Monday, September 18, 2017

Murtagh's fate in the TV show (SPOILERS!)

Over the course of the OUTLANDER TV series, Murtagh (played by Duncan Lacroix) has developed into a very appealing character (more so than in the books, IMHO) and a fan favorite.


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









Many of you will recall that in the books, it's made clear that Murtagh died at Culloden, although the exact circumstances are a bit murky. He died in Jamie's arms, we know that much.

Murtagh was definitely present during the battle of Culloden as depicted in Episode 301 ("The Battle Joined"), but we didn't see what became of him after the battle.

Executive producer and show-runner Ron Moore made the following comment in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter:
Moore: We're pretty much allowed to do what we want. We always try to do the book version first. We make changes because it doesn't work for some reason, or maybe we changed a character that means you have to follow a different path – like our Murtagh [Duncan Lacroix] is alive, and clearly that's a change from the storyline.
Wow! I've been aware for many months that there was a "Save Murtagh" campaign going on in the fandom, but I can't believe Ron Moore just blurted out a huge spoiler in an interview like that.

What do the rest of you think about this? I hope they can find a way to make it work without major changes in future seasons.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Episode 302: "Surrender" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 302 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Surrender". I thought this episode was very well done: riveting, emotionally intense, and very faithful to the book.


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









The "wanted" poster in the opening shot is very reminiscent of the one Claire sees in Episode 211 ("Vengeance is Mine"), except of course this one mentions the Dunbonnet, not Red Jamie.

Interesting way to start this episode, with the boys in the dovecote.  It's good to see Romann Berrux again, although I have to say that he doesn't appear to have aged six years since we saw him in Episode 213, just before Culloden. <g>  (That's not a complaint, just an observation. FWIW, Romann recently turned sixteen, so he's certainly the right age to play sixteen-year-old Fergus.)

Ian's arrest is shocking in its suddenness, but it's consistent with the book. I thought the older boys should have made themselves scarce the moment the Redcoats appeared, but that's a minor quibble.

I like the silver gorget that the Redcoat captain wears around his neck. (We get a good look at it when he says, "I'm here for the Dunbonnet.")  Those of you who have read WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD will remember William's gorget, which I think would have been similar.

It's really hard to believe that Ian would have aged so much in only about seven years since we last saw him in Season 2. My (half-joking) explanation is that the stress of looking after Lallybroch and his family and tenants (not to mention his worry over Jamie hiding in the cave), with Redcoats roaming the countryside nearby, has caused his hair to go prematurely gray. I don't like the look, but it's not as bad as I expected from the previews.

When you see Ian being taken away, keep in mind that in the books, he contracted consumption (tuberculosis) during one prison stay, and it could very well have been during this period.

Finally we have our first glimpse of the Dunbonnet. I don't think it's realistic that Jamie would be out hunting in the open in daylight, but I can accept that it's more dramatic for TV this way. I liked Jamie's archery skills. That must have been fun for Sam to learn!

If the purpose of the dun bonnet is to hide his very recognizable red hair, why does Jamie make no attempt to cover his hair with the bonnet while he's out and about?  That makes no sense to me.

Jamie imagining that he sees Claire at Lallybroch made me gasp, and my instant reaction was, "My heart hurts for him." So sad!

Jamie's silence is unnerving, as is the way he barely reacts to anything that Fergus or Jenny are saying.

"James Fraser hasna been here for a long, long time."  Good line from Jenny, and she's right.  His body still functions, but he's not really living, merely existing, much as Abel MacLennan did in FIERY CROSS:
The sight of MacLennan’s grief reminded me too much of the days after Culloden, when I had gone back to my own time, knowing Jamie dead. I knew too well that deadness of heart; the sense of sleepwalking through days and lying open-eyed at night, finding no rest, knowing only emptiness that was not peace.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39, "In Cupid's Grove". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I think Sam does a great job of portraying Jamie in this state of numbness, grief, and despair.

Meanwhile, back in 1949, Claire's dream of Jamie is really well done. It reminds me vividly of the Prologue to DRAGONFLY IN AMBER:
I woke three times in the dark predawn. First in sorrow, then in joy, and at the last, in solitude. The tears of a bone-deep loss woke me slowly, bathing my face like the comforting touch of a damp cloth in soothing hands. I turned my face to the wet pillow and sailed a salty river into the caverns of grief remembered, into the subterranean depths of sleep.

I came awake then in fierce joy, body arched bowlike in the throes of physical joining, the touch of him fresh on my skin, dying along the paths of my nerves as the ripples of consummation spread from my center. I repelled consciousness, turning again, seeking the sharp, warm smell of a man’s satisfied desire, in the reassuring arms of my lover, sleep.

The third time I woke alone, beyond the touch of love or grief.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, "Prologue". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The way Jamie turns, naked, and smiles at her, is calculated to make viewers' hearts melt, as well as Claire's. (At least it worked that way for me! <g>)  But at the same time, it's heartbreaking to watch, knowing it's only a dream.

The next scene, with Claire and baby Bree, is mostly taken from the book. I like the way Frank talks to the baby, making it clear that he loves her.

The cave is bigger than I imagined, but it's still a cold, dank, and depressing place to live, and I can't imagine being cooped up there for seven years (!)

"Where'd you get this?"  More than 15 minutes into the episode, and these are the first words Jamie speaks out loud.

When Fergus called Jamie a coward, I really thought Jamie would strike him, but I suppose Fergus is old enough now not to be treated like a child.

I like the fact that they've given Mary McNab a somewhat larger role in this episode than she had in the book.

Glad to see they included the raven as an omen of death. Notice that Fergus says he learned how to load a pistol by "watch[ing] Murtagh instructing the soldiers", presumably in Episode 209 ("Je Suis Prest"), before Prestonpans. I can understand that the TV writers thought it would be more dramatic to have Fergus be the one to shoot the raven, rather than Jamie, as in the book, but I don't find it believable that Fergus would have such pinpoint accuracy in his aim, especially if this is the very first time he's ever fired a pistol. (Beginner's luck, perhaps?)

I like the way Mary tells Rabbie, "Dinna be causin' any mair trouble."

Seeing Jamie holding baby Ian just breaks my heart, knowing that he never got to hold Faith, he will never get to hold Brianna as a child, and at this point he has no reason to think he'll ever know if Claire's baby even survived. So sad!

I was disappointed in Jamie's subdued reaction to Jenny's talk of marriage: "I won't marry. Ever again," is all he says. In the book, he reacts with fury, and I missed that.

The scene where the Redcoats burst in to search the house is riveting and suspenseful, just as in the book. I can understand that filming Jamie and the baby in a cramped little closet or wardrobe would have been impossible, but it seems unlikely that he could have escaped detection just by hiding in an adjacent room. Jamie and baby Ian are awfully lucky that the corporal was interrupted before he could do a thorough search!

Jenny is very good in this scene. I love the way she manages to think very quickly, and answer all their questions, but notice the sweat on her forehead. She's clearly terrified, knowing this is a matter of life and death.

Mary McNab taking the blame for the pistol is very strong foreshadowing of Jamie, at Ardsmuir, claiming the scrap of tartan as his own. Interesting.

Meanwhile, in 1949, Claire finally decides she wants to have sex with Frank, possibly for the first time since her return. But when she says, "I miss my husband," the double meaning behind those words is all too clear. And she's keeping her eyes shut.

Fergus out in the woods alone, when there are Redcoats in the area?  I have a really bad feeling about this!

Fergus taunting the Redcoats is totally in character, but awfully reckless!

"Hold him down!" I gasped at this, with the very strong echo of BJR ordering Marley to hold Jamie's hand flat while he smashed it with the mallet. <shudder>

The scene where Fergus loses his hand is riveting and very emotionally intense, just like the book, and I thought it was really well done. Romann and Sam are both terrific in this scene.

I loved the way Jamie collapses, from guilt and grief, and weeps in Jenny's arms. I had tears in my eyes, too.

Very glad to see they kept the scene with Jamie at Fergus's bedside almost word for word from the book.  I liked Jamie's, "You remind me I have something to fight for."

Back in 1949, the dinner scene seems mostly designed to have Frank noticing the affectionate way Millie and her husband behave toward one another. But in the sex scene that follows, Claire still has her eyes shut, and Frank, understandably, doesn't like that a bit!

"Claire, when I'm with you, I'm with you, but you're with him." Terrific line, one of the best new lines so far this season, IMHO. And of course he's right.

In the next scene, Ian's description of phantom limb pain is a vivid reminder of my reaction when Diana first announced the title of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, back in 2007.  I thought essentially the same thing that Ian says here, "Feeling a pain in a part of ye that's lost.  And that's just a hand. Claire was your heart." What a powerful metaphor that is for loss and grief!  (Look here for some of my thoughts on this from 2009.) Jamie is lucky to have someone in his life who understands a little of what he's been going through.

I liked the scene where Jamie announces his intention to allow himself to be captured for the reward money.

"Jamie, have ye not seen the insides of enough prisons for one lifetime?"
"Little difference to the prison I live in now."

The scene between Jamie and Mary McNab is well done. I'm very glad to see him lose that "Wild Man of Borneo" hair and beard -- he looks 10 or 15 years younger without it! -- but I don't buy the (implied) idea that this is the first time Jamie's shaved in more than six years. I was really glad they included Mary's speech beginning, "I ken well enough what you're thinking", almost word for word from the book.

Nice parallel there, as Jamie, too, keeps his eyes closed while he kisses Mary.

Meanwhile, back in 1949.... The sight of redheaded baby Bree made me smile. Speaking as a fellow redhead, I don't think I've seen a redheaded baby of that age on TV or in the movies before.

I love Claire's voiceover, which comes almost verbatim from the book (VOYAGER chapter 7, "A Faith in Documents"):

"Once, I had thought I was whole. I'd been able to love a man, to bear a child, to heal the sick, and all these things were natural parts of me. But the man I had loved was Jamie, and for a time, I had been part of something greater than myself."

One bit of historical trivia:  The newspaper headline about the first woman treasurer of the US is referring to Georgia Neese Clark, who was appointed by President Truman. Look here for more information.

It's good to see Claire taking the first step in her medical career, even if this anatomy professor can't stand the thought of "a woman and a Negro" in his classroom. I liked the way all the men turned to stare at Claire as she came in. Good to see Joe Abernathy, too!

(Idle speculation: who do you suppose is looking after Bree while Claire is attending med school?)

And Frank and Claire are now sleeping in separate twin beds (!)  That doesn't bode well, at all.

The scene where Jamie is captured by the Redcoats is very good. I love the way Jenny says, "You gave me no choice, brother, and I'll never forgive ye. Never!" The rest of her reactions might be just acting, for the Redcoats' benefit, but I think she clearly meant that.

The final scene in the 20th c. with Claire and the piper is bittersweet, a not-very-subtle reminder that even though she's started medical school, she's still only "half a person", and her heart remains in Scotland, with Jamie.

Overall I really enjoyed this episode. The season is off to a good start!

I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 303.

Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Episode 301: "The Battle Joined" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 301 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Battle Joined". I thought this episode was really well done, and both Sam and Cait were terrific!


There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.









I like what they've done with the opening credit sequence. Subtle changes, but overall it's reassuringly familiar. I liked the way the hand tuning the radio knob in Seasons 1 and 2 has turned into young Brianna's hand on the control knob of a 1950's-era television set.  The sight of the scrap of tartan made me shiver a bit. I'm intrigued by the scene where Claire evidently performs a trepanation (drilling a hole into a patient's skull), because the only reference in the books to that procedure is at the end of DRUMS OF AUTUMN. Maybe they'll have an injured sailor in need of treatment on the Artemis or Porpoise, later in the season?

Very sobering start to the episode, seeing so many dead Highlanders on the field at Culloden. The sight of the British soldiers bayonetting the wounded men as they lay helpless on the ground made me think of Dougal in Episode 210, doing the same thing after the battle of Prestonpans. It made me think that Jamie was very lucky not to suffer the same fate!

Charles Stuart mentions the canteen that he received from his father.  This is the same "picnic set" mentioned in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, as Roger explains to Brianna:
"Well, that was how generals led, back then--from the rear. Especially Charlie; he ran off so fast at the end of the battle that he left behind his sterling silver picnic set.”

“A picnic set? He brought a picnic to the battle?”

“Oh, aye."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
You can see it on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Look here for more information.

I liked the way Jamie remembered flashes of the battle, just bits and pieces, throughout this episode. That was portrayed very effectively. I thought they did a good job in conveying how cold, wet, and miserable the weather was that day.

Jamie at Craigh na Dun in the moments after Claire went back -- that's so sad!

The Highland charge, and the bloody slaughter that followed, was very well done. These scenes are very reminiscent of the 360-degree film of the battle at the Culloden Visitors' Centre (well worth a visit if you get the chance!)

I liked the way Murtagh shows up out of nowhere, saving Jamie from the Redcoat he's fighting, and surprising Jamie enough to make him smile. But it occurs to me that Murtagh telling him the Lallybroch men are safe might have given Jamie even more reason to "throw his life away" (as Claire put it in FIERY CROSS). All the loose ends are now tied up, all his responsibilities are taken care of, and now he can simply hurl himself across that field, to his death.

Watching Jamie fight his way through the line of enemy musket fire, Highlanders falling all around him, my thought was that it's a miracle he lived through that.

And then, finally, here's BJR, and the answer to a long-standing mystery:  BJR bayonetted Jamie in the leg, and Jamie managed to stab him in the belly, then they have a brief struggle, and Jamie ends up on the ground with BJR lying dead on top of him, his weight keeping Jamie from bleeding to death from the wound in his leg.  (Where is Murtagh while all of this is going on?  We don't know.)

Jamie dreaming of Claire -- that's so sad!

Very fitting that it should be Rupert who finds Jamie on the field and carries him to safety. Notice the chunk of amber with a dragonfly in it lying on the ground as Jamie is being dragged off the field. We know from Episode 213 that Claire will see it in a museum display case in 1968.

I like the scene with Frank and Claire in the new house.  They're both trying very hard to make this work, and it's clear that Frank still loves her.

Clever idea, to have Claire deal with her frustration over the temperamental stove by deciding to cook over a fire in the hearth instead. And we really needed a little humor in this episode!

I like Millie, the neighbor lady. She seems a very appealing character, and it will be good for Claire to have someone to talk to, otherwise she'll be all alone in that big house with the baby while Frank is off at the university, and we won't have any idea what she's thinking.  I see Millie as a nicer, friendlier version of Mrs. Hinchcliffe from VOYAGER.

In the next scene, Dean Jackson reminds me a little of Young Jamie in DRUMS:
"It’s verra unseemly for a woman to be givin’ her opinions sae free, and her with menfolk to look after her,” he said stiffly.

“You don’t think women ought to have opinions?” Brianna asked sweetly.

“No, I don’t!"

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Bon Voyage". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The scene in Leanach cottage is excellent, very much as I imagined from the book.  Sam Hoare, who plays Lord Melton (aka Lord John's brother Hal), is very good.

The very explosive breakfast scene between Frank and Claire is really well done, a good addition. Frank's aversion to teabags comes straight from the book:
Frank made a face; an Englishman to the bone, he would rather lap water out of the toilet than drink tea made from teabags.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Hastings and Magna Charta, Drake, Marlborough, the Tudors, Stuarts, Plantagenets...."  I laughed in recognition when I heard that, with the very strong echo of John Dickinson's speech in the movie "1776".  Apparently it's Ron Moore's homage to that wonderful musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. If you've never seen "1776", look here. Highly recommended!

Watching Frank try to touch Claire, while she shies away, I was reminded of the way Jamie acted in some of the Paris scenes in Season 2 -- avoiding her touch, hardly even talking to her, let alone having sex with her.  "Talk to me!" Frank says, just as Claire said to Jamie in Episode 204 ("La Dame Blanche"). The parallels are very striking.

Cait is just marvelous in this scene. "You asked me to leave behind everything that truly mattered to me!''  I loved it when she threw the ashtray at Frank. <g>

The whole scene in Leanach cottage is very close to the way I imagined it from the book. Riveting and emotionally intense. I liked Jamie and Rupert's last conversation, and Rupert's last words: "I mean to set a quick pace, so try to keep up." Very sad to see him go!

In the next scene with Frank lying on the couch, unable to sleep, you can't help noticing all the little sounds a 20th-century house makes: a dripping faucet, the hum of the refrigerator. I thought that was an interesting contrast with what must be going through his mind; thoughts of the 18th century, and whether there might possibly be any truth to Claire's story. So he gets up to write to the Rev. Wakefield, and Claire comes in to tell him she's in labor.

Back in the cottage at Culloden, I liked this exchange:

Wallace: "Are they to be shot lying down?"
Hal (looks at him, horrified): "Prop them up, certanly! Good Lord. No man in the King's custody shall be shot lying down on my watch. Not even traitors."

The rest of the scene is straight from the book, which I was glad to see.

Meanwhile, in the delivery room, I liked this bit between Frank and Claire:

"I'm glad I missed you with that ashtray."
"Your aim was spot on. It was my cat-like reflexes that saved me."

I disliked the doctor on sight, with his "do exactly as I tell you" manner and the way he spoke only to Frank, as though Claire wasn't even there. But I liked the bit where Claire reveals she had a miscarriage, much to Frank's surprise. To his credit, the news doesn't faze Frank at all; his attention is focused entirely on helping Claire get through this. I liked his "Claire. I love you," as she is wheeled away.

The delivery room scene, where Claire is sedated against her will, is disturbing. It hurts to see Claire so powerless. This isn't the way it happened in the books, but I think it works pretty well here.

Meanwhile, Jamie wakes in the wagon at Lallybroch, thinking he is dead. Jenny and Ian's reactions are just perfect. I can totally imagine Jenny stubbornly refusing to let her brother die.

When Claire wakes in the hospital room, her "Where's my baby?" hit me like a gut-punch, with the VERY strong echoes of Episode 207 ("Faith").

I loved the way Frank and Claire look at the baby, and each other. "She's perfect, Claire. Just like her mother," Frank says, and you start to see how this child might begin to heal their relationship at last. "This is all that truly matters now. It's going to be all right, I promise."

And then the nurse comes in and bursts their bubble of happiness with six words: "Where'd she get the red hair?" Talk about awkward questions!

I really enjoyed this episode, and I can't wait for the next one! Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 302 ("Surrender").

Look here for my recaps of the Season 1 and Season 2 episodes.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Diana Gabaldon's book-signing in Winston-Salem

I went with my mom to see Diana Gabaldon yesterday at the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.  We had a wonderful time!

We got there more than two hours before the doors opened, and there was already a considerable crowd waiting in line, including many members of the NC Outlander Fans Facebook group. By the time they started letting people inside, the line stretched all the way around the building (!)

Inside the auditorium.

I was so excited to be there!

Diana spoke for more than an hour. She was very entertaining, as usual. She confirmed (in front of the audience of some 1800 North Carolina fans) that they will unfortunately not be doing any Season 4 filming in North Carolina. Diana said that in addition to the fact that they have a huge OUTLANDER production studio in Cumbernauld, Scotland, they are a non-union shop, and filming in the US would require the production crew to be members of a union.

The highlight of the evening for me, of course, was getting to see Diana, for the first time in more than four years.  When she saw me approach, she told the woman assisting her, "She's a friend," and gave me a hug. 

I thanked her for the wonderful Dedication in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL (which is quite a thrill for me personally!) and then she signed my copy.

The inscription reads, "To Karen, Expert in Eyeball-Numbing Nitpickery!"  This is a reference to the fact that she very generously let me read the stories in this collection before they were published (an honor and a privilege!), and I was able to spot some issues with dates and such that her copy-editor didn't catch.

We had a good time at this event, and it was great to get a chance to talk to other OUTLANDER fans. Many thanks to Diana for agreeing to do this event on fairly short notice!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

One more day!

So we're down to the final hours of #Droughtlander!  Just a few things I wanted to mention:

STARZ is running a Season 2 marathon on Sunday, September 10, starting at 7 am ET/PT. They will be showing all 13 episodes, leading up to the Season 3 premiere at 8 pm.

I will be attending Diana Gabaldon's appearance at the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, on September 10th! This will be the first time I've seen Diana in more than four years, and I'm really looking forward to it. (I'll post more about this on Monday.)

Yes, that means I will not be home to watch the premiere of Episode 301 at 8 pm.  (I keep telling myself that's what the DVR is for....)  I will post my reactions to Episode 301 as soon as I can, probably Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Season 3 trailer: "Claire's Journey" (SPOILERS)

I haven't watched all of the OUTLANDER Season 3 trailers and video clips released in the last few days, but I made an exception for this one.  I think it's very good!

Friday, September 1, 2017

August poll results

Here are the results of the August poll, which asked the question, "Which NEW character are you most looking forward to seeing in OUTLANDER Season 3?"
  • 40.25% - Adult Lord John Grey
  • 23.49% - Young Ian
  • 12.26% - Adult Fergus
  • 2.73% - Joe Abernathy
  • 2.29% - Mr. Willoughby
  • 1.48% - Marsali
  • 1.03% - Geneva Dunsany
  • 0.66% - I haven't read VOYAGER, so I don't know any of these characters yet.
  • 0.07% - Margaret Campbell
  • 14.70% - All of the above
  • 1.03% - Other
There were 1354 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the September poll, which asks the question, "Have you attended any of Diana Gabaldon's public appearances?" Thanks!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Season 3 episode titles

Here is the full list of episode titles for OUTLANDER Season 3, courtesy of OUTLANDER TV News.

Episode 301 (September 10, 2017) – “The Battle Joined”
Episode 302 (September 17, 2017) – “Surrender”
Episode 303 (September 24, 2017) – “All Debts Paid”
Episode 304 (October 1, 2017) – “Of Lost Things”
Episode 305 (October 8, 2017) – “Freedom & Whisky”
Episode 306 (October 22, 2017) – “A. Malcolm”
Episode 307 (October 29, 2017) – “Crème De Menthe”
Episode 308 (November 5, 2017) – “First Wife”
Episode 309 (November 12, 2017) – “The Doldrums”
Episode 310 (November 19, 2017) – “Heaven & Earth”
Episode 311 (November 26, 2017) – “Turtle Soup”
Episode 312 (December 3, 2017) – “The Bakra”
Episode 313 (December 10, 2017) – “A New World”

Please note, there is a one-week break between Episodes 305 and 306 (probably to build up anticipation for Jamie and Claire's reunion!)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Outlandish Observations is 9 years old!

Nine years ago today, on August 28, 2008, I started Outlandish Observations!

I had two goals in mind when I started this blog. 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 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 8,752 followers on Facebook. Today that number is 9,604, an increase of 9.73%! I'm delighted that so many new people have found my site in recent months. 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 dozens and dozens of 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.

I'm delighted to see so many new people discovering OUTLANDER as a result of the TV series!  In case you're wondering, yes, I will be posting weekly recaps of the Season 3 episodes, just as I've done for the first two seasons. Look here for my Season 1 and 2 recaps.

No question about it, this is a very exciting time for OUTLANDER fans everywhere! It's quite a challenge to keep up with everything that's going on these days, and I hope you're finding this site helpful.

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


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Is the printshop scene being hyped too much?

Here's something I have been pondering recently:

I have been wondering if the reason STARZ hasn't announced more Season 3 episode titles (only the titles of the first five episodes have been confirmed) is that they're worried about losing a large part of their audience at the beginning of the season. If it's confirmed weeks ahead of time that the reunion (and the very-much-hyped printshop scene) doesn't take place until Episode 306, will casual viewers decide to skip the first 5 episodes? I can imagine STARZ not wanting to risk that.

Sometimes I think they're paying way too much attention to the printshop scene already.  With all the buzz about the printshop, can it possibly live up to the fans' expectations?  Like the Red Dress in Episode 202 ("Not in Scotland Anymore"), which was hyped incessantly, and turned out to be not quite what I was expecting.

Will the actual scene(s) be anticlimactic? God, I hope not!!  Matt Roberts, who wrote the episode, is one of my favorite OUTLANDER writers, and a huge fan of the books.  I trust that Sam and Cait will both give amazing, unforgettable, emotionally wrenching performances. <g> But my point is, by paying so much attention to that one scene in the media ("Printshop! Printshop! Printshop!"), they make it sound like there'll be nothing else worth watching in the first part of the season.

It's true that STARZ has been trying to counter this impression, by releasing many images and video clips focusing on other aspects of Season 3.  But what about the mockup of the printshop set at SDCC, which was clearly designed to attract a LOT of attention among a more general audience who might not be familiar with the books?

All this hype around a single scene (no matter how pivotal it is for Season 3, and the series as a whole) is probably inevitable, but it still bothers me.  It's sort of the TV equivalent of those readers Diana Gabaldon has talked about sometimes, who skip the early parts of VOYAGER because they think the Ardsmuir and Helwater sections are boring (!) and they just want to get to the reunion and the sex scenes that follow.

What do the rest of you think about this?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

OUTLANDER on the cover of Entertainment Weekly!

OUTLANDER is on the cover of the September 1st issue of Entertainment Weekly!

Check out EW's exclusive photo shoot featuring Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, on the set in South Africa earlier this year.

And here are some new photos from Season 3!


Just a little more than two weeks to go!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How ladies got dressed in the 18th century

Some of you may remember the scene near the beginning of OUTLANDER Episode 102 ("Castle Leoch") where Mrs. Fitz helps Claire get dressed in 18th-century clothing for the first time.

Here's a video showing how upper-class English ladies got dressed in the 18th century.

I like this demonstration because it's done slowly enough to follow this complicated process, and because the narrator explains what each separate garment is for.

One item she didn't explain, however, is the corset busk, shown at 2:11 into this video.  (Similar to the one shown here.) You may recall that Brianna used a corset busk as a weapon in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, when she was being held captive by Stephen Bonnet's slave Emmanuel.

You can definitely get a sense of how time-consuming it would be to put on all of these layers of clothing!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

VOYAGER TV tie-in paperback edition is now available!

The TV tie-in paperback edition of VOYAGER is now available!

You can find it here:

Barnes & Noble

It's also available from the Poisoned Pen bookstore, if you'd like an autographed copy. The Poisoned Pen is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore, and they ship all over the world.

For those who are wondering, there is no difference in the text of the book. They're just re-issuing the paperback with a new cover, as they did for OUTLANDER and DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, to promote Season 3 of the TV series.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A new OUTLANDER blog focusing on North Carolina

Introducing a new OUTLANDER blog by a friend of mine who lives in North Carolina. OUTLANDER North Carolina will focus on the history and places of NC featured in the OUTLANDER books (and, we hope, eventually in the TV series as well!)


If you haven't read DRUMS OF AUTUMN (Book 4 of the OUTLANDER series), there's a Major Spoiler below! Read at your own risk!








As a longtime resident of NC, I will never forget how stunned, delighted, and fascinated I was, on my first reading of DRUMS OF AUTUMN, to discover that Jamie and Claire were going to settle in North Carolina.  I love seeing references to North Carolina in the OUTLANDER books, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

This new blog looks like it's going to be a very interesting site. Please take a moment to check it out!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Going to see Diana Gabaldon in September!

I'm very excited to announce that my mom and I will be attending Diana Gabaldon's appearance at the Bookmarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, on September 10th!

Tickets just went on sale yesterday, and given how fast her events typically sell out these days, I'm amazed there are still seats available.  But we got our tickets, and we're going!

This will be the first time in more than four years that I've had the opportunity to attend one of Diana's events.  Yes, it's on the same night as the Season 3 premiere, but I keep telling myself that's what the DVR is for. <g>

Here's Diana's announcement of the event on her Facebook page.

If you're interested in attending, you can purchase tickets here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July poll results

Here are the results of the July poll, which asked the question, "Which is your favorite animal from Diana Gabaldon's books?"
  • 55.25% - Rollo
  • 11.62% - Adso
  • 11.62% - Clarence, the mule
  • 7.17% - The White Sow
  • 7.17% - Bouton
  • 3.58% - Donas
  • 0.72% - Lucas, the Friesian stallion
  • 0.56% - Gideon
  • 0.56% - Ping An, the pelican
  • 0.40% - Hiram, the goat
  • 0.16% - I'm new to OUTLANDER and haven't encountered any of these animals yet.
  • 1.19% - Other
There were 1256 responses to this month's poll. I've been featuring these monthly polls on Outlandish Observations since 2008, and I have to say, this has been one of the most competitive and most entertaining polls I've ever done.

True, the first-place winner was never in doubt (Rollo has a LOT of fans!), but what surprised me was how close the race for second place turned out to be. Clarence and Adso were only a couple of votes apart the entire time the poll was running, and I think it's fitting that the wee cheetie and the gregarious mule ended up tied for second place.

Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the August poll, which asks the question, "Which NEW character are you most looking forward to seeing in OUTLANDER Season 3?" Thanks!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Another Season 3 trailer: Parallel Lives

STARZ released another Season 3 trailer today, featuring Caitriona and Sam talking about their characters, interspersed with a number of brief clips of scenes from Season 3.

I thought this was very well done!  Just about six more weeks to go....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

OUTLANDER panel discussion at SDCC

Here's the video of the OUTLANDER panel discussion that took place on July 21 at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), featuring Sam, Cait, Tobias Menzies, Rik Rankin, Sophie Skelton, Ron Moore, Maril Davis, and Diana Gabaldon.

Watch for the surprise guest appearance!

(Updated 7/23/2017 9:46 am to change the links to the official STARZ video of the panel discussion.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Two French fans review OUTLANDER Seasons 1 & 2

Here's a wonderful video featuring two male fans from France, explaining in detail what OUTLANDER is all about, and sharing their reactions to Seasons 1 and 2 of the TV series.

Thanks very much to OutlanderFrance for providing the English subtitles, so that those of us who don't speak French can follow along.  It's very clear that these two guys Get It, that they understand the characters very well, and that makes this video a real pleasure to watch.

It's about 40 minutes long, but well worth watching! (Please note, if you can't get the subtitles to work, try a different web browser, like Firefox or Chrome.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Season 3 Trailer!

Here's the official Season 3 trailer from STARZ! It's almost 2 minutes long, and my reaction on seeing it the first time was, "WOW!!!"

It looks terrific (understatement!) and I really can't wait for September 10!

If you're having trouble catching all the details, try the slow-motion version here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

VOYAGER TV tie-in paperback will be out Aug. 15!

The TV tie-in paperback edition of VOYAGER will be published on August 15, 2017!

The image above, showing the brand-new cover art, comes from the website of Penguin Random House, Diana Gabaldon's US publisher.

Pre-order links:

Barnes & Noble

It will also be available from the Poisoned Pen bookstore, if you'd like an autographed copy.

For those who are wondering, there is no difference in the text of the book. They're just re-issuing the paperback with a new cover, as they did for OUTLANDER and DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, to promote Season 3 of the TV series.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Season 3 will premiere on September 10th!

Exciting news today for OUTLANDER fans!

We finally have a premiere date for Season 3:  Sunday, September 10, 2017!  (That's only 61 days from now....)

Please note: according to the official press release from STARZ, the show will air at 8pm ET/PT, not 9pm!

And here is the new "key art" for Season 3.

I like this artwork a lot!  I was saying just the other day on Compuserve that I hoped they'd do some sort of "split-screen" image, with Jamie in one century and Claire in the other -- and that's exactly what they've come up with! <g>

It definitely captures at least some part of the heartbreak, grief, and longing of those twenty endless years of separation. (That's not a complaint, at all!  I don't think any single picture could convey the full impact of what those twenty years apart did to both of them.)

And it reminds me of that very dramatic scene from Episode 108 ("Both Sides Now"), with Frank on one side of the stones and Claire on the other.

Great job! <g>

Finally, STARZ has released a new trailer in honor of the occasion:

Thursday, July 6, 2017

SEVEN STONES makes the NY Times Bestseller List!

Diana Gabaldon's new story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, has made the NY Times Bestseller List!

Congratulations, Diana!!

For more information about SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, see my FAQ page here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

REPOST: "1776", the Musical

Wishing all of you in the U.S. a very happy Fourth of July!

As I do every year, I'm taking this opportunity to put in a plug for my favorite Revolutionary War movie: "1776", which is a musical about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

If you've never seen "1776", I highly recommend it. It came out in 1972 (based on the Broadway musical of the same name) and I think I've seen it almost every year since I was nine or so. That tradition continues to this day; my family always watches it on DVD every July 4th, and we will do so again this year.

Diana Gabaldon likes it, too; I've heard her describe it as "hilarious, moving, and very singable". I asked her specifically about the costumes, because I'm fascinated by the details of the 18th century clothing in this movie, and she said they're pretty accurate.

Here are a couple of my favorite songs from the movie:

1) "The Egg" - Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson choose America's national bird.

2) "Sit Down, John" - This is the movie's opening number.

You can get "1776" via Amazon, but it appears no longer to be available on Netflix, which is a shame. If you're in the US, it will be shown on TCM at 10:15pm today, July 4th.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June poll results

Here are the results of the June poll, which asked the question, "What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?"
  • 36.43% - I love them!
  • 19.38% - I enjoy them, but I prefer to read about Jamie and Claire.
  • 9.21% - I started reading them after seeing what a major role he played in the main OUTLANDER series.
  • 8.24% - They're an integral part of the overall series.
  • 6.69% - They add a lot of depth to his character.
  • 4.94% - I'm not interested in reading them.
  • 4.65% - I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm planning to.
  • 2.91% - I like seeing a different side of 18th century life than we get in the OUTLANDER books.
  • 1.65% - I think they're boring.
  • 1.36% - I'm not interested in reading about a gay character.
  • 1.26% - I wish Diana would quit writing about him.
  • 0.58% - I'm new to OUTLANDER and haven't encountered Lord John yet.
  • 2.71% - Other
There were 1032 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the July poll, which asks the question, "Which is your favorite animal in Diana Gabaldon's books?" Thanks!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on the publication of her story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL!

I was thrilled to see the following in the Dedication:
This book is dedicated with the greatest respect and gratitude to Karen Henry, Rita Meistrell, Vicki Pack, Sandy Parker, and Mandy Tidwell (collectively known as “the Cadre of Eyeball-Numbing Nitpickery”) for their invaluable help in spotting errors, inconsistencies, and assorted rubbish.
Also, the first story in this collection, "The Custom of the Army", is dedicated to me personally:
This story is for Karen Henry, Aedile Curule, and Chief Bumblebee-Herder.
I've known about the latter since the e-book edition of "Custom" was released in 2012, but it's still definitely a thrill to see it in print, not to mention a great honor!

Thank you, Diana!!

This book contains some wonderful stories. "A Leaf in the Wind of All Hallows" and "The Space Between" are two of my favorites.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of the two new stories, "A Fugitive Green" and "Besieged".

For more information about SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, see my FAQ page here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!  In honor of the day, here's a selection of my favorite quotes about fathers and fatherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books.  Hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

"I hadna realized until I saw him just how alone I’d felt there--or how scairt. The soldiers would not give us any time alone together, but at least they let me greet him.” He swallowed and went on.

“I told him I was sorry--about Jenny, I meant, and the whole sorry mess. He told me to hush, though, and hugged me tight to him. He asked me was I hurt badly--he knew about the flogging--and I said I’d be all right. The soldiers said I must go then, so he squeezed my arms tight, and told me to remember to pray. He said he would stand by me, no matter what happened, and I must just keep my head up and try not to worrit myself. He kissed my cheek and the soldiers took me away. That was the last time I ever saw him."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Reckonings". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

“I wondered a bit,” he said thoughtfully, “whether my father was the sort of father he was because of the way old Simon treated him. I didna realize it at the time, of course, but it’s no so common for a man to show his feelings for his sons.”

“You’ve thought about it a lot.” I offered him another flask of ale, and he took it with a smile that lingered on me, more warming than the feeble autumn sun.

“Aye, I did. I was wondering, ye see, what sort of father I’d be to my own bairns, and looking back a bit to see, my own father being the best example I had. Yet I knew, from the bits that he said, or that Murtagh told me, that his own father was nothing like him, so I thought as how he must have made up his mind to do it all differently, once he had the chance."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 40, "The Fox's Lair".  Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

Willie knew how an earl should behave; he was making a masterful effort to subdue his tears, sniffing ferociously and swiping at his face with a sleeve.

“Allow me, my lord.” Jamie did kneel then, and wiped the little boy’s face gently with his own coarse handkerchief. Willie’s eyes looked at him over the cotton folds, red-rimmed and woeful.

“Have you really got to go, Mac?” he asked, in a very small voice.

“Aye, I have.” He looked into the dark blue eyes, so heartbreakingly like his own, and suddenly didn’t give a damn what was right or who saw. He pulled the boy roughly to him, hugging him tight against his heart, holding the boy’s face close to his shoulder, that Willie might not see the quick tears that fell into his thick, soft hair.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 16, "Willie".  Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

“You 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.)

Roger had sworn an oath to take Jemmy as his own, no matter what the little boy’s true paternity might be; he was an honorable man, Roger, and he meant it. But the speech of the heart is louder than the words of any oath spoken by lips alone.

When I had gone back, pregnant, through the stones, Frank had sworn to me that he would keep me as his wife, would treat the coming child as his own--would love me as he had before. All three of those vows his lips and mind had done his best to keep, but his heart, in the end, had sworn only one. From the moment that he took Brianna in his arms, she was his daughter.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 13, "Beans and Barbecue".  Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

Jem was heavy in his arms, and groggy. He stirred, lifted his head, and blinked, blue eyes glassy with sleep.

“It’s okay,” Roger whispered, patting his back. “Daddy’s here.”

Jem sighed like a punctured tire and dropped his head on Roger’s shoulder with the force of a spent cannonball. He seemed to inflate again for a moment, but then put his thumb in his mouth and subsided into that peculiarly boneless state common to sleeping children. His flesh seemed to melt comfortably into Roger’s own, his trust so complete that it was not necessary even to maintain the boundaries of his body--Daddy would do that. 

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

"For a long time,” he said at last, “when I was small, I pretended to myself that I was the bastard of some great man. All orphans do this, I think,” he added dispassionately. “It makes life easier to bear, to pretend that it will not always be as it is, that someone will come and restore you to your rightful place in the world.”

He shrugged.

“Then I grew older, and knew this was not true. No one would come to rescue me. But then--” He turned his head and gave Jamie a smile of surpassing sweetness.

“Then I grew older still, and discovered that, after all, it was true. I am the son of a great man.”

The hook touched Jamie’s hand, hard and capable.

“I wish for nothing more."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth".  Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

Seized by an urgency greater than any he’d ever known, he turned and ran. Ran heedless of footing, of dark, of Buck’s startled cry behind him.

Jerry heard his footsteps on the grass and whirled round, startled himself. Roger grabbed him by both hands, squeezed them hard enough to make Jerry gasp, and said fiercely, “I love you!”

That was all there was time for--and all he could possibly say.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 101, "Just One Chance".  Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

And finally, on a personal note.  This is my first Father's Day without my dad, who passed away in September 2016. I miss him so much!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Last day of filming on OUTLANDER Season 3!

Today (June 16) is the last day of filming on OUTLANDER Season 3! Congratulations to the whole cast and production team! From everything I've heard so far, it sounds like this is going to be a terrific season, and I can't wait!

In case you're wondering, no, we still don't know the exact premiere date in September, but I will post here as soon as it's announced.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why you should read "Past Prologue"

I just finished reading Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, which was published on June 13 in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child.

Without getting into spoilers at all, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I think it's a must-read for OUTLANDER fans!  This post is my attempt to get the word out to fans everywhere that you're going to want to read this story.

Just like "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", this story packs a lot of action and a great deal of intriguing fodder for speculation into a small space, and I thought it was a very entertaining ride.

And yes, Jamie Fraser is in it. <g>

If you're a little nervous about the fact that this story was co-written with another author, really, don't worry about it!  From the very first lines of "Past Prologue", Diana Gabaldon's "voice" comes through very clearly.

Note to those of you who are new to the OUTLANDER books:  If you haven't read VOYAGER (book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), I would recommend waiting until you do, before reading this story. You'll appreciate "Past Prologue" a lot more if you've read VOYAGER.

For more information about "Past Prologue", including ordering information for the MATCHUP anthology in which the story appears, look here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

OUTLANDER is coming to UK TV at long last!

Big news today for UK fans: After a three-year wait, the OUTLANDER TV series will finally be shown on TV in the UK, on the More4 channel.

Look here for more details. Please help spread the word to any OUTLANDER fans you may know in the UK.

Diana Gabaldon's new story, "Past Prologue", is now available!

Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, is now available in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child.

This story features both Steve Berry's character Cotton Malone, and....Jamie Fraser!

I was wondering how much of the story Diana Gabaldon actually wrote, so I asked her for more details. As she explained on Compuserve on June 12, 2017:
Steve and I brainstormed a bit over the phone as to what kind of scenario might work as the general premise and circumstance of the story.  Then I actually wrote it, engineering the plot and action, defining/creating all the minor characters, and doing all of the dialogue involving Jamie.  (For Cotton Malone, I roughed in dialogue and/or put in things in square brackets, like "[witty remark indicating that he doesn't believe her but is sexually attracted to her.]".)    Understanding being that Steve would adjust any of Cotton's dialogue or action in accordance with the character--so essentially, we each did our own character's dialogue.  I did the original dialogue for the other characters, and Steve tweaked it where necessary.

     So I drafted the whole story, then Steve went through and refined/tightened the plot, did Cotton's dialogue and action, and moved the narrative writing slightly more toward a thriller style (though you'll still see my voice throughout).

      I went through Steve's version and tweaked a few things, and then he did the final pass--in which he decided to shift the whole thing into the present tense.  I'm fine with that--but it's probably the biggest change people will see from my style, as I don't think I've ever written anything in present tense.

     But you'll see Jamie as written by me alone (bar the tense <g>), and Cotton as per Steve.  (Now, I will warn you that we constructed the story with Cotton as the main protagonist, because Jamie doesn't time-travel, so you'll see more of him--but you will get an interesting addition to Jamie's part of the Outlander story.)
There is a brief excerpt from this story on Diana's Facebook page here.

For more information about the other stories in this anthology, look here.

You can order MATCHUP from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and it's also available from Amazon UK for those of you who live outside the US.  If you want an autographed copy, you can order the book from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Poisoned Pen is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore; they stock all of her books, and they ship all over the world.

The audio version of MATCHUP is available for download on here.

And no, in case you're wondering, the fact that Diana Gabaldon has a story in this anthology is not slowing down her progress on GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series! Diana often says that she likes to work on multiple projects at once, to keep from getting writer's block.

Have you read this story?  If so, please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Visit to the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, VA

My mom and I just returned from a trip to Yorktown, VA, to see the newly renovated and expanded American Revolution Museum (formerly known as the Yorktown Victory Center). I had a fabulous time, and I would definitely recommend it to OUTLANDER fans, especially if you like seeing what the 18th-century items mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books actually looked like.

The highlight of our trip was the "living history" part of the museum.  They have recreated both a Revolutionary War army encampment and a typical farm homestead from the period, so you get a good look at the way ordinary people lived. The museum itself was very interesting. They have artifacts and exhibits spanning the Colonial period, the war years, and the aftermath of the Revolution. It's well done for the most part, though we thought the lighting was too dim in places, making it difficult to see some of the items in the display cases.

Here are some of the highlights of our visit to the museum, including many items that I think anyone who's read the OUTLANDER books will appreciate.

First, we visited the army encampment. As we entered the area, an officer at the first table we saw asked if I wanted to enlist in the Continental Army. I said, "Sure, why not?"

This was my first experience writing with a quill. It was fun. After I signed the paper, the man sprinkled a bit of sand on it to make the ink dry faster.

I was delighted to find that the whole museum complex, including the outdoor areas, was wheelchair-accessible, and I had no difficulty in getting around. We were very lucky with the weather!

This is an abatis, which you may recall from AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

Communal army kitchen. For more about these kitchens, look here.

Each group of soldiers sharing a tent had their own individual food-preparation area around the perimeter of the circle, basically just a small pit dug in the ground, barely big enough for a small fire to cook whatever food they had.

Soldier's kit, including eating utensils, razor, a deck of cards, and other miscellaneous items. The bag at the right contains beans, which were part of the soldier's rations.

Soldier's rations, and the 18th-century equivalent of a hot-plate on which to cook them.

Laundry area. This would have been run by "camp followers", women who traveled with the army. Click on the photo for a view of the price list.

The re-enactors are very good, and we particularly liked the man who did the musket demonstration. He stressed the fact that 18th-century muskets were not very accurate, even at a distance of 100 yards, but that didn't lessen the danger for the troops at all. "Suppose the enemy soldier aims his weapon at you. He might hit the man standing next to you instead." Using mass volleys of musket fire increased the odds that some shots would hit their targets.

Imagine trying to load, aim, and fire a musket (a pretty complicated series of steps) in 15 seconds, in the midst of all the smoke and confusion of battle, while enemy soldiers are rushing toward you with bayonets. It sounds terrifying!

Cooking on the open hearth, very much as Claire, or Mrs. Bug, would have done on the Ridge.  When I asked what they were making, one of the women lifted the cover of the small Dutch oven shown here, revealing a delicious-looking loaf of cornbread.

Herbs hung to dry in the rafters of the farm kitchen.

Barrel of salt, used for preserving food.

Demonstrating the use of a bed-key to tighten a rope mattress, like the one Claire used in ABOSAA:
I piled up the pillows at the head of the bed—pausing to remove the dirk—then began to climb onto it. I paused again, though, and instead bent to wind the bedkey, tightening the ropes that supported the mattress until the bedstead groaned and the ropes gave a creaking twang.

“Verra canny, Sassenach,” Jamie said behind me, sounding amused.

“Experience,” I informed him, clambering over the newly tautened bed on hands and knees. “I’ve waked up often enough after a night with you, with the mattress folded up round my ears and my arse no more than an inch off the ground.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "James Fraser, Indian Agent". Copyright ©2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Spinning wool.

Army surgeon's supplies. The device shown at bottom left is used for trepanation (boring a hole into a patient's skull), as Dr. Fentiman did for Lord John in DRUMS.

More medical and surgical supplies. The big bottle in the foreground contains laudanum. Notice the bleeding bowl in the center of this photo, with several fleams, and consider that the army surgeons at the time probably didn't clean their instruments between uses.

This medical chest is very much like the one Jamie gave Claire in DRUMS.

Soldier's canteen.

The Declaration of Independence, set in 18th-century type just like Jamie would have used.

Silver shoe buckles.

Portable lighting kit: flint, steel, and candle holder.

Brazier. This was used as a small portable stove.

Naval cannon. It's surprisingly small, maybe four feet long.

Naval weapons.  The long rod with a sponge on one end is used for cleaning the barrel of a cannon.

Siege cannon used in the siege of Yorktown in 1781. It's enormous (with 24-pound cannon balls!) and must have taken a tremendous effort to transport.

This statue of George Washington and French Admiral François de Grasse, who commanded the French fleet at Yorktown in 1781, is located in a small shopping district near the museum.

My mom and I, relaxing at the end of a long (but very satisfying) day.

We had a wonderful time exploring the American Revolution Museum. It definitely lived up to my expectations, and I would highly recommend it for OUTLANDER fans!