Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Outlander Calendar 2010

Take a look at the wonderful Outlander Series Calendar 2010 that Jari Backman has put together on his site. Jari put a lot of time and effort into this, and I think we'll find it very useful.

There are two different views: monthly (to view one month at a time) and annual (to view all of 2010 on one page).

Dates that are taken directly from the books are displayed in blue. For example, on January 21 it says, "1776, The House on Fraser's Ridge doesn't burn down, ABOSAA".

Birthdays are displayed in red. For example, look at May 1, which is Jamie's birthday.

Dates for which we know only the month and year, but not the specific day, are displayed in magenta. For example, look at April 28, which says: "1948, Claire returns to 20th Century, DIA". We know she arrived in the 20th century in late April, 1948, but the exact date is not given in the books, so the magenta color indicates that this date is only speculation. (Many of these dates shown in magenta are very good guesses, but only Diana can say for sure if they're accurate. <g>)

Holidays are displayed in green. These include U.S. holidays as well as the sun feasts and fire feasts (look at November 1, for example, which is Samhain).

Jari, thanks so much for this! It's going to be a wonderful resource for OUTLANDER fans. I have said it before, but I think you deserve the title of Unofficial Keeper of the Timeline. <g> And thank you again for all your help with the Notable Dates This Month feature on this site. I really appreciate it.

UPDATE 12/30/09 5:44 pm - I just wanted to let people know that this calendar contains SPOILERS for AN ECHO IN THE BONE, and you may want to be cautious with it, if you haven't yet finished the book.

UPDATE 12/31/09 7:15 am - If you have comments about the calendar, or suggestions, or if you see something that needs to be corrected, please contact Jari Backman at, or post in the thread on Compuserve, here. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 Reading Challenges

There are a number of different reading challenges available for 2010. I've chosen these three, in an attempt to broaden the scope of my reading this year, and get some exposure to authors I've never read before.

I also chose these particular challenges because I think they're achievable within a year. <g> There are others out there -- the Twenty Ten Challenge, for example, where you have to read two books in each of ten different categories -- that seem either impossible to complete, too time-consuming, or overly restrictive. I tried to stick with challenges that fit with my own interests in reading.

1. 2010 Time Travel Reading Challenge

(January 1 - December 31, 2010)

As a lifelong reader of time-travel stories (look here for some of my favorites), I was delighted to see this challenge, created by Alyce at At Home with Books. It certainly won't be hard for OUTLANDER fans to complete it!

Decide how many time travel books you want to read and then read them before the end of 2010 - that's it!

I'm going to do something a little different with this challenge. I'm not going to pick a set number of books in advance, but I am going to try to read as many of the ones on this list as I can, that I haven't read before. And for my own version of this challenge, I'm not going to count the OUTLANDER books.

2. Awesome Author Challenge 2010

(January 1 - December 31, 2010)

This one also comes from Alyce at At Home with Books:

The idea behind this challenge is to read works by authors who have been recommended to you time and again, but you haven't gotten around to reading them yet. These are the authors that everyone else tells you are awesome, thus the "Awesome Author Challenge" title.

Titles and authors do not have to be predetermined, and can change at any time.

Books can come from any genre or reading level, the only requirement is that you have heard great things about the author, but haven't yet read any of their works.

I haven't yet decided which authors to focus on. Suggestions welcome!

3. 2010 Chunkster Challenge

(February 1, 2010 - January 31, 2011)

Definition of a Chunkster:

* A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature (fiction or nonfiction) ... A chunkster should be a challenge.
* If you read large type books your book will need to be 525 pages or more

I participated in this challenge in 2009 and had fun with it. If you're going to be (re-)reading the OUTLANDER books in 2010 anyway, this one isn't difficult. <g>

Monday, December 28, 2009

What would you like to see in 2010?

Looking back over the past year, I'm amazed at the success of this blog, which I started in September 2008 with a handful of readers and fairly low expectations. It's grown into something much bigger than I ever imagined. And now I'm wondering...what else would you, the readers of Outlandish Observations, like to see here, as we move into 2010?
  • Are there particular topics you'd like to talk about?
  • Things I've done well that you'd like to see more of? (If so, what?)
  • Suggestions for future poll-of-the-month questions?
  • Do you have any interesting OUTLANDER-related links you'd like to share?
Any and all comments and suggestions welcome!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vote for ECHO on Goodreads!

Goodreads is running a poll of the Best Books of 2009, and Diana Gabaldon's AN ECHO IN THE BONE is (as I write this) #15 and climbing.

Diana posted this on her blog yesterday:

"At a glance, there seem to be a _lot_ of good books listed, and I'm honored to be among them."

Please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested. I'm not sure how long the poll will be open. You have to be a member of Goodreads to vote, but it's free and the signup process is very quick.

Thanks to RZ on Compuserve for letting us know about this!

UPDATE 12/27/09 4:35 pm: If you haven't yet voted in this poll, please note, there are two different listings for ECHO on the "Best Books of 2009" page that I linked to above -- one showing the U.S. cover (black background with a gold caltrop) and one showing the UK cover (blue with a skeletal leaf). In the interest of consolidating things, until Goodreads can fix this, I would recommend that you vote for the one with the U.S. cover, which is the one ranked higher in the list. (They're the SAME book, after all!) Thanks.

UPDATE 12/30/09 6:10 am: The two listings for ECHO have been combined into one (thanks to Judie at LOL for contacting Goodreads to get this fixed!) and ECHO is now solidly in third place. If you haven't yet voted, click here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

To those of you on Facebook

The traffic on this site had a HUGE and unexpected increase yesterday, due to the fact that someone posted a link to my "Christmas Quotes" blog entry on the OUTLANDER fan page on Facebook.

Lately my site has been averaging about 150 visitors per day. Yesterday, December 23, there were 385 visitors (!), the vast majority of them coming from Facebook. I think that's a new record for this blog; even the day of ECHO's release, I didn't get that many visitors. I'm delighted to see all the new people coming to check out my blog.

The sudden jump in traffic took me completely by surprise, because I hadn't even known that fan page existed. (Thanks to Diana Larson for clearing up the mystery for me <g>) I still don't know who posted the link, but whoever you are, thank you so much!

I'm relatively new to Facebook, having joined only in September 2009, but I'm having fun with it so far.

If you've found my blog through Facebook, welcome, and feel free to look around. I think you'll find quite a lot of things here of interest to OUTLANDER fans.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I am the same Karen Henry who's mentioned in the Acknowledgements of AN ECHO IN THE BONE as the "Czarina of Traffic" in Diana's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. <g> New members are always welcome there, and if any of you have a question or a comment for Diana, I would encourage you to post on the forum.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas quotes

Here are some Christmas-themed quotes from the OUTLANDER books.

1) It's hard to imagine, from our 21st-century perspective, anyone losing track of the date this close to Christmas. But Roger had a lot of other things on his mind....

"What's the occasion? For our homecoming?"
She lifted her head from his chest and gave him what he privately classified as A Look.
"For Christmas," she said.
"What?" He groped blankly, trying to count the days, but the events of the last three weeks had completely erased his mental calendar. "When?"
"Tomorrow, idiot," she said with exaggerated patience.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33 ("Home for Christmas"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) Here's a quote from one of my favorite scenes in DRUMS, when Claire comes to find Jamie in the snow:

"What if I tell you a story, instead?"
Highlanders loved stories, and Jamie was no exception.
"Oh, aye," he said, sounding much happier. "What sort of story is it?"
"A Christmas story," I said, settling myself along the curve of his body. "About a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge."
"An Englishman, I daresay?"
"Yes," I said. "Be quiet and listen."
I could see my own breath as I talked, white in the dim, cold air. The snow was falling heavily outside our shelter; when I paused in the story, I could hear the whisper of flakes against the hemlock branches, and the far-off whine of wind in the trees.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21 ("Night on a Snowy Mountain"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) I think it's interesting--and rather sad--that Lord John should seek out Nessie, rather than the company of his own family, on Christmas Eve:

“Aye, well, it is Christmas Eve,” she said, answering his unasked question. “Any man wi’ a home to go to’s in it.” She yawned, pulled off her nightcap, and fluffed her fingers through the wild mass of curly dark hair.
“Yet you seem to have some custom,” he observed. Distant singing came from two floors below, and the parlor had seemed well populated when he passed.
“Och, aye. The desperate ones. I leave them to Maybelle to deal with; dinna like to see them, poor creatures. Pitiful. They dinna really want a woman, the ones who come on Christmas Eve--only a fire to sit by, and folk to sit with.”

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24 ("Joyeux Noel"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) The next quote is a reminder that Christmas was viewed differently back then than we think of it today. But of course many of today's Christmas traditions date from the 19th century or later:

Catholic as many of them were--and nominally Christian as they all were--Highland Scots regarded Christmas primarily as a religious observance, rather than a major festive occasion. Lacking priest or minister, the day was spent much like a Sunday, though with a particularly lavish meal to mark the occasion, and the exchange of small gifts.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34 ("Charms"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) I love this quote, even though things didn't turn out the way Roger had expected:

She'd wanted to go to the Christmas Eve services. After that...
After that, he would ask her, make it formal. She would say yes, he knew. And then...
Why, then, they would come home, to a house dark and private. With themselves alone, on a night of sacrament and secret, with love newly come into the world. And he would lift her in his arms and carry her upstairs, on a night when virginity's sacrifice was no loss of purity, but rather the birth of everlasting joy.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17 ("Home for the Holidays"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Wishing all of you the best in this holiday season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Diana's latest blog entry

Check out Diana Gabaldon's latest blog post, which explains in detail all the things she'll be working on over the coming year, and why it will be a while before we see the next OUTLANDER book.
You will get a couple of things in 2010, though: 1) THE EXILE. This is the much-talked-about graphic novel, due out September 28!, 2) a new Lord John novella, "The Custom of the Army" (due in March from Tor books, in an anthology titled WARRIORS), and (probably) 3) "A Leaf on the Wind," a short story in a Penguin anthology titled STAR-CROSSED LOVERS. This one tells the story of what really happened to Roger's father, for those with a particular interest either in MacKenzie family history and/or time-travel. [g]
That's great news about the graphic novel; I don't think we've seen a specific publication date before. And I am very much looking forward to both "Custom of the Army" and "Leaf".

I was intrigued by Diana's question at the very end:
Which is the storyline _you_ most want to see addressed Right Up Front in Book Eight?
In my opinion, Jem in the tunnel is the most urgent of the unresolved storylines. I want to see him get out of there, and then I want to see Brianna eviscerate Rob Cameron! (In that order. <g>)

My second choice would be to see more of William's reaction to the revelation of his paternity.

Jamie and Lord John would come in third. I most definitely DO want to see Jamie's reaction to the news about what happened between Claire and Lord John, but it can wait a bit.

What about the rest of you?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine

I have always been fascinated by the descriptions of 18th-century medicine in Diana Gabaldon's books. I think it helps to see pictures of what these things actually looked like. So, here are a few things I found online:

I think Daniel Rawlings' medical chest (the one that Jamie gave to Claire in DRUMS) must have looked something like the picture shown above.
"There's more," he pointed out, eager to show me. "The front opens and there are wee drawers inside."

There were--containing, among other things, a miniature balance and set of brass weights, a tile for rolling pills, and a stained marble mortar, its pestle wrapped in cloth to prevent its being cracked in transit. Inside the front, above the drawers, were row upon row of small, corked bottles made of stone or glass.

"Oh, they're beautiful!" I said, handling the small scalpel with reverence. The polished wood of the handle fit my hand as though it had been made for me, the blade weighted to an exquisite balance. "Oh, Jamie, thank you!"

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8 ("Man of Worth"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you ever get a chance to visit Colonial Williamsburg, the apothecary's shop there is definitely worth seeing! When I visited there in 2008, I saw a medical chest very much like the one pictured above, sitting on a table in a little room adjoining the main apothecary's shop (see photo here).

Amputation saw and knives - These scary-looking instruments are even more disturbing when you consider that the amputation was being performed without benefit of anesthesia! I can't even imagine Claire contemplating using something like that large saw on Jamie's leg (in FIERY CROSS, after the snakebite).
I bit my lip, looking at the other blades. The biggest was a folding saw, meant for field amputation, with a blade nearly eight inches long; I hadn't used it since Alamance. The thought of using it now made cold sweat spring out under my arms and inch down my sides--but I'd seen his leg.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 91 ("Domestic Management"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Fleam - the picture above shows an 18th century fleam (the device used to open a patient's vein for bleeding). I can't look at that fleam without remembering the scene in FIERY CROSS where Brianna teaches the 18th century doctor, Murray MacLeod, a charm for putting his fleam in boiling water between uses. <g> And then there's Claire's encounter with the governor's wife in ABOSAA:
"I should be let blood," Mrs. Martin declared. "That is the proper treatment for a plethory; dear Dr. Sibelius always says so. Three or four ounces, perhaps, to be followed by the black draught. Dr. Sibelius says he finds the black draught to answer very well in such cases." She moved to an armchair and reclined, her belly bulging under her wrapper. She pulled up the sleeve of the wrapper, extending her arm in languorous fashion. "There is a fleam and bowl in the top left drawer, Mrs. Fraser. If you would oblige me?"

The mere thought of letting blood first thing in the morning was enough to make me want to vomit. As for Dr. Sibelius's black draught, that was laudanum--an alcoholic tincture of opium, and not my treatment of choice for a pregnant woman.

(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 92 ("Amanuensis"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Leeches and maggots are an important part of Claire's medical arsenal.
"Still bleedin' under the skin. Leeches will help, then." She lifted the cover from the bowl, revealing several small dark sluglike objects, an inch or two long, covered with a disagreeable-looking liquid. Scooping out two of them, she pressed one to the flesh just under the brow-bone and the other just below the eye.

"See," she explained to me," once a bruise is set, like, leeches do ye no good. But where ye ha' a swellin' like this, as is still comin' up, that means the blood is flowin' under the skin, and leeches can pull it out."

(From Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6 ("Colum's Hall"). Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a video from Australia on the use of leeches and maggots in modern medicine (note, this is definitely not for the squeamish!)
"What, exactly, is going to stop them eating my entire leg?" Roger asked with a thoroughly spurious attempt at detachment. " spread, don't they?"

"Oh, no," I assured him cheerfully. "Maggots are larval forms; they don't breed. They also don't eat live tissue--only the nasty dead stuff. If there's enough to get them through their pupal cycle, they'll develop into tiny flies and fly off--if not, when the food's exhausted, they'll simply crawl out, searching for more."

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 66 ("Child of My Blood"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Gallberries - these are the very bitter-tasting berries that Claire uses in ABOSAA as a substitute for cinchona bark, to treat Lizzie's malaria.
I picked out one of the dried berries and bit into it. The pungent taste of quinine at once flooded my mouth--accompanied by a copious flood of saliva, as my mouth puckered at the eye-watering bitterness. Gallberry, indeed!

(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 9 ("The Threshold of War"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The picture above shows the seeds of Daucus carota, aka Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot. I believe that these are what Diana's books refer to as "dauco seeds".
It was a small bag of oiled silk, plumply stuffed with something, with a faintly sweet, slightly oily botanical scent about it. A crude picture of a plant had been drawn on the front in brownish ink, something with an upright stalk and what looked like umbels. It looked faintly familiar, but I could put no name to it. I undid the string, and poured a small quantity of tiny dark-brown seeds out into my palm.

"What are these?" I asked, looking up at Polly in puzzlement.

"I don't know what they're called in English," she said. "The Indians call them dauco."

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 10 ("Grannie Bacon's Gifts"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's an article describing how the seeds can be used for contraception.

And finally: If you've read AN ECHO IN THE BONE and you are wondering just what the "jugum penis" may have looked like, the picture above seems very similar to the description in the book. (Although the example above dates from the 19th century, not the 18th, the concept seems very much the same.)
“What on earth is it for?” I asked, more amused than offended by his reaction. “Given the name, obviously—-”

“It prevents” His face by this time was a dark, unhealthy sort of red, and he wouldn’t meet my eye.

“Yes, I imagine it would do that.” The object in question consisted of two concentric circles of metal, the outer one flexible, with overlapping ends, and a sort of key mechanism that enabled it to be tightened. The inner one was sawtoothed— much like a bear trap, as I’d said. Rather obviously, it was meant to be fastened round a limp penis— which would stay in that condition, if it knew what was good for it.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 67 ("Greasier Than Grease"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
As I told Diana when I read that in the book, it sounds to me like a cross between a medieval torture device and some sort of modern-day S&M paraphernalia!

If you find these links interesting, check out my previous "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing

OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs

OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones

OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology

OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry

OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events

OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones

OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife

OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces

OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans

OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday 13 Books

Here are 13 of my favorite minor characters from Diana Gabaldon's books (in no particular order):

1) Mrs. Bug. She always made me laugh. And what happened to her in ECHO was the first of many things I definitely did NOT see coming in that book!

2) Tom Byrd. I love the chemistry between him and Lord John.

3) Lizzie. I love watching her transformation from a scared young girl, so shy she almost couldn't talk, to the self-confident young woman we see in ABOSAA and ECHO.

4) Rachel Hunter. One of my favorite new characters in ECHO, and a remarkable young woman -- intelligent, insightful, and she even gets along well with Rollo! A perfect match for Ian. <g>

5) Master Raymond. An intriguing character, and very mysterious. I hope we see him again in Book Eight.

6) The White Sow. I love watching her antics. She's definitely a scene-stealer, especially in ABOSAA.

7) Tom Christie. I think he's one of those characters who gains more depth on re-reading. I didn't like him much at first, but his sacrifice for Claire in ABOSAA took my breath away.

8) Rob Cameron. I knew he was trouble, almost from the moment he appeared in ECHO. But definitely a memorable character!

9) Laoghaire. Whatever you feel about her, you can't deny that she's had a major influence on the course of the series!

10) Frank Randall. I know a lot of people disagree with this, but in my opinion Frank was an honorable man who got thrown into an impossible situation after Claire came back, and did the best he could with it.

11) Ian the Elder. How lucky Jamie is, to have had such a friend. "Guarding your weak side", indeed.

12) Geillis Duncan. Say what you want about her. Without Geillis, we wouldn't have Roger, or Jemmy, or Mandy, and we wouldn't know anything about the use of gemstones for time-traveling.

13) Geneva Dunsany. For a character who appears so briefly, she really had an enormous impact on the series as a whole.

What about the rest of you? Do you have a favorite "supporting character" or two? And what is it that makes them memorable? (If you want to cite examples from ECHO, please go right ahead.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Leaf on the Wind" is done!

Diana announced on Compuserve yesterday that the short story she's been working on, titled "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", is completed. She says it's about 16,000 words.

This story will be published in an anthology titled SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH. Publication date is November 16, 2010.

For those of you who haven't heard about this story before, it's about Roger MacKenzie's parents, Jerry and Marjorie. You can see several excerpts from "Leaf on the Wind" here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Diana's upcoming projects

Diana Gabaldon posted a list of her upcoming projects for 2010 on Compuserve the other day. These include (in no particular order):

  • The "early phases" of Book 8
  • RED ANT'S HEAD (the contemporary mystery novel featuring Tom Kolodzi)
  • A short story possibly titled "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies"
She also mentioned that the artwork for the graphic novel is done! (And from what I saw when I looked at some sample pages in September, the artwork is just stunning.)

I'm not sure if there is a definite publication date yet for the GN, but I think Diana said it would be out around September 2010 (just in time for ECHO's release in paperback). I'll post here if I find out anything more specific.

I also do not know if the mention of the OC Volume II means that Diana intends to finish it next year, or only make significant progress on it. She has said before, on Compuserve, that it would cover the rest of the books in the series, and possibly also the Lord John books. So, I really don't know if she intends to publish the OC Volume II before she's done writing the rest of the series or not. (If she prefers to wait to publish the OC Volume II until the series is done, then I for one am not in any hurry to see it!)

If you have a comment or a question for Diana about any of these upcoming projects, the thread on Compuserve is here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November poll results

Here are the results of the November poll. The question was "What was your biggest surprise or shock in AN ECHO IN THE BONE?" There are some major spoilers in these poll questions, so I'll leave some spoiler space below, for those of you who have not yet finished the book.

Please take a moment to vote in the December poll, which is about something a little more fun: FOOD! <g> (In keeping with the holiday spirit and all....)













What was your biggest surprise or shock in AN ECHO IN THE BONE?

  • 42.7% - Claire having sex with Lord John
  • 29.4% - William Buccleigh MacKenzie's reappearance
  • 8.8% - Claire marrying Lord John
  • 8.8% - Jem in the tunnel
  • 4.4% - Mrs. Bug's death
  • 1.5% - Death of Ian Sr.
  • 1.5% - Ian falling in love with Rachel
  • 0.7% - William finding out the truth of his paternity
  • 2.2% - Other

For me, there's absolutely no doubt, the Claire-Lord John sex scene was by far the biggest shock in ECHO. (And I am not likely ever to forget it. When I met Diana in Columbia, MD, in September, she signed my copy of ECHO with the inscription, "To Karen, who survived the shock." And it was this particular shock that she was referring to.)

I agree that the appearance of "Buck" at the end of Chapter 70 deserves second place in this poll. That particular plot twist left me stunned.

I was a little surprised to see Ian's death ranked so low in this poll, but I may not have worded the question exactly right. The shock was more in learning that he was dying, and coming to terms with that; by the time Ian actually dies, we as readers have had some time to get used to the idea.

There were 136 votes in this month's poll. Thanks to all of you who participated!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Today, November 27, is the official release date for the German translation of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, titled ECHO DER HOFFNUNG. Congratulations to Diana, and also to Barbara Schnell, her German translator. Translating a book of that size (and doing much of that translation while Diana was still working on the original!) is a huge undertaking, and I'm so happy for Barbara that the book is out at last!

I don't speak or read German, so I asked Barbara (who frequently posts on Compuserve) to explain the German title. She said that ECHO DER HOFFNUNG means "Echo of Hope". And I think it's appropriate, because--despite all the cliffhangers and unresolved storylines--the book ends on such a sweet, romantic (and yes, hopeful) note.

I also noticed, looking at the publisher's description of the book, that the German version is 1024 pages, which is about 25% longer than the original. (Another testament to the enormous effort involved in the translation!) I suppose it just takes more words, or longer ones, in German to express the same concepts?

If you want to learn more about the German edition of ECHO or any of Diana's earlier books, visit And Barbara Schnell also has a web site. Check out her wonderful photography, including some very nice photos of Diana!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A GPS for my birthday!

In honor of my birthday today....a rare post that has nothing much to do with the OUTLANDER books.

I have a notoriously poor sense of direction, and so I have been wanting to get a GPS for a long, long time. My parents bought me one for my birthday this year. Here's what it looks like:

It's a Garmin nuvi 765T, and I am having a lot of fun learning how to use it today. So far, so good. Went to get my driver's license renewed this morning, at a place that's a little complicated to get to. The GPS got me there and back with no problems at all. (And I discovered that it's much easier to read street signs from the little GPS screen on the dashboard than by looking out the window in the pouring rain. <g>)

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! Diana asked for my mailing address this morning because she wants to send me a "wee giftie". I wonder what that could be? Possibly something she picked up during her recent travels? Whatever it is, it's really sweet of her to send me a present.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks from Diana

I was delighted to see this, from Diana, on Compuserve this morning:
I was telling Karen elsewhere that she should be gold-plated and Displayed in Public as the perfect model of The Ideal SL. <g> Wise, tireless, insightful, and patient--and I've never seen anybody online work harder than she has during the two months since ECHO came out!

I HUGELY appreciate her skilful handling of the post-pub process on the book--so smart, dividing the book-threads by chapter chunks (even though tidying discussions back into their proper threads was a full-time job by itself!), and then carefully splitting out separate discussions to keep the size of threads more manageable.

Frankly, I doubt that I can do anything _like_ such a good job--and thank goodness Karen will still be here to help <g>--but now that I'm back from the wars, I can at least take some of the burden off Karen's shoulders, and let her have a little well-earned rest.

So---<applause, applause>....and a standing ovation!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Diana's book-tour is over

Diana Gabaldon's two-month-long book-tour of the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia came to an end today, and she is back home at last!

I am delighted that she has come home for good, because it means that my job as Section Leader in the Diana Gabaldon section of the Compuserve Books & Writers Forum is about to get much, much easier. I do my best to answer questions in Diana's absence, but really, there's no substitute for getting answers directly from Herself. <g> And now that she's no longer a) traveling, or b) under deadline pressure, Diana will have a lot more time to respond to questions and comments on the forum.

It's been an exhilarating, entertaining, and sometimes exhausting two months since AN ECHO IN THE BONE came out. (Has it really only been two months? It feels much longer than that!) I'm delighted by the response to the initial discussions of the book on Compuserve, but at the same time I'm rather worn out by the effort it's taken to keep up with all the posts. I am most definitely in need of a break!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ECHO pictures

Here are some pictures to illustrate some of the scenes in AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

Fort Ticonderoga from Mt Defiance 7-2004

Ft. Ticonderoga, seen from Mt. Defiance

The fort could indeed hold out against standard siege tactics; forage and provisions had been coming in from the surrounding countryside in abundance, and Ticonderoga still had some artillery defenses and the small wooden fort on Mount Independence, as well as a substantial garrison decently supplied with muskets and powder. It could not hold out against major artillery placed on Mount Defiance, though. Jamie had been up there, and told me that the entire interior of the fort was visible— and thus subject to enfiladement at the enemy’s discretion.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 50 ("Exodus"), p. 474. Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Great Dismal Swamp

The Great Dismal Swamp

He was standing in a peat bog; there was spongy vegetation under his feet, but the water rose up over the tops of his boots. He wasn’t sinking, but he couldn’t pull the boots out with his feet still in them and was obliged to draw his feet out one at a time, then wrench the boots free and squelch toward higher ground in his stockings, boots in his hands.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36 ("The Great Dismal"), p. 373. Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Great Dismal - Lake Drummond

Great Dismal Swamp - Lake Drummond

The smooth surface of the water reflected the trees standing in it so perfectly that he could not be sure quite where he himself was, balanced precariously between two looking- glass worlds. He kept losing his sense of up and down, the dizzying sight through the branches of the towering cypress above the same as that below. The trees loomed more than eighty feet over him, and the sight of drifting clouds seeming to sail straight through the gently stirring branches below gave him the constant queer sense that he was about to fall—-up or down, he couldn’t tell. (Chapter 37, p. 379)

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 37 ("Purgatory"), p. 379. Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis
Did you see the aurora borealis when you were here, or was it too early in the Year? It is a most remarkable Sight. Snow has fallen all Day, but ceased near Sunset and the Sky has cleared. From my Window, I see a northern Exposure, and there is presently an amazing shimmer that fills the whole Sky, waves of pale blue and some green— though I have seen it to be red sometimes— that swirl like Drops of Ink spilt in Water and stirred.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24 ("Joyeux Noel"), p. 252. Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This site, from which the above picture was taken, has lots of amazing aurora pictures from Quebec. Check it out!

Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder

Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder, Scotland
Brianna paused by the fish-viewing chamber. It wasn’t yet the breeding season, when—she’d been told—the great salmon swarmed through the chutes of the fish ladder that allowed them to climb the dam at Pitlochry, but now and then a silvery flash shot into view with heart- stopping suddenness, fighting strongly against the current for a moment before shooting up into the tube that led to the next stage of the ladder. The chamber itself was a small white housing let into the side of the fish ladder, with an algae-clouded window. She’d paused there to gather her thoughts—or, rather, to suppress some of them—before going in to the dam.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Ley Lines"), p. 451. Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The Old High

The Old High Church, Inverness, Scotland
"Anyway, I’d sat down outside the High Street Church, for I knew that place, at least, and thought I’d go and ask the minister for a bite of bread when I’d got myself a bit more in hand. I was that wee bit rattled, ken,” he said, leaning confidentially toward Brianna.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 72 ("The Feast of All Saints"), p. 625. Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The congregation of St. Stephen's, where Roger got a job as choirmaster, is the "sister church" of the 18th century kirk pictured above.

Want to see more?

If you like these, please check out my previous blog entries:

Historical Figures Mentioned in ECHO

OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones

OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife

OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces

OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans

OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish

OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina

OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden

What Do These Things Look Like?

Finally, I just found out that Jari Backman's Google Earth OUTLANDER page has been updated to include places mentioned in ECHO. Thanks Jari! (If you have Google Earth installed, this is definitely worth seeing.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A little news

Diana is in the middle of her Australian book-tour, but she took the time to post a couple of very interesting items on Compuserve earlier this week.


Here's what Diana had to say about LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, the next Lord John novel, which she plans to work on in 2010 (along with Book 8):
Now, at the moment, I know pretty much _nothing_ about that book other than the title--but I do know something about the structure. I see it as a two-person book, with two alternating points of view: John's and Jamie's. I don't know that I've ever seen the "shape" of a book before writing it <g>--and I certainly don't have the internal shape of this one--but I do have a distinct feel of tectonic plate movement about it: big land-masses slowly colliding and sliding past each other, with the movement causing subsidence, orogeny, and volcanic eruptions.
I love the idea that half of this book will be told from Jamie's POV!

But I do hope someone tells Jeff Woodman (narrator of the Lord John audiobooks) about this, far enough in advance that he'll come up with a better Jamie-voice for SCOTTISH PRISONER than the one he used in BOTB, which I did not like at all.

"Leaf on the Wind" Excerpt

Diana also posted a new excerpt from the short story she's writing about Roger MacKenzie's parents, titled "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows".

Please keep in mind that I personally DO NOT peek at excerpts, except for the Lord John books; I haven't read this one, and I'm not planning to. If you want to comment on it, please post in the thread on Compuserve, or go to the LOL Excerpt Board. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Here are the rest of the differences I found between OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH. Please note, all quotes from OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH listed below are copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.

All page references below come from either the CROSS STITCH mass-market paperback edition, or the OUTLANDER hardcover edition.


From the scene where Murtagh and Claire are talking over breakfast at Lallybroch:
"Did she think I might be a witch?" I asked curiously.
(OUTLANDER p. 475)
I took a deep breath, almost fearing to ask what must come next. I had tried as hard as I could to forget those few moments near the loch, but the memory of Geillis Duncan was impossible to escape. A murderous woman, and plainly mad, but courageous nonetheless, and linked to me in a way that could not be denied, no matter what I felt for Geillis herself.
'And...Mrs. Duncan?' I asked softly. Murtagh paused for a moment, long enough to scratch one stubbled cheek, then bent his attention to mopping up the last dribble of honey on his plate with a blunt forefinger.
'Imprisoned,' he said briefly. 'Till the babe's born.'
'Imprisoned? You don't mean...not the thieves' hole?' The thought of anyone spending weeks and months in frigid darkness, let alone a pregnant woman, was appalling. The ivory bracelets clicked softly together as I clasped my hands in my lap.
Murtagh shook his head, still not looking at me.
'Nay. In the castle. Callum will keep her under ward, until the time to deliver her to the examiners.' He glanced at me then, with what might be a flicker of compassion.
'Dinna fret yourself; Mrs. Fitz will care for her--and the wean, when it's born. She'll find it a good home.'
This thought was a comfort, if a small one. I would trust Mrs. Fitz with my own wean, if I had one.
"Did she believe I was a witch--Mrs. Fitz, I mean?"
I asked curiously.
(CROSS STITCH pp. 655-56)
Almost a whole page, that doesn't appear at all in OUTLANDER. Verrry interesting! <g> But note that this version of events is contradicted by what we learn in VOYAGER, from Geillie herself, about how and where she spent the last part of her pregnancy.

Ronald MacNab arrives at Lallybroch riding a "garron" (CS p. 657), not a mule as in OUTLANDER.

This next quote makes me laugh, because I can't see the phrase "Lady of Lallybroch" without thinking of the fan site LOL.
"To be lady of a manor, or to sleep in the fields like a gypsy?" (OUTLANDER p. 480)
"To be Lady of Lallybroch, or to sleep in the fields like a gypsy?" (CS p. 661)

Several references to Beauly have been removed or altered:
"And the winter would set in shortly, making travel to Beauly impossible"
"No, most likely northeast, toward Beauly." (OUTLANDER p. 499)

"And the winter would set in shortly, making travel impossible."
"No, most likely northeast, towards Leoch." (CS p. 687)
This next bit seems to be a follow-up to the scene I mentioned earlier, telling the story of what happened to Geillis Duncan:
"Sent to the devil in a pllar of flame, under the branches of a rowan tree."
'I thought she wasn't to...die until after the baby was born.'
He glanced at me, still smiling, but I noticed the trickle of sweat making its way down the side of his neck.
'It's come. The wean was birthed afore time. Small, but a bonny boy nonetheless, strong and kicking, and yelling for the breast at once. He's his mother's eyes, the wee devil.'

I thought at first this merciless recitation of detail was meant to impress me, but I was wrong. (CS p. 699)
The part in red is missing from my OUTLANDER hardcover. (But say hello to Roger's ancestor, William Buccleigh MacKenzie <g>)


BJR's aide, Marley, is described as an "orderly" in OUTLANDER, but the word isn't used in CROSS STITCH as far as I can tell. For example:
Jamie whirled away and feinted with the stool, forcing the orderly back toward the door. (OUTLANDER p. 530)
Jamie whirled away and feinted with the stool, forcing the man back towards the door. (CS p. 730)

Spelling purists might disagree about this next one <g>:
"two large whiskys" (CS p. 754)
"two large whiskies" (OUTLANDER p. 547)
This one, I only noticed because the word "glowing" caught my eye, and I was surprised, when I went to check, that there was indeed a difference in the text, though it wasn't what I'd thought:
"the lovely glowing Sheraton desk in the corner" (OUTLANDER p. 551)
"the lovely glowing walnut desk in the corner" (CS p. 759)
This might be British usage, but apparently a thumb doesn't count as a finger? As an American, this seems odd to me.
"All five fingers eventually lay straight as new pins" (OUTLANDER p. 554)
"All five digits eventually lay straight as new pins" (CS p. 764)

Note the changed geographical reference:
"insure our passage across the Channel." (OUTLANDER p. 564)
"insure our passage across the North Sea." (CS p. 777)
This last one is just strange, and misses the whole point of Claire's question, IMHO:
"if he knows he's going to be seasick, why in God's name did he insist on a boat?" (OUTLANDER p. 568)
"if he knows he's going to be seasick, why in God's name did he insist on travelling to France?" (CS p. 783)

A few very minor things in the Abbey section of the book:

"Matins" in OUTLANDER (p. 573) becomes "Prime" in CROSS STITCH (p. 790)

"broth" (OUTLANDER) becomes "soup" (CS) in at least half a dozen places that I noticed (p. 795, for example)


"Alex" (OUTLANDER) becomes "Alick" (CS) - this becomes very obvious toward the end of the book, because Jamie's uncle Alex the abbot, and BJR's brother Alex, and Alex MacGregor, are all called "Alick" in CROSS STITCH. ("Tell me that you love me, Alick", CS p. 845, for example.)

Here's one more changed geographical reference:
"on this side of the sea" (CS p. 846)
"on this side of the channel" (OUTLANDER p. 614)

And so I've come to the end of the book at last. This has been a very interesting experience, reading CROSS STITCH, but I still say I like OUTLANDER better.

I hope you've found these posts helpful. If you want to see the changes I found in earlier parts of the book, look here:



Sunday, November 8, 2009


Here are some more of the differences between OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH.

All page references below come from either the CROSS STITCH mass-market paperback edition, or the OUTLANDER hardcover edition. Please note, all quotes from OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH listed below are copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.


Here is a bit that Diana has specifically mentioned as being altered without her knowledge in CROSS STITCH:
'You look like a fretful porpentine,' I said.
'Whatever that might be,' He gave me a dirty look and rose to his feet, replacing the dirk on the stool that held his clothes.
'You couldna wait till I woke to tell me that?' he inquired. 'You thought it would make more impression if ye woke me out of a sound sleep by shouting in my ear?'
'Horrocks', I explained.

(CS p. 426)
"You look like a fretful porpentine," I said.
He gave me a dirty look and rose to his feet, replacing the dirk on the stool that held his clothes.
"You couldna wait till I woke to tell me that?" he inquired. "You thought it would make more impression if ye woke me out of a sound sleep by shouting "Hedgehog!" in my ear?"
"Not 'hedgehog' ", I explained. "Horrocks."

(OUTLANDER p. 306)
Whatever that might be?? Jamie's a university-educated man, fluent in Latin, Greek, and any number of other languages; surely he'd be familiar with Shakespeare? (More familiar than the UK editor who added that line, evidently!) The way it's written in CS, Jamie reacts as though Claire had said, "You look like you've just stuck your finger in an electrical outlet", or some other 20th-century reference that would leave him understandably baffled. And the removal of the "hedgehog" bit just makes Claire's mention of Horrocks sound like a complete non sequitur.

"I floated gently to the surface of reality, and found that the butterfly feet against my stomach were the flaming tendrils of Jamie's soft red thatch, and the butterfly trapped between my thighs was his tongue." (OUTLANDER, p. 336)

"I floated gently to the surface of reality, and found that the butterfly feet on my shoulder were the flaming tendrils of Jamie's soft red thatch, and the butterfly wings on my skin were his fingers." (CS p. 467)

I suppose this is the scene Diana has talked about where they asked her to rewrite it "so that it looks like they're having normal sex"?

"Young Jocasta, only fifteen, had obligingly accepted the suit of John Cameron, and gone north." (OUTLANDER p. 346)

"Young Jocasta, only fifteen, had obligingly accepted the suit of John Munro, and gone north." (CS p. 479)

Munro?! Um, no. <g> I would imagine this is pretty confusing for readers who've only seen CROSS STITCH, in light of what we learn about Jocasta in future books.

"There was the great to-do about it all, and a lot of verra nasty letters exchanged between Leoch and Beauly, but they settled it in the end, and Ellen and Brian took up house at Lallybroch the week before the child was born." (OUTLANDER p. 349)

"There was the great to-do about it all, and a lot of verra nasty letters exchanged between Leoch and Lallybroch, but they settled it in the end, and Ellen and Brian took up house at Lallybroch the week before the child was born." (CS p. 483)

Granted, it's not until DRAGONFLY that we learn the significance of Beauly (where Lord Lovat lives), but still, it's very clear to me that Diana meant Beauly (whether it would mean anything to the readers or not, at that stage), because at least some of the letters in question would presumably have been exchanged between Brian's father, Lord Lovat, and Colum MacKenzie. Referring to Lallybroch in this context makes no sense.

As I told Diana on Compuserve, I don't mean to nitpick. But CROSS STITCH is starting to drive me just a bit nuts, with all the details that have been changed for no apparent reason.


Claire's thoughts in the thieves' hole:

"And given Callum's fear that I might reveal Hamish's parentage, or what he thought I knew of it, what he had done to me -- his not lifting a finger to help me -- was understandable too. Understandable, but not forgivable." (CS p. 552)
The part in red in that first sentence is not in my OUTLANDER hardcover.
"there were no enormous stretches of concrete blanketing the countryside, nor any noisy, stinking autos...." (OUTLANDER p. 412)
"there were no enormous stretches of road blanketing the countryside, nor any noisy, stinking cars...." (CS p. 570)
The little house near Craigh na Dun is referred to as a "cottage" in OUTLANDER, but a "cot-house" in CROSS STITCH. When I mentioned this on Compuserve, Diana said she'd never encountered the term "cot-house", either in British novels or in her research.


From the scene where Jenny has just grabbed Jamie by the balls:
"I'll wring your wee neck, Janet!" (OUTLANDER p. 425)
"I'll wring your wee neck, Jenny!" (CS p. 588)
Gotta say, I like "Janet" better in this context!
"Frasers dinna listen to anything when they've their danders up. I've been acquent' wi' those two all my life, and I know. When they've shouted themselves out, sometimes ye can make them see reason, but not 'til then." (CS p. 592)
The part in red above is not in my OUTLANDER hardcover.

"I'm none too worried, man. There's no coach going before next April, and I reckon she'll be used to us by that time. Get on wi' ye; Jamie's waiting." (OUTLANDER p. 435)
The sentence in blue has been cut from CROSS STITCH. Too bad. I like that line.

Jamie's brother's name is spelled "Willy" in CS, not "Willie" as in OUTLANDER.
Staring absently out at the driving rain, he said, "There was another reason. The main one." (OUTLANDER p. 438)
Staring absently out at the rain, he abruptly said, "I told you once I'd tell you the other reason. Do ye want to know?" (CS p. 607)
I really don't understand this. Why tinker with a sentence like that, that was perfectly good and understandable in the original version?


Ian's line about swimming has changed in CROSS STITCH:
"I just thrash about, and gang in circles like a doodle-bug." (OUTLANDER p. 442)
"I just thrash about, and gang in circles like a spider wi' four legs." (CS p. 612)
The scene where Claire meets Grannie MacNab is quite different:
"Mallow root--ah, that's good for cough. But ye dinna want to use that one, lassie." She poked at a small brownish tuber. "Looks like lily root, but it isna that."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Adder's-tongue. Eat that one, lassie, and ye'll be rollin' round the room wi' your heels behind yer head." She plucked the tuber from the basket and threw it into the pond with a splash.
She pulled the basket onto her lap....
[next bit is identical in both versions]
"Ye ken betony from lamb's-quarters, at least."
(OUTLANDER p. 447)
"Coltsfoot root--ah, that's good for cough." She pulled the basket onto her lap....
[next bit is identical in both versions]
"Ye ken caraway from cowbane, at least."
(CS p. 618)
All the references to Jamie as "his lordship" (a perfectly proper and respectable way to speak of the laird, isn't it?) in this scene have been replaced by "Lallybroch":
"I see Lallybroch didna wed ye for your face alone." (CS p. 618)
"I see his lordship didna wed ye for your face alone." (OUTLANDER p. 448)
And then Grannie MacNab says this to Claire:
"you'll be swellin' like a pumpkin by Easter" (OUTLANDER p. 449)
"you'll be swellin' like a ewe wi' triplets by Easter" (CS p. 620)
I guess you could argue that pumpkins are too obviously North American in origin for someone like Grannie MacNab to be familiar with them?

If you find this interesting, please check out my other posts in this series:



Saturday, November 7, 2009


As some of you who follow the discussions on Compuserve may be aware, in recent weeks I have been reading CROSS STITCH for the first time (thanks again to Judy Lowstuter for bringing me a copy from Scotland!) and finding myself alternately fascinated and horrified by the differences between OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH. (And I'm not the only one, judging by the reaction on Compuserve. You can see the thread here, if you're interested.)

I had always thought that the only difference between the two books (aside from minor changes in spelling, punctuation, and word choice to conform to British standards -- "vacation" becomes "holiday", single quotes used instead of double quotes in dialogue, and so on) were a half-dozen added references to Frank, and the sex scene in Chapter 22 ("Raiders in the Rocks") which was deleted from CROSS STITCH at the UK editor's request. And in fact, those are the only changes that Diana usually mentions, when asked about the differences.

Much to my surprise, I'm finding quite a few other changes, most of them minor, but some that change the entire tone or emphasis of a scene from the way it appears in the original.

I won't attempt to list every single difference here! I didn't write most of them down, for one thing, and for another, I have no interest in combing through the text word-by-word looking for every single place where changes occurred! The examples I've listed here are things that have jumped out at me during the reading of CROSS STITCH.

The first thing I noticed was that the "horses" in OUTLANDER have become "ponies" in CROSS STITCH. Almost as though someone did a search-and-replace throughout the whole book. Very odd.

A few of the characters' names are spelled differently in CROSS STITCH: Alick instead of Alec, and Callum instead of Colum. And if you've read the OUTLANDISH COMPANION, you won't be surprised to hear that the date at the beginning of CROSS STITCH says 1946, not 1945. (Personally, I think 1946 makes a lot more sense.)

Here are some of the specific examples I've noticed where OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH are different. Please note, all quotes from OUTLANDER and CROSS STITCH listed below are copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.


The scene where Claire sees Jamie's scars for the first time is missing about a page in CROSS STITCH:

"Lobsterbacks. For escape and theft."
I didn't know what to say to this, so said the first thing that came to mind.
"What were you escaping from?"
(CROSS STITCH mass market paperback, p. 95)
"Lobsterbacks. Flogged me twice, in the space of a week. They'd ha' done it twice the same day, I expect, were they not afraid of killing me. No joy in flogging a dead man."
I tried to keep my voice steady while I sponged. "I shouldn't think anyone would do such a thing for joy."
"No? You should ha' seen him."
"The redcoat captain that skinned my back for me. If he was not precisely joyous, he was at least verra pleased with himself. More nor I was," he added wryly. "Randall was the name."
"Randall!" I couldn't keep the shock from my voice. Cold blue eyes fixed on mine.
"You're familiar with the man?" The voice was suddenly suspicious.
"No, no! I used to know a family of that name, a long time, oh, a long time ago." In my nervousness, I dropped the sponge cloth.
"Drat, now that will have to be boiled again." I scooped it off the floor and bustled to the fireplace, trying to hide my confusion in busyness. Could this Captain Randall possibly be Frank's ancestor, the soldier with the sterling record, gallant on the field of battle, recipient of commendations from dukes? And if so, could someone related to my sweet gentle Frank possibly be capable of inflicting the horrifying marks on this lad's back?
I busied myself at the fire, dropping in a few more handfuls of witch hazel and garlic, setting more cloths to soak. When I thought I could control my voice and face, I came back to Jamie, sponge in hand.
"Why were you flogged?" I asked abruptly.
It was hardly tactful, but I badly wanted to know, and was too tired to phrase it more gently.
He sighed, moving his shoulder uneasily under my ministrations. He was tired, too, and I was undoubtedly hurting him, gentle as I tried to be.
"The first time was escape, and the second was theft--or at least that's what the charge sheet read."
"What were you escaping from?"
OUTLANDER, pp. 60-61 hardcover ed.)

I think the altered scene comes off as MUCH less horrific than the original.


In the scene where Claire meets Geillie, she's collecting wood sorrel instead of the scarlet-capped Ascaria mushrooms in OUTLANDER:

"Those kind are poison," said a voice from behind me." (OUTLANDER, p. 117 hardcover ed.)
"Those are good for helping the monthlies," said a voice from behind me." (CROSS STITCH mass market paperback, p. 171)

I don't like this change at all, because it seems to make Claire less...exotic? dangerous? In OUTLANDER, Claire is collecting poisonous mushrooms. On purpose (!) And she explains to Geillie exactly what she intends to do with them. In CROSS STITCH, Claire is just collecting medicinal herbs, which would not be at all unusual for the time. That little scene has a different feel, in the original, at least to me.


In the scene just before the wedding, when Claire is walking with the others toward the chapel where she and Jamie will be married, she has a flashback of her wedding to Frank, which is definitely not in my OUTLANDER hardcover:

Thus inescapably pinioned, I squelched up the path to my wedding.
Last time -- next time? -- I had been married in a white linen suit with alligator pumps. Frank had worn grey Harris tweed. I caught myself thinking wildly of Uncle Lamb, who had witnessed the wedding.
'Pity to waste the surroundings with this modern stuff,' he had said, casually patting Frank's tweed sleeve. 'It's a genuine eighteenth-century Scottish chapel, you know. You ought to have got yourselves up appropriately, kilts and dirks and long gowns and such.' Looking up at the formidable sight of my intended bridegroom, I had a sudden unhinged vision of Uncle Lamb nodding approvingly.
'Much better,' he said, in my imagination. 'Just the thing.
Rupert and Murtagh were waiting for us in the chapel....
(CROSS STITCH mass market paperback, pp. 273-274)
The part in red above is completely new to me. And interesting, because I see echoes of future events in the series here. Uncle Lamb being present "in spirit" at Claire's wedding to Jamie, just as Frank was present, in spirit, at Bree's wedding in FIERY CROSS. And Claire's fetch standing between Jamie and Laoghaire, at their wedding. I think it's a nice touch to have Claire thinking of Uncle Lamb here.


Here's the bit from chapter 18 ("Raiders in the Rocks") that got cut out of CROSS STITCH:

"Fun, I said, a little faintly. "Yes, quite."
His arms tightened around me, and one of the stroking hands dipped lower, beginning to inch my skirt upward. Clearly the thrill of the fight was being transmuted into a different kind of excitement.
"Jamie! Not here!" I said, squirming away and pushing my skirt down again.
"Are ye tired, Sassenach?" he asked with concern. "Dinna worry, I won't take long." Now both hands were at it, rucking the heavy fabric up in front.
"No!" I replied, all too mindful of the twenty men lying a few feet away. "I'm not tired, it's just--" I gasped as his groping hand found its way between my legs.
"Lord," he said softly. "It's slippery as waterweed."
"Jamie! There are twenty men sleeping right next to us!" I shouted in a whisper.
"They wilna be sleeping long, if you keep talking." He rolled on top of me, pinning me to the rock. His knee wedged between my thighs and began to work gently back and forth. Despite myself, my legs were beginning to loosen. Twenty-seven years of propriety were no match for several hundred thousand years of instinct. While my mind might object to being taken on a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body plainly considered itself the spoils of war and was eager to complete the formalities of surrender. He kissed me, long and deep, his tongue sweet and restless in my mouth.
[etc.... <g>]
I was mildly shocked to realize that I was not even embarrassed. I wondered rather dimly whether I would be in the morning, and then wondered no more.
In the morning, everyone behaved as usual....
(OUTLANDER pp. 250-251 hardcover ed.)
The part in red is all that's left in CROSS STITCH. Really a shame that this scene got cut out!


Another major difference appears to be an attempt to correct (?) the geographical references in chapter 20 ("Deserted Glades").

So that was east. My heart began to beat faster. East was over there, Lag Cruime was directly behind me. Lag Cruime was four miles to the north of Fort William. And Fort William was no more than three miles due west of the hill of Craigh na Dun.
So, for the first time since my meeting with Murtagh, I knew approximately where I was--no more than seven miles from that bloody hill and its accursed stone circle. Seven miles--perhaps--from home. From Frank.

I started back into the copse, but changed my mind."
(OUTLANDER p. 268 hardcover ed.)
So that was east. My heart began to beat faster. If we were as close as I thought to Fort William, then if I followed this small stream, I would eventually reach the Great Glen. And the Great Glen, whatever dangers it held in terms of wild beasts, outlaws and potential starvation, also provided a direct connection between Fort William and Inverness. And near Inverness was the hill I had dreamed of for weeks -- Craigh na Dun.
I clenched my fists, feeling the nails dig into my palms. It was the hell of a risk. It could take weeks to make that journey on foot. And I had no shelter other than the cloak I wore, and no food whatever. I would have to depend on what I could find, steal or beg. And run the risks attendant on stealing or begging; any cottars in the Glen were unlikely to receive me with less caution than had Callum MacKenzie.

I started back into the copse, but changed my mind."
(CROSS STITCH mass market paperback, p. 374)
I can understand the details being changed in order to make the distances and locations more realistic to readers familiar with Scotland (and I know very little about Scotland's geography so I can't comment on that <g>), but I think the idea that Claire would set out on foot, with no food or water, no shelter, no NOTHING, for a journey that might take weeks, is ridiculous. In OUTLANDER, it makes sense, because she's only a short distance from Craigh na Dun and therefore food, water, and shelter won't be a consideration. In CROSS STITCH, the situation as described above makes her look like a reckless fool, IMHO, which we know she's not. <g>


In the story that Jamie tells about the incident where he was beaten by Angus in Colum's Hall at the age of 16, the reference to Mrs. Fitz is completely gone from the scene in CROSS STITCH, and Jamie's description of what happened is missing many of the details:
"So one day I went too far. Said the wrong thing to the wrong person and came up for judgement before Callum at Hall." He chuckled to himself.
[description of Angus beating him]
He shuddered reminiscently.
[next paragraph is identical in both versions]
"Then I was plunked down on a stool next to Callum, and bid to sit there till Hall was ended."
(CROSS STITCH mass market paperback, pp. 414-15)
"So one day I went too far. I was with a couple of the other lads, going down a corridor when I saw Mistress FitzGibbons at the other end....[then the bit about what Jamie said about her] I didn't know she'd heard, until she got up at the Hall gathering next day and told Colum all about it."
"Oh, dear." I knew how highly Colum regarded Mrs. Fitz, and didn't think he would take any irreverence directed at her lightly. "What happened?"
"The same thing that happened to Laoghaire--or almost." He chuckled.

[description of Angus beating him]
He shuddered reminiscently. "I had the marks for a week."
[next paragraph is identical in both versions]
"Well, I wasna allowed just to go quietly away and tend to my wounds, either. When Angus finished wi' me, Dougal took me by the scruff of the neck and marched me to the far end of the Hall. Then I was made to come all the way back on my knees, across the stones. I had to beg Mrs. Fitz's pardon, then Colum's, then apologize to everyone in the Hall for my rudeness, and finally, I'd to thank Angus for the strapping. I nearly choked over that, but he was verra gracious about it; he reached down and gave me a hand to get up. Then I was plunked down on a stool next to Colum, and bid to sit there till Hall was ended."
(OUTLANDER p. 296-97 hardcover ed.)
Again, this seems to be a scene that got toned down for the UK market. Very strange.

If you find this interesting, please check out my other posts in this series:



Sunday, November 1, 2009

October poll results

Here are the results of the October poll:

Which of the books in the OUTLANDER series is your favorite?

  • OUTLANDER - 41.9%
  • I can't possibly pick one; I love them all! - 29.3%
  • VOYAGER - 15.3%
  • DRUMS OF AUTUMN - 3.3%
  • AN ECHO IN THE BONE - 1.6%
  • THE FIERY CROSS - 0.8%
  • I haven't yet read any of Diana Gabaldon's books - 0.4%
I didn't vote in this poll, but my own answer would be a three-way tie between OUTLANDER, VOYAGER, and FIERY CROSS.

There were 246 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

The November poll is about your biggest shock or surprise in reading ECHO. Please feel free to leave a comment here, if I didn't list one that you would have liked to see.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Here are some Halloween-themed quotes from the OUTLANDER books.

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.)
Claire and Roger on Halloween night, 1968:
"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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
Here's one of the creepiest moments in the whole series, in my opinion:
"We should go before moonrithe," she said softly. "She cometh out then."

An icy ripple ran straight up my spine, and Jamie jerked, head snapping round to look at the darkened house. The fire had gone out, and no one had thought to close the open door; it gaped like an empty eye socket.

"She who?" Jamie asked, a noticeable edge in his voice.

"Mary Ann," Mrs. Beardsley answered. "She was the latht one." There was no emphasis whatever in her voice; she sounded like a sleepwalker.

"The last what?" I asked.

"The latht wife," she replied, and picked up her reins. "She thtands under the rowan tree at moonrithe."

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29 ("One-Third of a Goat"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And finally....I don't care how many times I've read this, it still sends a chill up my spine, every time.
"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.)
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Australia and NZ tour information

Here are a couple of links I found with information on Diana Gabaldon's upcoming book-tour of New Zealand and Australia:

New Zealand (November 2-6) - scroll down on this page to see Diana's tour information

Australia (November 9-20)

I hope those of you Down Under find this information helpful. If anybody has any more details, feel free to post a comment here!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Upcoming Gabaldon short story

Diana Gabaldon is wrapping up the Canadian leg of her book-tour this weekend. She will be heading to Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of November.

You'd think she wouldn't have time to write anything at all, with all the traveling, book-signings, etc. Well, in fact, she is currently working on a short story about Roger MacKenzie's parents! This story, titled "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", will be published in an anthology called SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

There is an excerpt from the story here.

I don't have any information on a publication date, but I will post here as soon as I hear something more definite. Diana is not quite done with the story, but hopes to have it finished soon.

In the meantime, if you want to comment on the story, or ask Diana about it, the thread on Compuserve is here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Claire!

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday, Claire!

Happy Birthday to Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser, who would be 91 years old today (October 20th).

I've been so busy lately that I completely lost track of what day it is, so I'm a little late in posting this, but I wouldn't want to let this day pass without comment. So, here are a few thoughts I had about Claire on the occasion of her last birthday:

What I Like About Claire

ECHO Audio CDs

My copy of the ECHO audio CDs finally arrived today! I probably won't start listening to them for a while (I'm taking a break from ECHO for a few days -- see below for details) but will load them on my iPod this week.


Many thanks to Judy Lowstuter of Celtic Journeys Tours for sending me a copy of CROSS STITCH! I'd never seen the UK version of the book before, and I have really been enjoying all the little differences (subtle and not-so-subtle) between CROSS STITCH and OUTLANDER. When I'm finished reading it, I'll post my impressions here, including some of the more obvious changes, additions, and deletions.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Favorite quotes from ECHO

Here are some of my favorite quotes from AN ECHO IN THE BONE.


If you haven't finished the book, you WILL encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.









All of the quotes below are taken from AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon. Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.
“Would you care to explain to me exactly which aspects of plant inspection require a penis?” (Chapter 16, "Unarmed Conflict", p. 148)
I love this line. Go Bree!
"I am the son of a great man.”
The hook touched Jamie’s hand, hard and capable.
“I wish for nothing more.”
(Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth", p. 182)
One of the best Fergus moments in the entire series. Just wonderful!
“Be careful, Sassenach,” he said, still grinning. “Ye dinna want to knock off any more pieces; ye’ll only have to stick them back on, aye?”
“Don’t bloody tempt me."
(Chapter 62, "One Just Man", p. 549)
I love it when Jamie teases Claire. But it's her reply that makes me laugh out loud.
“Ever heard of coup de foudre, Sassenach? It didna take me more than one good look at you.” (Chapter 68, "Despoiler", p. 602)
This is a terrific line. I hadn't heard the term before I read ECHO, but having looked up the definition, now I'm sure I won't ever forget it. Boy, is that ever appropriate!
“If you find out who she’s sleeping with and don’t tell me, I will kill you.”
(Chapter 78, "Old Debts", p. 671)
A reminder (as if we needed one!) that Claire is not a woman to be messed with.
“Where d’ye think he is now?” Jenny said suddenly. “Ian, I mean.”
He glanced at the house, then at the new grave waiting, but of course that wasn’t Ian anymore. He was panicked for a moment, his earlier emptiness returning—-but then it came to him, and, without surprise, he knew what it was Ian had said to him.
On your right, man.” On his right. Guarding his weak side.
“He’s just here,” he said to Jenny, nodding to the spot between them. “Where he belongs.”
(Chapter 84, "The Right of It", p. 712)
I just LOVE this bit, with the deliberate "echo" of Ian's line in DRAGONFLY, which has long been my favorite Ian quote of the whole series.
"Like forgiveness, it was not a thing once learned and then comfortably put aside but a matter of constant practice—-to accept the notion of one’s own mortality, and yet live fully, was a paradox worthy of Socrates."
(Chapter 94, "The Paths of Death", p. 774)
Diana has said, on Compuserve, that the one-word theme of this book is "mortality". I don't think that theme is stated as succinctly, or as eloquently, anywhere else in the book.
Fuirich agus chi thu.”
“What?” He stared at me.
“Gaelic,” I said, with a small, deep twinge. “It means ‘Wait and see.’”
(Chapter 98, "Mischianza", p. 794)
This is an inside joke that few people outside of Diana's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum will understand. The explanation goes like this: One of Diana's favorite phrases, in response to questions, is "Wait and see." About a year ago, Cathy MacGregor posted the Gaelic translation of this phrase, and a number of us, including Diana, have been using "fuirich agus chi thu" in the discussions there ever since. I was delighted to see it in print!
"Something like a geyser rose up inside me and burst in my head, the spray of it sparkling with sunlight and diamonds."
(Chapter 102, "Bred in the Bone", p. 809)
I love this description.
“Thee is a wolf, too, and I know it. But thee is my wolf, and best thee know that.”
(Chapter 103, "The Hour of the Wolf", p. 814)
How wonderful for Ian that he's found a woman who loves and appreciates him for who he is! I thought this was just the right note on which to end the book.