ECHO: Claire and Lord John (Part 2)
* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *
Don't read further if you haven't yet finished the book! There are some major spoilers here.
Some more of my reactions and thoughts on the Claire/Lord John situation:
Chapter 94 - "Paths of Death"
"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." (p. 794)
I love this quote. <g> And if the theme of ECHO is indeed "mortality", then I don't think it's stated as succinctly or as eloquently anywhere else in the book.
"the flame of her his candle in the dark" - Wonderful image, and I can't believe I missed that the first time.
Twenty years later, and Jamie still feels guilty over his role in Geneva's death. I'm not a bit surprised. And I am just as intrigued as everybody else here about the nameless girl in France; can't wait to find out the details of that in the graphic novel. <g>
Interesting that the thought of Bree is what pulls Claire back from the brink of suicide. It's entirely appropriate for Claire to be thinking about her return after Culloden, the last time she'd felt this sort of despair. "There were those who needed me--or at least to whom I could be useful" (p. 775) -- to me, this has echoes <g> of Jamie's line in ABOSAA, "You must continue, for their sake, though you would not, for your own."
"my heart echoed in my ears with the doom of distant drums" - I like that.
Chapter 95 - "Numbness"
Claire's brief flashback ("Bruise me") on pp. 776-77 was intriguing. I could really feel her struggling to find some solidity, some anchor in a world spinning out of control. And of course Jamie has always been that anchor for her; it's only natural that she would reach out to him in an effort to sort of re-orient herself. And I see now (as I didn't, really, the first time, because I was reading much too fast) that she's longing for Jamie, with every fiber of her being. I also see, as I did not before, that she's really been drinking quite a lot. <g> (As has John, for that matter.)
And then, of course, she wakes to find that the world really HAS spun out of control. <g>
I get the fact that both of them were making love to Jamie, not to each other. Not sure Jamie will appreciate the, um, metaphysical aspects of that....but on the other hand, he just might. He and Claire have both had experience with making love to a ghost -- he in Laoghaire's bed, she in Frank's. Or Jamie with Mary MacNab, who wished only to keep Claire alive for him. I think Jamie and Claire will reconcile over this pretty quickly. Their marriage has survived much worse shocks.
The discussion of Jamie's offer to Lord John (p. 779) - "Selflessness does carry its own reward--for if I *had* taken him, that would have destroyed forever what did exist between us." He's right, of course; I'm thinking about Jamie's telling his own side of this story, where he tells Claire that if John had accepted his offer and Jamie had discovered his intentions re Willie to be less than honorable, "I should have broken his neck there by the lake." (ABOSAA chapter 9, "The Threshold of War", p. 70 in the hardcover)
I like this bit on p. 780 - "[I] so urgently wanted him to be Jamie that I had succeeded for an instant in thinking that he was, only to be crushed like a grape at the realization that he wasn't, all my soft insides spurting out." And I see another echo here, of the scene in ABOSAA where Claire wakes after her illness to find her hair gone: "Grief simply burst from me, like wine spraying from a wineskin stabbed with a knife." (ABOSAA chapter 64, "I am the Resurrection, Part 2", p. 565 in the hardcover)
I'm looking forward to hearing more about Manoke in "Custom of the Army", but as I've said before, I'm happy for Lord John that he's been able to have a long-term relationship like that. And I'm fascinated by the "white deer" story, which is something I completely missed on the first reading. I wonder if the Indians would consider the white deer to be Lord John's spirit animal (totem?) in the same way that Jamie's is the bear or Claire's the white raven? I think it's actually a very apt analogy for how I feel about Lord John's role in the main OUTLANDER books -- when he's there, I'm glad to see him, but I don't necessarily miss him when he's "off screen", so to speak, because I'm so caught up in the lives of the other characters.
So, all right. The shock is gradually fading. I'm starting to be able to see the situation from the characters' point of view. And taking the time to read this part through very slowly and write up my comments has helped a great deal to allow me to come to terms with what happened.
One final note: I finished the re-read this afternoon. Still don't care for the scene where Claire takes Lord John "in hand", but it's a minor point, all things considered. I finished the book thinking, "Awwww, that's sweet!" at the end (re the scene with Ian and Rachel), just like the first time. Despite all the MANY loose ends left hanging, I'm left feeling rather peaceful and contented.