Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who are celebrating today! Here are some Thanksgiving-themed quotes from the OUTLANDER books. This has become an annual tradition here on Outlandish Observations, and I hope you enjoy them!

*** SPOILER WARNING! *** 

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.



1) Roger and Brianna, hunting turkeys:
"What a thing," he said. He held it at arm's length to drain, admiring the vivid reds and blues of the bare, warty head and dangling wattle. "I don't think I've ever seen one, save roasted on a platter, with chestnut dressing and roast potatoes."

He looked from the turkey to her with great respect, and nodded at the gun.

"That's great shooting, Bree."

She felt her cheeks flush with pleasure, and restrained the urge to say, "Aw, shucks, it warn't nothin'," settling instead for a simple, "Thanks."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I love this scene, especially for Roger's reaction. He's a little taken aback by her shooting skills, but his ego doesn't seem to be threatened by the fact that she's better at hunting (providing food for the family) than he is.



2) Claire and Jamie receiving gifts from the local Native Americans, very much in the spirit of the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving:
Once the official introductions were over, Nacognaweto motioned to Berthe, who obediently brought out the large bundle she had carried, and opened it at my feet, displaying a large basket of orange and green-striped squash, a string of dried fish, a smaller basket of yams, and a huge pile of Indian corn, shucked and dried on the cob.

“My God,” I murmured. “The return of Squanto!”

Everyone gave me a blank look, and I hastened to smile and make exclamations--thoroughly heartfelt--of joy and pleasure over the gifts. It might not get us through the whole winter, but it was enough to augment our diet for a good two months.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "The White Raven". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


3) Jocasta and Duncan's wedding feast:

"Can ye not decide where to begin, Sassenach?" He reached down and took the empty wineglass from her hand, taking advantage of the movement to come close against her back, feeling the warmth of her through his clothes.

She laughed, and swayed back against him, leaning on his arm. She smelled faintly of rice powder and warm skin, with the scent of rose hips in her hair.

"I'm not even terribly hungry. I was just counting the jellies and preserves. There are thirty-seven different ones--unless I've missed my count."

He spared a glance for the table, which did indeed hold a bewildering array of silver dishes, porcelain bowls, and wooden platters, groaning with more food than would feed a Highland village for a month.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Quicksilver". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Most major holiday dinners give me this same feeling, although I can't say I've ever seen thirty-seven different varieties of *anything* at one meal before. <g>



4) The "hearth blessing" on Fraser's Ridge:
We blessed the hearth two days later, standing in the wall-less cabin. Myers had removed his hat, from respect, and Ian had washed his face. Rollo was present, too, as was the small white pig, who was required to attend as the personification of our "flocks," despite her objections; the pig saw no point in being removed from her meal of acorns to participate in a ritual so notably lacking in food.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "Hearth Blessing". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Considering how successful that little homestead on the Ridge would prove to be, I think there must have been something extra-powerful in that blessing. <g> And I love the mention of the little white piglet, who will grow up to become the infamous White Sow. If this blessing was intended to ensure fertility on the part of that sow, it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.



5) The Selkirk Grace:
[Hamish] glared round the table to insure that everyone was in a properly reverential attitude before bowing his own head. Satisfied, he intoned,

"Some hae meat that canna eat,
And some could eat that want it.
We hae meat, and we can eat,
And so may God be thankit.
Amen."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Colum's Hall". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

6) And finally, a quote for our particular circumstances in 2020, as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout the U.S. and all over the world. Even as we mourn the loss of so many who have died, and struggle to come to terms with the many ways in which our lives have changed in the course of this horrible year, I think we can all take a moment, as Jamie did on the morning of his 50th birthday, to be grateful that we are alive.

“The world and each day in it is a gift, mo chridhe--no matter what tomorrow may be.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 58, "Happy Birthday to You". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Happy Thanksgiving! (And to those of you outside the U.S., best wishes for the holiday season.)  If you're looking for OUTLANDER-related food ideas, check out this OUTLANDER Thanksgiving Feast posted by Theresa Carle-Sanders, author of the OUTLANDER Kitchen cookbooks.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Happy Birthday, Brianna!



Wishing a happy birthday to Brianna Ellen Randall Fraser MacKenzie! According to the Timeline on Diana Gabaldon's website, Bree was born on November 23, 1948. (Coincidentally, today also happens to be my own birthday. <g>)

In celebration of Bree's birthday, I'm reposting my ABC's of Brianna.  I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now TheLitForum.com) a few years ago. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Brianna.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright © Diana Gabaldon, of course.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will find Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

A for Artistic. I like Bree's artistic side very much, especially because it's something that she did not inherit from either of her parents.

B for Boston, where Brianna was born and raised.

C for Catholicism.  Bree attended parochial schools as a child, and her Catholic faith is important to her, but she's not bothered by the fact that Roger is a Presbyterian.

D for the Dreambook, in which Bree records her dreams and her most private thoughts. She can be a hard person to get to know, and I think the Dreambook helps, by giving us a glimpse into a part of herself that she won't talk about, even to Roger.

E for her Engineering skills:
Before being forcibly returned to the surgery, Jamie had estimated the buffalo’s weight at something between eighteen hundred and two thousand pounds. Brianna had nodded at this, handed Jemmy to Lizzie, then walked slowly around the carcass, squinting in deep thought.

“Right,” she’d said, and as soon as the men began to appear from their homesteads, half-dressed, unshaven, and wild-eyed with excitement, had issued cool directions for the cutting of logs and the building of a pulley-frame capable of hoisting and supporting a ton of meat.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 92, "I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
F for Frank Randall, the man who was "Daddy" to her all her life. He may not have been her biological father, but there's no doubt that he loved her very much.

G for the Gathering at Mt. Helicon, where Bree and Roger were married.

H for Hunting.  Bree is a surprisingly good shot with a musket.
She swung around, sighted on it as it left the ground, caught the black blob outlined for a split second against the brilliant sky, and blasted it in the tail feathers. It dropped like a sack of coal, and hit the ground forty yards away with an audible thud.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I for Ingenuity and Inventions. My favorite example is the the snake-fang syringe, which saved Jamie's life after he was bitten by a snake in FIERY CROSS, by giving Claire a way to inject penicillin directly into his bloodstream.

J for her son, Jem. And for Jamie, of course.

K for the Kiln she built on the Ridge, to make clay pipes to carry water. Also for Bree's habit of Kicking solid objects, like trees, when she gets angry or frustrated.

L for Lallybroch. Also for Lizzie, who accompanied Bree to America and became a valued member of the Fraser's Ridge community.

M for her daughter, Mandy.  Also for Matches, a 20th-century invention that Bree introduced in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.

N for the Newspaper clipping announcing the deaths by fire of Jamie and Claire on January 21, 1776. If it hadn't been for that newspaper clipping, Bree might never have gone back through the stones, Roger would never have come after her, and all that followed would never have happened.

O for Only child. Like Roger and Claire, Bree grew up without siblings. When she visits Lallybroch in DRUMS, she experiences for the first time what it's like to be part of a large family.

P for Parents. Brianna loves all three of her parents -- Claire, Jamie, and Frank -- very deeply. I love watching the way her relationship with Jamie evolves over the course of the series.

Q for Quest. It took many months, including a trip through the stones and a long sea voyage, but Bree found Jamie Fraser at long last.
"You can ... call me Da," he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. "If--if ye want to, I mean," he added diffidently.
"Da," she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears. "Da. Is that Gaelic?"
He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly.
"No. It's only .... simple."
And suddenly it was all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she'd imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "Journey's End". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
R for Roger, of course.  Also for Resourceful. Bree is a good person to have around in a crisis.

S for Stephen Bonnet. The rape had a profound impact on Brianna for years, but in the end she showed mercy by shooting him in order to keep him from drowning.

T for Time-Travel, without which Brianna might not have survived to be born in the first place.

U for Underwear, or the lack of it.
"I got out of the habit in the eighteenth century,” she snapped, plainly taking the huff. “I only wear knickers for ceremonial purposes anymore."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Hilltops". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
V for Virgin. Bree was a virgin on her hand-fasting night.

W for Work. Having a career is important to Brianna, just as it has always been for her mother. I like the echoes, in this scene, of Claire and Jamie's argument in DRAGONFLY about working at L'Hรดpital des Anges.
"Job?" [Roger had] said stupidly.

"Job," she’d repeated, narrowing her eyes at him.

He had been swift enough to suppress the automatic "But you’ve got a job" that had sprung to his lips, substituting a rather mild--he thought--"Why?"

Never one for quiet diplomacy, she’d fixed him with a stare and said, "Because one of us needs to work, and if it isn’t going to be you, it’ll have to be me."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "Unarmed Conflict". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
X for her eXplosive temper.
"Now, sweetheart..." Roger began. I could have told him this was a mistake; Frasers in a fury tended to pay no attention to honeyed words, being instead inclined to go for the throat of the nearest party unwary enough to speak to them.

"Don't you 'sweetheart' me!" she snapped, turning on him. "You think so, too! You think everything I do is a waste of time if it isn't washing clothes or cooking dinner or mending your effing socks! And you blame me for not getting pregnant, too, you think it's my fault! Well, it's NOT, and you know it!"
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "We Have Ignition". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Y for Young. Bree was only nineteen years old when we first met her in DRAGONFLY, naive and inexperienced in many ways, and certainly not the seasoned world-traveler that both of her parents were at the same age. She's changed quite a lot in the last few years!

Z for the Zipper of her jeans, which she used as a weapon to fend off Rob Cameron in MOHB.

Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating an unforgettable character, and to Sophie Skelton for bringing her to life on TV!

I hope you enjoyed these ABC's. Here are the other posts in this series:

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
ABC's of Claire Fraser
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of Lord John Grey
ABC's of Young Ian

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!



Happy Halloween! Here are some Halloween-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books and stories. Hope you enjoy them!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, there are SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.

1) Roger's thoughts, on the eve of Claire's departure through the stones to find Jamie:
Hallowe'en had always seemed to him a restless night, alive with waking spirits. Tonight was even more so, with the knowledge of what would happen in the morning. The jack o'lantern on the desk grinned in anticipation, filling the room with the homely scent of baking pies.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) This is one of my favorites from AN ECHO IN THE BONE:
Now there was nothing out there but the black of a moonless Highland night. The sort of night when Christians stayed indoors and put holy water on the doorposts, because the things that walked the moors and the high places were not always holy.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 72, "The Feast of All Saints". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Claire and Roger on Halloween night, 1968. If you're not familiar with the story Roger is referring to, look here.
"No, I never could sleep on All Hallows'. Not after all the stories my father told me; I always thought I could hear ghosts talking outside my window."

She smiled, coming into the firelight. "And what did they say?"

"'See'st thou this great gray head, with jaws which have no meat?' " Roger quoted. "You know the story? The little tailor who spent the night in a haunted church, and met the hungry ghost?"

"I do. I think if I'd heard that outside my window, I'd have spent the rest of the night hiding under the bedclothes."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) I couldn't resist including a bit of Duncan's ghost story here:
"He said it was a figure like a man, but with no body," Duncan said quietly. "All white, like as it might have been made of the mist. But wi' great holes where its eyes should be, and empty black, fit to draw the soul from his body with dread."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "A Hanging in Eden". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Roger's father, Jerry MacKenzie, on a long-ago Halloween night:
“Damn,” said the fair one, softly. “There’s a light.”

There was; a single light, bobbing evenly over the ground, as it would if someone carried it. But look as he might, Jerry could see no one behind it, and a violent shiver ran over him.

Uisge,” said the other man under his breath. Jerry knew that word well enough--spirit, it meant. And usually an ill-disposed one. A haunt.

“Aye, maybe.” The dark man’s voice was calm. “And maybe not. It’s Samhain, after all."

(From "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2010 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Even wee Jemmy is affected by stories of "things that go bump in the night".
"Scared? Of what?" A little more gently, she pulled the shirt off over his head.

"The ghost."

"What ghost?" she asked warily, not sure yet how to handle this. She was aware that all of the slaves at River Run believed implicitly in ghosts, simply as a fact of life. So did virtually all of the Scottish settlers in Cross Creek, Campbelton, and the Ridge. And the Germans from Salem and Bethania. So, for that matter, did her own father. She could not simply inform Jem that there was no such thing as a ghost--particularly as she was not entirely convinced of that herself.

"Maighistear arsaidh's ghost," he said, looking up at her for the first time, his dark blue eyes troubled. "Josh says he's been walkin'."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99, "Old Master". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Claire meets Otter-Tooth's ghost:
He was tall, and he was naked. Beyond a breechclout, he wore nothing but paint; long stripes of red down arms and legs and torso, and his face was solid black, from chin to forehead. His hair was greased and dressed in a crest, from which two turkey feathers stiffly pointed.

I was invisible, completely hidden in the darkness of my refuge, while the torch he held washed him in soft light, gleaming off his hairless chest and shoulders, shadowing the orbits of his eyes. But he knew I was there
I didn’t dare to move. My breath sounded painfully loud in my ears. He simply stood there, perhaps a dozen feet away, and looked straight into the dark where I was, as though it were the broadest day. And the light of his torch burned steady and soundless, pallid as a corpse candle, the wood of it not consumed.

I don’t know how long I had been standing there before it occurred to me that I was no longer afraid. I was still cold, but my heart had slowed to its normal pace, and my bare toes had uncurled.

“Whatever do you want?” I said, and only then realized that we had been in some sort of communication for some time. Whatever this was, it had no words. Nothing coherent passed between us--but something passed, nonetheless.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "The Skull Beneath the Skin". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) Lord John's encounter with a zombie:
Bloody hell, where was the man? If it was a man. For even as his mind reasserted its claim to reason, his more visceral faculties were recalling Rodrigo's parting statement: Zombie are dead people, sah. And whatever was here in the dark with him seemed to have been dead for several days, judging from its smell.

He could hear the rustling of something moving quietly toward him. Was it breathing? He couldn't tell, for the rasp of his own breath, harsh in his throat, and the blood-thick hammering of his heart in his ears.

(From "A Plague of Zombies" by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) And finally, on a lighter note, here's Mandy, age three:
Mandy bounced a little on her booster seat, leaning to peer out the window. She was wearing the Halloween mask Bree had helped her make, this being a mouse princess: a mouse face drawn with crayons on a paper plate, with holes pierced for eyes and at either side for pink yarn ties, pink pipe cleaners glued on for whiskers, and a precarious small crown made with cardboard, more glue, and most of a bottle of gold glitter.

Scots celebrated Samhain with hollowed-out turnips with candles in them, but Brianna had wanted a slightly more festive tradition for her half-American children. The whole seat sparkled as though the car had been sprinkled with pixie dust.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Warmer, Colder". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Halloween / Samhain / All Hallows' Eve to all of you! If you happen to go near any stone circles in the next couple of days, be sure to carry a wee gemstone with you, just in case! You never know what might happen....

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Happy Birthday, Claire!

Wishing a very happy 102nd birthday (believe it or not!) to our favorite time-traveling Sassenach, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser!  She was born on October 20, 1918.

If you're on Twitter, please join OUTLANDER fans worldwide in celebrating Claire's birthday with the hashtag #HappyBdaySassenach.

In celebration of Claire's birthday, here are some of my favorite "Claire moments" from the OUTLANDER books.  It wasn't easy to pick just one per book, but I tried to choose quotes that highlight the many different aspects of Claire's personality.  I hope you enjoy them!

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will find spoilers below! Read at your own risk.



OUTLANDER

By now I had sufficient command of myself to speak, and I did so. I stepped back a pace, so that the torchlight fell full on me, for I wanted him to remember my face.

“You asked me, Captain, if I were a witch,” I said, my voice low and steady. “I’ll answer you now. Witch I am. Witch, and I curse you. You will marry, Captain, and your wife will bear a child, but you shall not live to see your firstborn. I curse you with knowledge, Jack Randall--I give you the hour of your death.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Wentworth Prison". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


DRAGONFLY IN AMBER
Then all at once, the fear left me. I could not leave him, and I would not.

"Jamie," I said, into the folds of his plaid. "I'm going back with you."

He started back, staring down at me.

"The hell you are!" he said.

"I am." I felt very calm, with no trace of doubt. "I can make a kilt of my arisaid; there are enough young boys with the army that I can pass for one. You've said yourself it will all be confusion. No one will notice."

"No!" he said. "No, Claire!" His jaw was clenched, and he was glaring at me with a mixture of anger and horror.

"If you're not afraid, I'm not either," I said, firming my own jaw. "It will ... be over quickly. You said so." My chin was beginning to quiver, despite my determination. "Jamie--I won't ... I can't ... I bloody won't live without you, and that's all!"

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


VOYAGER
You are my baby, and always will be. You won’t know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you’ll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside. Always.

I can look at you, asleep, and think of all the nights I tucked you in, coming in the dark to listen to your breathing, lay my hand on you and feel your chest rise and fall, knowing that no matter what happens, everything is right with the world because you are alive.


(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright ©1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


DRUMS OF AUTUMN
"It’s up to me to keep ye safe!”

I tried to jerk away, but he had a tight grip on me, and he wasn’t letting go.

“I am not a young girl who needs protection, nor yet an idiot! If there’s some reason for me not to do something, then tell me and I’ll listen. But you can’t decide what I’m to do and where I’m to go without even consulting me--I won’t stand for that, and you bloody well know it!"

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience". Copyright ©1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


THE FIERY CROSS
The only virtue to hideous emergency is that it gives one license to attempt things that could never be done in cold blood.

I fumbled for the small bottle of alcohol that I carried in my pocket. I nearly dropped it, but by the time I had poured the contents over my fingers and wiped both my scalpel and Roger’s neck, the surgeon’s trance had come over me, and my hands were once more steady.

I took a moment, hands on his neck, eyes closed, feeling for the faint throb of the artery, the slightly softer mass of the thyroid. I pressed upward; yes, it moved. I massaged the isthmus of the thyroid, pushing it out of the way, hard toward his head, and with my other hand, pressed the knife blade down into the fourth tracheal cartilage.

The cartilage here was U-shaped, the esophagus behind it soft and vulnerable; I must not stab too deeply. I felt the fibrous parting of skin and fascia, resistance, then the soft pop as the blade went in. There was a sudden loud gurgle, and a wet kind of whistling noise; the sound of air being sucked through blood. Roger’s chest moved. I felt it, and it was only then that I realized my eyes were still shut.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 69, "Hideous Emergency". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES

"I have lived through a fucking world war,” I said, my voice low and venomous. “I have lost a child. I have lost two husbands. I have starved with an army, been beaten and wounded, been patronized, betrayed, imprisoned, and attacked. And I have fucking survived!” My voice was rising, but I was helpless to stop it. “And now should I be shattered because some wretched, pathetic excuses for men stuck their nasty little appendages between my legs and wiggled them?!” I stood up, seized the edge of the washstand and heaved it over, sending everything flying with a crash--basin, ewer, and lighted candlestick, which promptly went out.

“Well, I won’t,” I said quite calmly.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


AN ECHO IN THE BONE
I had picked up Jamie’s sword before. It was a cavalry sword, larger and heavier than the usual, but I didn’t notice now.

I snatched it up and swung it in a two-handed arc that ripped the air and left the metal ringing in my hands.

Mother and son jumped back, identical looks of ludicrous surprise on their round, grimy faces.

“Get away!” I said.

Her mouth opened, but she didn’t say anything.

"I’m sorry for your man,” I said. “But my man lies here. Get away, I said!” I raised the sword, and the woman stepped back hastily, dragging the boy by the arm.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 62, "One Just Man". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD
A trained surgeon is also a potential killer, and an important bit of the training lies in accepting the fact. Your intent is entirely benign--or at least you hope so--but you are laying violent hands on someone, and you must be ruthless in order to do it effectively. And sometimes the person under your hands will die, and knowing that...you do it anyway.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 117, "Into the Briar Patch". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
What about the rest of you? Do you have a favorite Claire quote, or scene, from the books or show? What is it about Claire that makes her such an amazing character?

Happy 102nd Birthday, Claire! Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an unforgettable character, and to Caitriona Balfe for bringing her to life on TV!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

OUTLANDER Season 5 Blu-ray and DVD now available!



The OUTLANDER Season 5 DVD, Blu-ray, and Collector's Edition Blu-ray are now available! You can find them on Amazon at the links below, as well as all the usual places where DVDs are sold.

Please note, these links are for the US editions. I have no information on release dates for the Season 5 Blu-ray or DVD in other countries.

DVD
Blu-ray
Collector's Edition Blu-ray (pictured below)



Look here for a description of the additional features included on the Blu-ray and DVD.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Outlandish Observations is 12 years old!



Outlandish Observations turns 12 years old today!!

Wow. That's hard to believe, even for me. Twelve years?! But it's true.

I started this blog on August 28, 2008, with two goals in mind. The first was simply to learn about blogging. The second was to create a central repository for news and information for OUTLANDER fans, a place where people could go to find answers to commonly asked questions, links to other OUTLANDER-related sites, and the latest information on Diana Gabaldon's new and upcoming releases.

To say that this blog has succeeded far beyond my wildest imaginings is a severe understatement! In the beginning, I never expected anyone to visit my site except a few dozen of my friends from the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now TheLitForum.com) and the Ladies of Lallybroch fan-site.  I didn't talk about it on Compuserve for the first couple of years, because I was very reluctant to draw attention to it where Diana Gabaldon could see -- which seems silly in retrospect, but it's true.  Suffice it to say that I did get over that shyness, eventually. <g>

Special thanks to all of my followers on the Outlandish Observations Facebook page! Last year at this time I had 11,345 followers on Facebook. Today that number is 11,976, an increase of 5.56%. I'm delighted that so many new people have found my site over the past year. Welcome! I hope you take some time to look around and see what else is available here.

Outlandish Observations was one of the first successful OUTLANDER-related blogs. These days there are innumerable fan-sites, Facebook groups, and so on. The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned! <g> I'm proud to be a part of such a thriving, creative, and enthusiastic worldwide community of fans, united in our passion for these books and characters and this amazing story Diana Gabaldon has created, that is now being brought to life on TV.

Speaking of which...I'm delighted to see so many new people discovering OUTLANDER as a result of the TV series!  Thanks to all of you who've enjoyed my episode recaps for Seasons 1-5.  It takes a lot of time and effort to put those recaps together, and I'm so glad you're finding them useful!

I haven't been blogging as often as usual in recent months, due to a number of factors: a feeling of "OUTLANDER fatigue" after the end of Season 5, a very busy period at work, a lot of stress in my personal life (not all of it related to the pandemic), and the fact that there just hasn't been much new to talk about lately. But I wanted to assure you all that I'm not going anywhere, and I plan to keep this blog going for the foreseeable future.

It goes without saying that I can't wait for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series!! Diana Gabaldon is still in the final stages of writing the book. We don't yet have a publication date, or cover art, or pre-order links, but as soon as I hear anything definite, I will post it here. Please check back here from time to time for the latest updates.

Many, many thanks to all of you who've visited Outlandish Observations over the past twelve years. It's been an amazing journey, and I'm so glad you've come along for the ride.

THANK YOU ALL!!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Confessions of an OUTLANDER Audiobook Addict

Check out this excellent OutlanderCast interview with Davina Porter, who narrates the OUTLANDER audiobooks! She's a wonderful narrator, and she does a terrific job with all the different voices and accents.

I've been wondering for a while if Davina Porter would be available to do the audiobook for GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 in the OUTLANDER series. I was afraid she might have retired, and so I was delighted and relieved to see Diana Gabaldon's response to my comment on her Facebook page today:

This is really wonderful news!

I've been addicted to the OUTLANDER audiobooks since 2007, and I enthusiastically recommend them! Here's an update of a blog post I did a few years ago with some more thoughts on the subject.

CONFESSIONS OF AN OUTLANDER AUDIOBOOK ADDICT

Well, all right, to be honest, I'm just addicted to the series, period. In whatever form. <g> But I wanted to share some thoughts on the audio versions of the OUTLANDER and Lord John books, which I've been listening to almost daily since April 2007.

Please note, if you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, there are SPOILERS below!

Things I Like About the Audiobooks

1) They force you to slow down, and take in all the details.

I have always been a fast reader, and a "skimmer". I missed huge chunks of Good Stuff the first time I read the series, particularly in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, because I was reading much too fast.

Because the audiobook narrators read Every Single Word, you learn to slow down and listen for the smaller details, the subtleties, the lyrical descriptions that skim-readers like myself often breeze right past. Slowing down has enabled me to see things in Diana Gabaldon's writing that I never would have picked up on otherwise, no matter how many times I re-read the books, because I just read too fast.

2) The narrators are terrific.

Davina Porter's voice is so expressive, and she does a wonderful job with all of the accents. (Well, almost all. See Things I Don't Like, below.) I love being able to hear what the Scottish accents and Gaelic phrases actually sound like. And she can be very creative with the voices at times. I absolutely love the way her voice for Roger changes in FIERY CROSS, for example: strong and resonant in the beginning; barely more than a hoarse whisper when he begins to speak again after the hanging; and by the end, a sort of harsh, rasping shadow of his original voice. Very much as it's described in the book, in other words. And Davina Porter's voice for Mrs. Bug sounds so exactly like the way I imagined, that I always have to laugh whenever I hear it.

Here's a wonderful two-part video interview with Davina Porter from 2009.

Jeff Woodman, narrator of the Lord John audiobooks, is also a wonderful reader. I love his voices for Lord John, Hal, Tom Byrd, and Harry Quarry.  Diana Gabaldon says that Jeff Woodman's voice for Lord John sounds just like the voice she hears in her head. <g>  He doesn't do so well (understandably enough) with the female voices, but overall he does a good job.

Here's an interview with Jeff Woodman from 2010.

All of the novellas and shorter pieces that Diana Gabaldon has published in recent years are also available in audio format on audible.com. The audio version of "Virgins" is a real treat, as it's read by a Scot, Allan Scott-Douglas, who does an excellent job of voicing 19-year-old Jamie and his best friend Ian.

3) You can listen anywhere, any time.

Back in the pre-COVID days, before I started working from home, I often used to listen to the audiobooks in the car while driving back and forth to work. It works out pretty well, especially if you are sitting in traffic, but I would recommend caution if you are listening to one of the really emotionally intense parts of the books! One day in 2007, I was driving home while listening to the scene in OUTLANDER where Jamie is being given last rites. I suddenly found myself half-blinded by tears, still driving down the road, about a mile from my house. I got home without incident, but it was a pretty scary experience.

Some people like to listen to the audiobooks while gardening or doing housework.  I enjoy listening to them while doing needlepoint.

Things I Don't Like

Some of the voices are just plain wrong. If you've read A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, you'll recall Wendigo Donner, the time-travelling Native American who whistles "Yellow Submarine". He's clearly not British in the book:

"Man," he said, longing clear in his voice, "what I wouldn't give for a cold Bud and a baseball game on TV."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 123, "Return of the Native". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Unfortunately, the voice Davina Porter uses for him in the audio version makes him sound like a Liverpudlian. Certainly he doesn't sound like a man born and raised in the U.S.  (Davina has admitted that she got his accent wrong.)  Brianna's accent is also a bit odd. She lived her whole childhood in Boston, yet she doesn't have a trace of a Boston accent. I've always thought she should.

And as for Jeff Woodman's voices: Well, let's just say that I don't care for his Jamie-voice at all. Jamie sounds half-dead in most of the scenes where he appears in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, his voice dull and almost inflectionless. And even if this is Woodman's way of showing a more subdued or even depressed Jamie than we're used to from the OUTLANDER books (which would be reasonable under the circumstances, I suppose), I still don't like it one bit. Especially compared to Davina Porter's Jamie.

The dual-narrator approach that they tried with THE SCOTTISH PRISONER was not as successful as I had hoped.  I thought it was a good idea to have two narrators for that book, with Jeff Woodman reading Lord John's parts of the book and Rick Holmes reading Jamie's. Unfortunately, while Rick Holmes has a very soothing voice as a narrator, his Jamie doesn't sound distinctively Scottish, at least to my ears.

Still, these are minor quibbles at best, and they don't diminish my enjoyment of the audiobooks at all.

A Word of Caution

I would recommend that those of you with young children be careful which parts of the books you listen to when your kids are around. There are many scenes in these books that would be awkward to explain, to put it mildly. <g>  And I'm not just talking about the sex scenes!

One day in 2010, I was on my way out to lunch with a couple of male co-workers, and I forgot I'd had DRAGONFLY IN AMBER on my iPod coming through the car stereo.  I got in the car, turned on the ignition, and heard Davina Porter (in Jamie's voice) saying "pustulent arseholes...." <g>  (I think the context of the phrase was something to do with Claire's work at L'Hopital des Anges, but it doesn't matter; the point is, these were the first and only words my coworkers heard.)

I shut the stereo off fast, blushing furiously.

My startled coworkers stared first at the radio, then at me.  "What on earth was THAT?!"

"Oh, um....nothing."

I just couldn't think of any way to explain.  The truth would have required a lot more explanation than I was prepared to give, just at that moment.  (These being coworkers who had no idea of my OUTLANDER-addiction.)  I think they went away thinking I had very odd tastes in radio programs, or something.

I suppose I should count myself lucky that I hadn't been listening to one of the sex scenes. <g>  That would have been AWFULLY hard to explain!

Where to Find the Audiobooks

All of Diana Gabaldon's books are available in unabridged audio format.  I would strongly encourage anyone who's interested to go to audible.com or Amazon to check them out!

Please note, if you get the OUTLANDER audiobooks from the library, make sure you are listening to the UNABRIDGED version, read by Davina Porter.  (The abridged versions were phased out a few years ago, much to Diana Gabaldon's relief and delight.)

I hope you enjoy the audiobooks as much as I have!