that firm belief that he would be dead soon, he didn’t fully take time to process the pain and torment he was experiencing. He didn’t pause to think about what that would mean for him after the fact. Now that his hand has been set, and he is laying by the fire in relative safety, he is thinking and feeling for the first time, and his emotions are almost more than he can handle.

EXCERPT#3:

“How do you feel?”

His eyes were closed, shadowed and sunken in the candlelight, but the lines of the broad back were tense under the bandages. The wide, bruised mouth twitched, somewhere between a smile and a grimace.

“I don’t know, Sassenach. I’ve never felt like this. I seem to want to do a number of things, all at once, but my mind’s at war wi’ me, and my body’s turned traitor. I want to get out of here at once, and run as fast and as far as I can. I want to hit someone. God, I want to hit someone! I want to burn Wentworth Prison to he ground. I want to sleep.”

“Stone doesn’t burn,” I said practically. “Maybe you’d better sleep, instead.”

His good hand groped for mine and found it, and the mouth relaxed somewhat, though his eyes stayed closed.

“I want to hold you hard to me and kiss you, and never let you go. I want to take you to my bed and use you like a whore, ‘til I forget that I exist. And I want to put my head in your lap and weep like a child.”

The mouth turned up at one corner, and a blue eye opened slitwise.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I can’t do any but the last of those without fainting or being sick again.”

“Well, then, I suppose you’ll just have to settle for that, and put the rest under the heading of future business.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


Watching Jamie struggle with what he has endured is one of the most painful things I have ever read. He would very much like to never think of the rape again, but it’s part of him now, whether he likes it or not. As he very wisely told Claire, it’s not a poisonous thorn that can be pulled clean out. It’s not even a broken bone that can be set. It’s a brokenness in him that doesn’t have a defined method of healing, and I think that’s what scares him the most. As readers we aren’t used to seeing Jamie helpless and afraid. He is a force of nature in almost every situation, but when he describes the destruction of his “fortress”, I can’t help but feel a fissure down the middle of my heart. He’s floundering for a way to put himself back together, but it’s like a man dropped in the middle of the ocean, desperate for dry land, only to find that there’s nothing there.

Chapter 37 – Escape

The next morning, Jamie is stiff and sore in every body part, but conscious and without fever. So, they stuff him with enough bandages and lint fit to fill a life sized teddy bear, and take off for the coast. Despite their careful preparations, it’s not long before the trio encounter a small band of redcoats who are knee deep in the hunt for Wentworth’s escaped prisoners. As I’m reading this I have a consistent stream of profanities coming out under my breath. Hasn’t poor Jamie been through enough?!?!? Needless to say this encounter ends with four dead redcoats, and Murtagh, Claire, and Jamie tearing across the Scottish countryside and hoping like hell they’ll get aboard the ship and safely away before their victims are found in the snow.

So they make it aboard the ship and take of for France. We can breathe now, right? WRONG. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the next level of Jumanji where you’re so sick you puke up blood… Good Luck! Claire and Murtagh are genuinely concerned that he is going to put one of his broken ribs through a vital organ with all his profuse vomiting, and in the end Murtagh bites the bullet and to hell with what Jamie wants. I love his words: “For most people, what they want and what they get are no the same thing.” No, Jamie, we are not going to let you become the only documented case of sea sickness mortality in the history books. End of story. Now drink this laudanum and go to sleep like a good lad…

Chapter 38 – The Abbey

Once they make it to France, Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh — though we don’t see much of him for the next few chapters — take refuge at the Abbey of Saint Anne de Beaupré where Jamie’s paternal uncle Father Alexander Fraser is the abbot. This really seems to be the best place for Jamie under the circumstances. There are several competent healers among the monks of the Abbey, and as his health continues to deteriorate, it is probably good for him to be in a place of religious significance considering Jamie holds his own faith very close to his heart.

As a reader, you really get Claire’s sense of helplessness. She has done all she can to mend his body, but Jamie is now struggling from the mental scars of his ordeal. He’s not eating, and he can’t sleep because of the nightmares that plague him in unconsciousness, and if my 100 level Health and Wellness class in college taught me anything, it’s that if the human body isn’t properly nourished and rested, mental wellness declines rapidly. Maybe someone should have told Jamie that…

Not that I’m saying what happens is in any way shape or form Jamie’s fault. PTSD is a fickle beast, and it often rears its ugly head at the most inconvenient time. But just as the victim deals with the mental and physical repercussions of their trauma, so too do those closest to them. It’s because of this fact that I’m so glad Claire found friends at the Abbey — particularly when it comes to Father Anselm, a Franciscan monk who really strikes me more as a spiritualist than a religionist. I think I would get along rather well with the good father, and I can see why Claire is drawn to him.

He sees that Claire is in need of something even when she doesn’t quite recognize it herself. So when she thwarts his advances on the religious practice front, he talks her into attending Perpetual Adoration with him the following evening. And in the dark and quiet hour of her presence with the holy sacrament, she finds what she needs: peace. It’s extremely common, I think, for caretakers to put so much time and energy into their loved ones that they forget to take care of themselves. They begin to feel hopeless and useless, but in reality, all they need is for someone to make them realize that they are enough for whatever may come of the situation.

EXCERPT #4:

And if there was eternity, or even the idea of it, then perhaps Anselm was right; all things were possible. And all love? I wondered. I had loved Frank; I still did. And I loved Jamie, more than my own life. But bound in the limits of time and flesh, I could not keep them both. Beyond, perhaps? Was there a place where time no longer existed, or where it stopped? Anselm thought so. A place where all things were possible. And none were necessary.

And was there love there? Beyond the limits of flesh and time, was all love possible? Was it necessary?

The voice of my thoughts seemed to be Uncle Lamb’s. My family, and all I knew of love as a child. A man who had never spoken love to me, who had never needed to, for I knew he loved me, as surely as I knew I lived. For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]

Chapter 39 – To Ransom A Man’s Soul

As Jamie’s mental state continues to go downhill, so does his physical health. I’m not saying that “mind over matter” is an explanation for everything, but there is a ring of truth to the old adage. And as Jamie sinks further and further into depression, he wishes for Claire to leave him in France and go back to Scotland and through the stones. Of course, Claire doesn’t take this laying down, what woman in her right mind would? She feels, and Jamie agrees, that she deserves an explanation, and boy does she get one. Jamie tells her ev-er-y-thing: the bad, the ugly, and the downright horrific of what happened in Wentworth.

Jamie can stand a lot, and he sets himself to endure his last few hours on earth with as little feeling as possible. Black Jack sets out to destroy every barrier Jamie could possibly conjure, and, in the end, it’s not the brutal torture that breaks Jamie. It’s the mixture of tender moments within the torture, and the constant mention of Claire that breaks him, because in that squalid dungeon cell, Black Jack roused a response in Jamie that disgusts him, and the shame he feels over that moment haunts him. He doesn’t feel he is deserving of Claire’s love and affection because of the things he did and felt in Wentworth.

EXCERPT #5:

“The…it’s all linked for me now. I canna think of you, Claire, even of kissing you or touching your hand, without feeling the fear and the pain and the sickness come back. I lie here feeling that I will die without your touch, but when you touch me, I feel as though I will vomit with shame and loathing of myself. I canna even see you now without…” His forehead rested on knotted fists, knuckles dug hard into his eye-sockets. The tendons of his neck were sharply etched with strain, and his voice came half-muffled.

“Claire, I want you to leave me. Go back to Scotland, to Craigh na Dun. Go back to your place, to your…husband. Murtagh will take you safe, I’ve told him.” He was silent for a moment, and I did not move.

He looked up again with desperate bravery, and spoke very simply.

“I will love you as long as I live, but I cannot be your husband any longer. And I will not be less to you.” His face began to break apart. “Claire, I want you so badly that my bones shake in my body, but God help me, I am afraid to touch you!” I started up to go to him, but he stopped me with a sudden motion of his hand. He was half doubled up, face contorted with internal struggle, and his voice was strangled and breathless.

“Claire…please. Please go. I’m going to be verra sick, and I don’t want you to see it. Please.”

I heard the pleading in his voice and knew I must spare him this one indignity, at least. I rose, and for the first time in my professional life, left a sick man to his own devices, helpless and alone.

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


Claire is at her wits end, and during perpetual adoration that night, she makes the executive decision to yield to a higher power, and commends Jamie’s soul to God–asking for help. The situation has gone past what she is capable of. After a solid hour of self reflection, and introspection, she realizes she has really been corresponding with someone or something deep inside herself, and when she walks out of the chapel, she has a sense of purpose, or perhaps peace…? While she has no real idea of what she is left with, she knows when the time is right, she will have her answers. That sense of peace is short lived though, because when she wakes in the early hours of the morning, it is to find Jamie boiling with fever. His mental health is no longer the primary concern. What matters now is simply keeping him alive.

Jamie has declined so far that he is teetering on the point of life and death. Even Claire recognizes nothing more can be done. He will live or he won’t. The monks intervene in Claire’s ministrations to administer The Last Rights, an action that panics Claire deeply. But realizing there is nothing more she is capable of in medical terms, she turns to the only other thing she can think of … magic… well, sort of.

And this is where the plan is hatched to create a hallucinatory state for Jamie to fight his demons and take back control of a life that has seemingly spun out of his control. Claire is one of the most heroic female characters I’ve ever read. To go to these dark places with her spouse, and quite literally, be willing to let him choke the life out of her to help him fight whatever internal battles he is fighting, is a bit beyond the call of duty for most people. Not Claire though. I think she wins Wife of The Year. Hands. Down.

EXCERPT #6:

I caressed him in the way I knew so well, tracing the line of his ribs from breastbone to back, lightly as Frank would have done, pressing hard on the aching bruise, as I was sure the other would have. I leaned forward and ran my tongue slowly around his ear, tasting and probing, and whispered, “Fight me! Fight back, you filthy scut!”

His muscles tightened and his jaw clenched, but he continued to stare upward. No choice, then. I would have to use the knife after all. I knew the risk I was taking in this, but better to kill him myself, I thought, than to sit quietly by and let him die.

I took the knife from the table and drew it firmly across his chest, along the path of the freshly healed scar. He gasped with the shock of it, and arched his back. Seizing a towel, I scrubbed it briskly over the wound. Before I could falter, I forced myself to run my fingers over his chest, scooping up a gout of blood which I rubbed savagely over his lips. There was one phrase that I didn’t have to invent, having heard it myself. Bending low over him, I whispered, “Now kiss me.”

I was not prepared for it. He hurled me half across the room as he came up off the bed. I staggered and fell against the table, making the giant candlesticks sway. The shadows darted and swung as the wicks flared and went out.

The edge of the table had struck me hard across the back, but I recovered in time to dodge away as he lunged for me. With an inarticulate growl, he came after me, hands outstretched.

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


Using techniques Geillis taught her, Claire is able to conjure up memories of her tender lover Frank, and his evil and torturous bastard of a 7-times great grandfather, Jack Randall. These memories, along with a few choice hallucinogens, are what she uses to make Jamie face his worst nightmare, and fight back. She knows that if she allows him to be left alone, he will waste away, consumed by his fever, until he dies. And as you read in the excerpt above, her plan works. It nearly kills her in the process, but it works. In Jamie’s fury, and resulting exertions, his fever and the mental anguish that’s been plaguing him break. He fought his inner demons and won. Finally.

Chapter 40 – Absolution

I’m not sure whether a 36-hour long siesta is worrisome or aspirational, but either way, I suppose Claire has earned it. Jamie is out of the woods, and it is probably this, more than anything else that gives her the mind set ‘no time like the present’. Claire’s confession to Father Anselm is actually a stroke of genius. By telling him under the seal of Confession, he is forced to take her seriously — not to mention the fact that everything she says is completely confidential. I suppose there was still a certain amount of risk involved: Exhibit A — Father Bain. But as I mention earlier, Anselm is really more of a spiritualist than a religionist. Far less judgy in any case.

Anselm is in awe of the entire situation. Although, I agree with Claire, I’m not sure I’d call what happened to her a ‘miracle’, but I suppose being called a Messenger of God is better than being called the Whore of Babylon… Claire has a lot of questions about the morality of all her actions. Do the standards of church doctrine still apply to her situation in regards to marriages? Were the murders she committed justified? Is she obliged to use her knowledge of the future to change things? Great questions, but not ones that Father Anselm has immediate answers to. I mean, these inquiries are a bit more complicated than your standard “impure thoughts” or “petty thievery”.

But in the end, after much thought and prayer, the good Father comes to a conclusion. First, both of Claire’s marriages are valid. They were both ordained and blessed by the church, and strictly in terms of time, they do not overlap. In fact, they are a sold 200 years apart. So, as far as the law is concerned, she has done no wrong. With regards to the actual men, Anselm helps Claire to understand that she shouldn’t feel guilt over what has occurred. She didn’t go through the stones by choice. Why should she beat herself up over the fact that happenstance ended up with a favorable outcome? Whether it was luck or kismet. She shouldn’t begrudge herself her happy ending in my humble opinion…

EXCERPT #7:

“Your first husband–Frank was his name?–he too, I think, must be commended to God as one of the regrettable things that you can do nothing about.”

“But I could have done something,” I argued. “I could have gone back–perhaps.”

He opened one eye and regarded me skeptically.

“Yes, ‘perhaps,’” he agreed. “And perhaps not. You need not reproach yourself for hesitating to risk your life.”

“It wasn’t the risk,” I said, flicking my toes at a big black-and-white splotched carp. “Or not entirely. It was–well, it was partly fear, but mostly it was that I–I couldn’t leave Jamie.” I shrugged helplessly. “I–simply couldn’t.”

Anselm smiled, opening both eyes.

“A good marriage is one of the most precious gifts from God,” he observed. “If you had the good sense to recognize and accept the gift, it is no reproach to you.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


Chapter 40 is all about the million pounds of emotional baggage being lifted off of Claire’s shoulders. As much as the moral ambiguity of her situation has been weighing on her, the situation with Jamie — whether he would survive or not, and what kind of shape he would be in if he did survive, has also had a huge impact on Claire’s mental state over the course of the last few chapters. Now Jamie is finally on the mend, and he has made it over the biggest hurdle. He no longer blames himself for what happened with Black Jack, and that is a huge step in his recovery. As his health begins to return, Jamie’s stubborn and willful nature begin to return as well, and I’m not going to lie, it’s good to see Jamie getting back to his old self — even if he is being a ‘stubborn, pig-headed, pain in the arse mule…’ (I really can’t resist a chance to use that show reference haha)

EXCERPT #8:

I drew myself to my full height, and pointed menacingly at the cot. With all the authority learned in years of nursing, I said, “Get back in that bed this instant, you stubborn, mulish, idiotic–”

“Scot,” he finished for me, succinctly. He took a step toward the door, and would have fallen, had he not caught hold of a stool. He plumped heavily down on it and sat swaying, his eyes a little unfocused with dizziness. I clenched my fists and glared at him.

“Fine,” I said. “Bloody fine! I’ll order bread and meat for you, and after you vomit on the floor, you can just get down on your hands and knees and clean it up yourself! I won’t do it, and if Brother Roger does, I’ll skin him alive!”

I stormed into the hall and slammed the door behind me, just before the porcelain washbasin crashed into it from the other side. I turned to find an interested audience, no doubt attracted by the racket, standing in the hall. Brother Roger and Murtagh stood side by side, staring at my flushed face and heaving bosom. Roger looked disconcerted, but a slow smile spread over Murtagh’s craggy countenance as he listened to the string of Gaelic obscenities going on behind the door.

“He’s feeling better, then,” he said contentedly. I leaned against the corridor wall, and felt an answering smile spread slowly across my own face.

“Well, yes,” I said, “he is.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


All of Claire’s time over the past few weeks has been spent worrying about Jamie, but now that he’s out of danger, Claire is beginning to think about the future. Where will they go? France? Italy? Not the Americas with Jamie’s sea sickness… unless she wants to bury him at sea. Her conversations with Anselm, I’m sure, are spinning around and around in her head. Is there anything she can actually do to change the future, and if there is, will it cause more harm than good? There are so many unknowns in this situation that it’s hard to tell up from down, but in the end she comes to a conclusion. She can’t in good conscience leave the Scots to fend for themselves. They have to at least TRY to change things.

Chapter 41 – From the Womb of the Earth

When the final chapter of Outlander opens up, it has been two weeks since the previous chapter, and things are looking up for our young couple. Jamie’s strength is returning, and he has certainly seemed to be in better spirits of late, but when Claire enters his room to find him examining his mangled hand and crying — she automatically  jumps to the worst possible conclusion; he is mourning for what has been lost. But she couldn’t be further from the truth. Jamie has a horror of amputation. He saw what it did to Ian — losing his leg after an infection, and feared the same for himself as he lay in bed, boiling with fever from his infected hand. It’s why he begged Claire to let him die.

So, as he sits by the window, examining his scars and minutely bending his fingers, he’s not crying over spilt milk. No, he’s thanking God he still has two functioning hands, and I’m sure, he’s thanking God for Claire. Now that Jamie is well and truly on his way to a full recovery, he and Claire know that the abbey will not be an option for them much longer. They must make a decision on what is next. And true to form in all Diana Gabaldon novels, the choice they make here will impact the trajectory of the rest of their lives.

EXCERPT #9:

It was a letter of introduction, from Abbot Alexander, commending his nephew, James Fraser, to the attention of the Chevalier-St. George–otherwise known as His Majesty King James of Scotland–as a most proficient linguist and translator.

“It’s a place,” Jamie said, watching as I folded the letter. “And we’ll need a place to go, soon. But what ye told me on the hill at Craigh na Dun–that was true, no?”

I took a deep breath and nodded. “It’s true.”

He took the letter from me and tapped it thoughtfully on his knee.

“Then this”–he waved the letter– “is not without a bit of danger.”

“It could be.”

He tossed the parchment into the drawer and sat staring after it for a moment. Then he looked up and the dark blue eyes held mine. He laid a hand along my cheek.

“I meant it, Claire,” he said quietly. “My life is yours. And it’s yours to decide what we shall do, where we go next. To France, to Italy, even back to Scotland. My heart has been yours since I first saw ye, and you’ve held my soul and body between your two hands here, and kept them safe. We shall go as ye say.”

[Excerpt from OUTLANDER, Copyright 1991 Diana Gabaldon]


It’s as they are sitting there, contemplating their next move, that several packages arrive for them courtesy of MacRannoch of Eldridge. These gifts, including an eerily life-like recreation of Claire’s furry friend from Wentworth, give Claire a chance to tell Jamie everything he missed while in the clutches of Black Jack: the plan to break him out of prison, the murder of the two redcoats, being dropped in the mass grave of executed prisoners, and having to fight a wolf with her bare hands to survive. Sitting here and listing everything our heroine went through makes me think; we have been so focused on Jamie’s story this entire time that it’s easy to forget Claire has been through the ringer as well — a conclusion that I’m sure Jamie is coming to with stunning rapidity, because as he sits holding his wife who has collapsed into him in a fit of hysterical sobs, he comes up with probably the best gift an 18th century man could give a 20th century woman: a hot bath.

The final scene of the book is absolute magic for so many reasons. We see this couple that has been through so much finally settle into their lives and decide what is next: Roma. They will head to Italy next. What they will do once there is uncertain, but with Jamie’s letter of recommendation, at least they have a start. Then we get this KILLER love scene *still fanning myself after this one. I mean, with the natural hot spring and all, I wouldn’t think it could get much steamier in there, but as always, DG proved me wrong. It was great to see Jamie and Claire get their groove back. Yes, in Chapter 40 we got their first sexual encounter since the events of Wentworth, and I can appreciate that for what it is, but THIS… well, as usual after a signature Gabaldon sex scene, I have very few words to describe it with.

In the end though, as they drag themselves up from the bowels of the monastery, drunk with love, and completely at peace with the world for the first time in a LONG while, we find ourselves at a place of complete and utter ecstasy with these two characters. They have survived the roughest experience life had to offer, and came out on the other side into a world of endless possibilities. Jamie told Claire there was no greater gift for her to bestow upon him than what she had already given him–his life and his manhood. Well, nothing could have been further from the truth because he’s now going to be a father as well. That’s right. Stop the presses. Claire. Is. Pregnant!!!

This is such a wonderful ending to a superb novel, and I really don’t think I could have imagined anything better. Outlander leaves off on a completely hopeful note that draws the reader in for more! After four years of college, and reading so much material I didn’t WANT to read, it was difficult for me to pick up a book and have the motivation to finish it. Outlander was the book that changed all of that for me, and I will forever be grateful to Diana Gabaldon for giving me back my love of reading.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed jotting down my thoughts on one of my all-time favorite novels over the past seven weeks, and I’m so glad you all came along for the ride with me! Who knows, maybe some day I’ll continue on with Dragonfly In Amber… Make sure to check back soon for my next entry on The Sassenach Files Blog.

Until next time, Cheers!!

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