Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Happy Birthday, Claire!

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

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

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

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

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


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

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

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

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

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

He started back, staring down at me.

"The hell you are!" he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It’s up to me to keep ye safe!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

“Well, I won’t,” I said quite calmly.

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

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

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

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

“Get away!” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

OUTLANDER Season 5 Blu-ray and DVD now available!

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

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

Collector's Edition Blu-ray (pictured below)

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

Friday, August 28, 2020

Outlandish Observations is 12 years old!

Outlandish Observations turns 12 years old today!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Confessions of an OUTLANDER Audiobook Addict

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

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

This is really wonderful news!

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


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

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

Things I Like About the Audiobooks

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

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

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

2) The narrators are terrific.

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

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

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

Here's an interview with Jeff Woodman from 2010.

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

3) You can listen anywhere, any time.

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

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

Things I Don't Like

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Word of Caution

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

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

I shut the stereo off fast, blushing furiously.

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

"Oh, um....nothing."

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

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

Where to Find the Audiobooks

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

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

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

Sunday, July 19, 2020

OUTLANDER quotes to get you through the pandemic

I originally posted this on March 19, 2020, just when everything was beginning to shut down. So much has happened in the world since then -- millions worldwide infected with the coronavirus, nearly 140,000 dead in the US alone, not to mention the severe impact on the economy and on the daily lives of people everywhere -- that I thought it was worth reposting, with a few additions.

As I always do in times of stress, I find myself reaching for Diana Gabaldon's books, looking for comfort, or words of advice, or just reassurance that other people have lived through horrible times, all throughout human history, and found a way to survive.

I've always admired the resilience of Diana's characters. Even faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, they don't give up, ever, and I find much to admire in that. So I thought I'd offer this collection of quotes from the OUTLANDER books, by way of distraction. Hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you may encounter spoilers below.

1) Like many of us, Claire doesn't have access to hospital-quality surgical masks, but she does the best she can with the materials available.
Mrs. Fraser gave Dr. Hunter something that looked like a handkerchief, and raised another to her face. It was a handkerchief, Grey saw, but one with strings affixed to its corners. She tied these behind her head, so the cloth covered her nose and mouth, and Hunter obediently followed suit.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 88, "Rather Messy." Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) Claire, telling Jamie about the Great Influenza pandemic of 1918-19. (If you're interested in learning more about it, I highly recommend John Barry's THE GREAT INFLUENZA.)
“I was born at the end of a war--the Great War, they called it, because the world had never seen anything like it. I told you about it.” My voice held a slight question, and he nodded, eyes fixed on mine, listening.

“The year after I was born,” I said, “there was a great epidemic of influenza. All over the world. People died in hundreds and thousands; whole villages disappeared in the space of a week.”


“I have seen that,” he said softly, with a glance at the stoppered bottles. “Plague and ague run rampant in a city, half a regiment dead of flux.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 61, "A Noisome Pestilence." Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) The next quote is very appropriate these days, with all our lives being disrupted, and many people having to cancel or postpone long-planned trips or events.
Pointless to spend too much time in planning, anyway, given the propensity of life to make sudden left-hand turns without warning.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "A Distant Massacre." Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) News stories about the exhausted, overworked doctors and hospital staff in the hardest-hit areas made me think of Claire, in VOYAGER, fighting the typhoid epidemic on the Porpoise essentially alone, with little more than a few barrels of alcohol.
I ached desperately; my head throbbed, my back was stiff and my feet swollen, but none of these was of any significance, compared to the deeper ache that knotted my heart.

Any doctor hates to lose a patient. Death is the enemy, and to lose someone in your care to the clutch of the dark angel is to be vanquished yourself, to feel the rage of betrayal and impotence, beyond the common, human grief of loss and the horror of death’s finality. I had lost twenty-three men between dawn and sunset of this day. Elias was only the first.

Several had died as I sponged their bodies or held their hands; others, alone in their hammocks, had died uncomforted even by a touch, because I could not reach them in time. I thought I had resigned myself to the realities of this time, but knowing--even as I held the twitching body of an eighteen-year-old seaman as his bowels dissolved in blood and water--that penicillin would have saved most of them, and I had none, was galling as an ulcer, eating at my soul.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 48, "Moment of Grace." Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) If you think a few weeks of "self-quarantine" are hard, imagine what Jamie must have felt, spending seven years living alone in a cave.
“You didn’t really mind, did you?” [Brianna's] voice was soft, and she kept her eyes on the valley below, careful not to look at him. “Living in the cave near Broch Mhorda.”

“No,” he said. The sun was warm on his breast and face, and filled him with a sense of peace. “No, I didna mind it.”

“Only hearing about it--I thought it must have been terrible. Cold and dirty and lonely, I mean.” She did look at him then, and the morning sky lived in her eyes.

“It was,” he said, and smiled a little.

“Ian--Uncle Ian--took me there to show me.”

“Did he, then? It’s none so bleak, in the summertime, when the yellow’s on the broom.”

“No. But even when it was--” She hesitated.

“No, I didna mind it.” He closed his eyes and let the sun heat his eyelids.

At first he had thought the loneliness would kill him, but once he had learned it would not, he came to value the solitude of the mountainside.
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "Moonlight." Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

6) In times of emergency, when proper medical equipment is unavailable, sometimes you have to improvise. Thank God Bree is a) a quick thinker, b) an engineer by training, and c) imaginative enough to come up with a solution that no one else would have thought of.
“See, the thing is,” she said, sounding rather dreamy, “pit-vipers have beautiful engineering. Their jaws are disarticulated, so they can swallow prey bigger than they are--and their fangs fold back against the roof of their mouth when they aren’t using them.”

“Yes?” I said, giving her a slightly fishy look, which she ignored.

“The fangs are hollow,” she said, and touched a finger to the glass, marking the spot where the venom had soaked into the linen cloth, leaving a small yellowish stain. “They’re connected to a venom sac in the snake’s cheek, and so when they bite down, the cheek muscles squeeze venom out of the sac…and down through the fang into the prey. Just like a--”

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” I said.

She nodded, finally taking her eyes off the snake in order to look at me.

“I was thinking of trying to do something with a sharpened quill, but this would work lots better--it’s already designed for the job.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 93, "Choices." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Here are some thoughts about hand-washing, something we're all paying a lot more attention to these days:
A surgeon scrubs before operating for the sake of cleanliness, of course, but that isn’t all there is to it. The ritual of soaping the hands, scrubbing the nails, rinsing the skin, repeated and repeated to the point of pain, is as much a mental activity as a physical one. The act of washing oneself in this obsessive way serves to focus the mind and prepare the spirit; one is washing away external preoccupation, sloughing petty distraction, just as surely as one scrubs away germs and dead skin.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "The Fiery Cross." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) When you're suddenly faced with a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease, it helps to have an experienced doctor nearby. The advice Claire is giving Jamie seems awfully familiar to us now, doesn't it?
“We can’t let Willie be near him,” I said, low-voiced so as not to be overheard; Willie and Ian were by the penfold, forking hay into the horses’ manger. “Or Ian. He’s very infectious.”

Jamie frowned.

“Aye. What ye said, though, about incubation—”

“Yes. Ian might have been exposed through the dead man, Willie might have been exposed to the same source as Lord John. Either one of them might have it now, but show no sign yet.” I turned to look at the two boys, both of them outwardly as healthy as the horses they were feeding.

“I think,” I said, hesitating as I formed a vague plan, “that perhaps you had better camp outside with the boys tonight--you could sleep in the herb shed, or camp in the grove. Wait a day or so; if Willie’s infected--if he got it from the same source as Lord John--he’ll likely be showing signs by then. If not, then he’s likely all right."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "Plague and Pestilence." Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) At a time like this, it's tempting to succumb to panic, but we have to fight against it, to stay focused on what needs to be done.
“But—” Brianna stopped dead, her mouth too dry to speak. Don’t go! she wanted to cry. Don’t leave me alone! I can’t keep him alive, I don’t know what to do!

“They need me,” Claire said, very gently. She turned, skirts whispering, to the impatiently waiting Robin, and vanished into the twilight.

“And I don’t?” Brianna’s lips moved, but she didn’t know whether she had spoken aloud or not. It didn’t matter; Claire was gone, and she was alone.

She felt light-headed, and realized that she had been holding her breath. She breathed out, and in, deeply, slowly. The fear was a poisonous snake, writhing round her spine, slithering through her mind. Ready to sink its fangs in her heart. She took one more breath through gritted teeth, seized the snake by the head, mentally stuffed it wriggling into a basket, and slammed down the lid. So much for panic, then.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 71, "A Feeble Spark." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
10) This next quote seems very apt in the current crisis, when governments in many places have been slow to react. We're going to need all the sensible suggestions people can come up with in order to deal with this!
There is a saying, “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” I promptly invented its analogy, based on experience: “When no one knows what to do, anyone with a sensible suggestion is going to be listened to.”

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans." Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
11) As horrible as it is to see people dying from a disease you can't cure, it's heartbreaking to see the impact on those who are left behind.
I was getting terribly tired of funerals. This was the third, in as many days. We had buried Hortense and the baby together, then the older Mrs. Ogilvie. Now it was another child, one of Mrs. MacAfee’s twins. The other twin, a boy, stood by his sister’s grave, in a shock so profound that he looked like a walking ghost himself, though the disease hadn’t touched him.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 62, "Amoeba." Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
12) This quote captures one of the cruelest aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's very hard for me to imagine what it's like to leave a dying relative alone in the hospital, unable to visit, unable to say goodbye in person or offer words of comfort, or even to hug your loved ones and mourn together. My heartfelt sympathies to any of you who have been in this situation!
But there was a further sense of loss--and a further nagging guilt--in the fact that I could not be there when Ian died, that I had had to leave him for the last time knowing that I would not see him again, unable to offer comfort to him, or to be with Jamie or his family when the blow fell, or even simply to bear witness to his passing.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 87, "Severance and Reunion." Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I hope you've enjoyed this collection. Wishing you all the best of luck as we get through this. Hang in there, and stay safe!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Season 5 DVD/Blu-ray will be released September 15!

The OUTLANDER Season 5 DVD, Blu-ray, and Collector's Edition Blu-ray will be released in the US on September 15, 2020!

You can pre-order on Amazon here:

Collector's Edition Blu-ray

From the description here it appears the Collector's Edition (pictured above) will be similar to the ones from previous seasons.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

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.  Allrights 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 can...call me Da,” he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. “If--if ye want to, I mean,” he added diffidently.

“Da,” she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears.

“Da. Is that Gaelic?”

He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly. “No. It’s only...simple.”

And suddenly it was all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she’d imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 41, "Journey's End".  Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon.  Allrights 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.)
What about the rest of you? Are there other quotes or scenes about fathers in Diana's books that you particularly like?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Outlander Kitchen: To the New World and Back Again

Congratulations to Theresa Carle-Sanders on the publication of her second Outlander Kitchen cookbook, OUTLANDER KITCHEN: To the New World and Back Again!

For those of you who don't know, Theresa is a professional chef and OUTLANDER fan from Canada. You can see some of her recipes on her website here.

From the publisher's description:
With the discovery of a New World comes an explosion of culinary possibilities. The later novels in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and the Lord John Grey series have Jamie, Claire, Lord John, and friends embark on their revolutionary adventures across the Atlantic and back again—and with their voyages come hundreds of new mouthwatering flavors to entice the taste buds of even the most discerning palates.

Professional chef and founder of Outlander Kitchen, Theresa Carle-Sanders returns with another hallmark cookbook--one that dexterously adapts traditional recipes for hungry, modern appetites. Interpreted with a spirit of generous humor and joyous adventure, the recipes herein are a mixture of authentic old-worldreceipts from Scottish settlers, new-world adaptations inspired by the cuisine of indigenous peoples, and humorously delicious character-inspired dishes--all created to satisfy your hunger and insatiable craving for everything Outlander, and with the modern kitchen in mind.
In case you missed it, the first Outlander Kitchen cookbook is available here.

I am not much of a cook myself, but everyone I know who has tried the recipes in the first Outlander Kitchen cookbook has enjoyed them very much, and I encourage you to try them out. It's fortunate that this new book is coming out at a time when so many of us are stuck at home, looking for new recipes to try.

You can find OUTLANDER KITCHEN: To the New World and Back Again at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, in both print and e-book editions.

Please help spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

As we observe Memorial Day today in the US, here are some quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books honoring those who fell in battle.

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

1) The first is from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, after the battle of Prestonpans:
I found them at length some distance up the hill behind the church. Jamie was sitting on a rock, the form of Alexander Kincaid cradled in his arms, curly head resting on his shoulder, the long, hairy legs trailing limp to one side. Both were still as the rock on which they sat. Still as death, though only one was dead.

I touched the white, slack hand, to be sure, and rested my hand on the thick brown hair, feeling still so incongruously alive. A man should not die a virgin, but this one did.

"He's gone, Jamie," I whispered.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) The next quote is also from DRAGONFLY, from the scene in the beginning where Roger and Brianna visit the battlefield at Culloden:
"Heather," Roger said. "It's more common in the summer, when the heather is blooming--then you'll see heaps like that in front of every clan stone. Purple, and here and there a branch of the white heather--the white is for luck, and for kingship; it was Charlie's emblem, that and the white rose."

"Who leaves them?" Brianna squatted on her heels next to the path, touching the twigs with a gentle finger.

"Visitors." Roger squatted next to her. He traced the faded letters on the stone--FRASER. "People descended from the families of the men who were killed here. Or just those who like to remember them."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Here is a bit from the battle of Moores Creek Bridge, in ABOSAA, a reminder that men do terrible things in battle. I can't even imagine what Jamie felt like, killing a man he once considered his friend.
Major Donald MacDonald floundered, rising halfway in the water. His wig was gone and his head showed bare and wounded, blood running from his scalp down over his face. His teeth were bared, clenched in agony or ferocity, ther was no telling which. Another shot struck him and he fell with a splash--but rose again, slow, slow, and then pitched forward into water too deep to stand, but rose yet again, splashing frantically, spraying blood from his shattered mouth in the effort to breathe.

Let it be you, then, lad, said the dispassionate voice. He raised his rifle and shot MacDonald cleanly through the throat. He fell backward and sank at once.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 113, "The Ghosts of Culloden". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) And this is from Lord John's visit in "Haunted Soldier" with the parents of a lieutenant killed at the battle of Crefeld.  Regardless of the circumstances, there's no easy way to deliver news like that:
"I saw your son for the first time only moments before his death," he said, as gently as he could. "There was no time for talk. But I can assure you, sir, that he died instantly--and he died bravely, as a soldier of the king. You--and your wife, of course--may be justly proud of him."

(From LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Part I, "Inquisition". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) The next quote comes from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  Just before the Battle of Monmouth, Claire is thinking about the soldiers who died on D-Day.
I spared a thought for the graves of Normandy and wondered whether those rows upon rows of faceless dead were meant to impose a sort of postmortem tidiness on the costs of war--or whether it was meant rather to underline them, a solemn accounting carried out in endless rows of naughts and crosses.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74, "The Sort of Thing That Will Make a Man Sweat and Tremble". Copyright ©2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Lord John, remembering his friend and first lover, Hector, who died at Culloden:
“He made me go and look at the body--Hal did, my brother,” Grey blurted. He looked down at his hand, where the deep blue of Hector’s sapphire burned against his skin, a smaller version of the one Fraser had reluctantly given him.

“He said that I must; that unless I saw him dead, I should never really believe it. That unless I knew Hector--my friend--was really gone, I would grieve forever. If I saw, and knew, I would grieve, but then I should heal--and forget.” He looked up, with a painful attempt at a smile. “Hal is generally right, but not always.”

Perhaps he had healed, but he would never forget. Certainly he would not forget his last sight of Hector, lying wax-faced and still in the early morning light, long dark lashes resting delicately on his cheeks as they did when he slept. And the gaping wound that had half-severed his head from his body, leaving the windpipe and large vessels of the neck exposed in butchery.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11, "The Torremolinos Gambit". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) This quote comes from AN ECHO IN THE BONE, from William's first taste of combat. This is one of our first glimpses of William's character, and I like the fact that he goes out of his way to treat this dead enemy soldier with dignity.
To his left, though, he caught sight of the American who had tried to shoot him, still lying in the wet grass. With a wary glance at the house, he crawled to the man, who was lying on his face, unmoving. He wanted to see the man’s face, for what reason he couldn’t have said. He rose on his knees and took the man by both shoulders, pulling him over.

The man was clearly dead, shot through the head. Mouth and eyes sagged half open and his body felt strange, heavy and flopping. [....] Gently laying the man back in the grass, he rose and went to fetch his sword. His knees felt peculiar.

Halfway to the spot where his sword lay, he stopped, turned round, and came back. Kneeling down, cold-fingered and hollow-bellied, he closed the man’s dead eyes against the rain.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Long Island". Copyright ©2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

8) And finally, here's a quote from THE FIERY CROSS that seems especially appropriate for Memorial Day:
"Many of us died in battle," he said, his voice scarcely audible above the rustle of the fire. "Many died of burning. Many of us starved. Many died at sea, many died of wounds and illness." He paused. "Many died of sorrow."

His eyes looked beyond the firelit circle for a moment, and I thought perhaps he was searching for the face of Abel MacLennan. He lifted his cup then, and held it high in salute for a moment.

"Slàinte!" murmured a dozen voices, rising like the wind. "Slàinte!" he echoed them--then tipped the cup, so that a little of the brandy fell into the flames, where it hissed and burned blue for an instant's time.

He lowered the cup, and paused for a moment, head bent. He lifted his head then, and raised the cup toward Archie Hayes, who stood across the fire from him, round face unreadable, fire sparking from his silver gorget and his father’s brooch.

"While we mourn the loss of those who died, we must also pay tribute to you who fought and suffered with equal valor--and survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "The Flames of Declaration". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Episode 512: "Never My Love" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 512 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Never My Love".


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









The episode opens without the usual "Previously" voiceover. The recap of last week's episode consists of a montage of moments, punctuated by drumbeats, ratcheting up the tension without a single spoken word. I thought that was very effective.

On a related note, I think this was the first episode we've ever had without the usual opening credit sequence. (Leaving the credits for the end instead.) I thought that was an interesting decision. It made the whole first part of the episode seem more immersive somehow, more suspenseful, as though to tell the audience, "No, you're not getting a break from this just because we have to show the opening credits!"

As the episode begins, we see a 1960's record player, playing the song "Never My Love" by The Association. We're in a house we've never seen before, with 1960's architecture and furnishings.

Claire is sitting on a couch with her back to the camera, staring at the wall. Suddenly we see a closeup of an orange. This is a reference to the orange King Louis gave Claire in Episode 207, "Faith," and it's just the first of many, many subtle "Easter egg" references to previous scenes and events from earlier in the series. The blue vase on the table is another one, going all the way back to Episode 101, "Sassenach". There are lots of these throughout the episode, and I'm not going to try to note all of them! It's an interesting and creative approach, and I thought it worked really well.

Finally we get a look at Claire. She's sitting with an oddly blank expression on her face, and she looks almost catatonic, not like her normal self at all. Notice the painting on the wall, which appears to be depicting the Big House on Fraser's Ridge.

Suddenly we get a flash of the real Claire, lying on the ground with her nose bloodied and evidently broken, a gag in her mouth, looking terrified and absolutely alone. And gradually it becomes clear, this is Claire's way of willing herself to be "elsewhere".
I lay rigid, eyes shut, recalling various nasty experiences of my past and wishing I were in fact in attendance at one of those events, instead of here.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Claire sees Jamie, looking very much as he did when she first met him. I liked that. It makes sense to me that Claire, in desperate need, would conjure up an image of Jamie as he was when she fell in love with him.

Suddenly Claire hears Arvin Hodgepile's voice: "I say we kill her. Leave her for the beasts." (Book-readers will remember Hodgepile as the leader of the gang who abducted Claire.) This is a flashback to an earlier part of the ordeal after she was abducted.

Lionel Brown sneers at her. "Well, aren't you the clever one? Dr. Rawlings. You never thought anyone'd find out about your little newspaper column, did you?"

Claire tries to protest that she was "only trying to help", but Lionel Brown isn't listening. He says he's going to take her to Brownsville, so the women there will "see you for the charlatan you are".

Frankly, this seems like a flimsy reason for abducting Claire. But then, Lionel Brown isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, here or in the book. Still, he's extremely dangerous, and Claire would do well to bear that in mind.

Back in the 1960's "dream-house", the doorbell rings. The family is starting to gather. We see Germain being dangled upside down, Young Ian dressed in a military uniform. Ian greets Jamie with a hug. "Happy Thanksgiving, Uncle."

Another memory intrudes: Claire running from her captors, only to be caught and thrown to the ground before she gets very far. As punishment, Hodgepile cuts her breast with his knife, just as in the book. In the confrontation that follows, I loved Claire's reactions.
Without the slightest notion as to what moved me to do it, I dropped the rock, ran the fingers of my right hand across the cut, and in one swift motion, reached out and drew them down the thin man’s cheek. I repeated the nasty laugh.

“Curse, is it?” I said. “How’s this? Touch me again, and you’ll die within twenty-four hours.”

The streaks of blood showed dark on the white of his face. He was close enough that I could smell the sourness of his breath, and see the fury gather on his face. What on earth do you think you are doing, Beauchamp? I thought, utterly surprised at myself.
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
We haven't seen her this furious in a long time, and I thought Cait was absolutely channeling Claire through this whole scene.

Now we get our first good look at Donner, the man with long curly hair we saw briefly during the attack on the house in last week's episode.

"Do you have clear night skies where you come from?" he asks, in an unmistakably American accent.

But Claire has more urgent things to worry about than this man's peculiar speech. As night falls, she hears the other men laughing, saying, "Her legs aren't tied."

And just when the terror threatens to overwhelm her, the music starts up again. Jamie wraps a blanket around her from behind, saying, "You're shakin' so hard it's making my teeth rattle," just as he did on the night he first met her, in Episode 101, "Sassenach."  I loved that! It makes total sense to me that she would reach instinctively to him for comfort, as she's always done.

In the next scene, Claire is riding in a wagon. One of her captors, a man named Tebbe, gives her a chunk of bread.

The scene at the creek is taken straight from the book.
“The water is my friend,” I said, trying for an air of mystery suitable to a conjure woman. I was not a good liar, but I was lying for my life. “When we go into the river, let go your hold. A water horse will rise up to carry me away.”

His eyes couldn’t get any wider. Evidently, he’d heard of kelpies, or something like them. Even this far from the cataract, the roar of the water had voices in it--if one chose to listen.

“I am not going away with a water horse,” he said with conviction. “I know about them. They take you down, drown you, and eat you.”

“It won’t eat me,” I assured him. “You needn’t go near it. Just stand clear, once we’re in the water. Keep well away.”

And if he did, I’d be under the water and swimming for my life before he could say Jack Robinson.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Unfortunately, Hodgepile grabs her arm before she can put this plan into action, and Claire's mind retreats back to the relative safety of the dream.

In the "dream-house", with "Never My Love" still playing in the background, the family reunion is in full swing. Jocasta and Murtagh are there, and Marsali and Fergus (all of them dressed in 1960's clothing and hairstyles).

Back at the stream, Claire is shouting at the top of her lungs, as Tebbe and Hodgepile drag her in opposite directions, and she comes closer to the creek with every step. "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" she yells, and we see that Donner heard that loud and clear.

Lionel Brown settles the dispute by stuffing a rag into Claire's mouth and tying another cloth tightly around her head, gagging her.

Irritated with the way Claire is glaring at him behind the gag, Lionel Brown ties her to a tree some distance away from the others.

At the "dream-house", the conversation over dinner turns to baby names for Marsali and Fergus's latest child. James, Ian, or maybe Ringo, if it's a boy?  Or perhaps Jocasta, if it's a girl?  Jamie ignores the talk. He is completely focused on Claire, and I got the distinct sense of her holding on to that image of his face (exactly as he looked when she first fell in love with him) as a lifeline.

Suddenly we're back in Claire's present time, and she's lying on the ground with her nose smashed, struggling to breathe. The bunny rabbit is another of those "Easter egg" references, going back to the early episodes of Season 3. You may recall that Jamie saw a rabbit when he woke on the field at Culloden in Episode 301.
My nose was puffed from cheekbone to cheekbone, and swelling fast. I clenched my teeth on the gag and blew outward through my nose, trying to clear it, if only for a moment. Blood tinged with bile sprayed warm across my chin and splattered on my chest—and I sucked air fast, getting a bit.

Blow, inhale. Blow, inhale. Blow … but my nasal passages were almost swollen shut by now, and I nearly sobbed in panic and frustration, as no air came.

Christ, don’t cry! You’re dead if you cry, for God’s sake don’t cry!

Blow … blow … I snorted with the last reserve of stale air in my lungs, and got a hair of clearance, enough to fill them once more.

I held my breath, trying to stay conscious long enough to discover a way to breathe—there had to be a way to breathe.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I thought they did an excellent job of portraying this! It's riveting and terrifying, just as it was the first time I read it in the book. Cait managed to convey the terror and desperation of that moment extremely well.

Fortunately, Donner shows up just in the nick of time, and removes the gag so Claire can breathe again.

"Does the name Ringo Starr mean anything to you?" Even though I knew this was coming, I still felt an excited little shiver up my spine at these words. Another time-traveler!

"I need gemstones."
"I have gemstones." She's lying, of course, but under these circumstances, naturally she'll tell him whatever he wants to hear.

"You ought to act more afraid." And with that, he replaces the gag and walks away.

The next scene is very hard to watch. Lionel Brown brings his nephew Cuddy over and basically goads him into raping Claire. The whole time the boy is assaulting her, Claire is back in the "dream-house", trying desperately to be elsewhere.

In the book, it's clear that the teenage boy didn't actually penetrate her, but I'm glad they didn't bother with that distinction here. It was certainly sexual assault, by anyone's definition.

And then Lionel Brown climbs on top of her, and this time it's very clearly rape. <shudder>

In the "dream-house", the table is set for a festive Thanksgiving dinner. Claire notices water beginning to drip from the ceiling. The roof is leaking.

Jamie's toast at the dinner table is taken almost verbatim from the last chapter of OUTLANDER:
“I meant it, Claire,” he said quietly. “My life is yours. And it’s yours to decide what we shall do, where we go next. To France, to Italy, even back to Scotland. My heart has been yours since first I saw ye, and you’ve held my soul and body between your two hands here, and kept them safe. We shall go as ye say.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "From the Womb of the Earth". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
As I was trying to recall why the words seemed so familiar, I caught sight of Lionel Brown sitting at the dinner table. Wow, I really wasn't expecting that!

Back in the present day, Claire lies still after Brown is finished with her. He calls, "Who's next for a go with the hedge-whore?" That made me want to throw up.

Two more men approach Claire out of the darkness, and suddenly we're back in the "dream-house", with babies and little kids and hugs and smiles all round. "Dinna fash," says Jamie, looking down at Claire from an odd angle. "I'm sure Roger and Bree will be here soon." But a few moments later, the doorbell rings.

Claire answers the door to find a pair of policemen (strongly resembling Hodgepile and Brown), telling her that Roger, Bree, and Jemmy have been killed in a car accident.

The next scene finally switches away from Claire's point of view, to pick up the MacKenzies' storyline where we left off in Episode 511, "Journeycake". We see them recovering from their trip through the stones, and suddenly Jemmy runs toward something he recognizes....

....which turns out to be Ian. So the stones evidently spat them out, and they never left the 18th century.

"I was thinking about home."
"So was I."

I'm really disappointed with the way this turned out! I saw it coming a mile away, and in fact was quite upset last week when it occurred to me that this was a distinct possibility. Putting the viewers through all those emotional goodbye scenes that we saw in Episode 511, only to say, in effect, "Never mind! Just kidding, we didn't mean it, we're back!" makes me feel manipulated, as though the whole long sequence of emotional farewells was not only pointless, but that I must have been an idiot to fall for it.

Spending all that screen time and that long emotional buildup to give the characters and the viewers time to adjust to the idea of the MacKenzies' departure, only to reveal it was all for nothing, seems to me like a cheap trick, and I don't like that At All. I suspect the whole thing was planned on purpose to set up the dramatic sequence we see later in this episode, where Roger and Ian arrive just in time to join in the rescue. And while the characters may be OK with that -- they can pick up where they left off and dive right into Season 6 -- I am left feeling that my emotions have been toyed with for no other purpose than to create a cliffhanger that will drive up ratings for the season finale.

I keep reminding myself it's only a TV show, but this really bothers me. Diana Gabaldon says this plot twist was NOT something she came up with, but the way they resolved the situation in this episode is inevitably going to make me view the events of Episode 511 in a more negative light. I think that's unfortunate.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad they came back! But I think they never should have left in the first place.

Moving on....

Bree, Roger, Jemmy, and Ian arrive back at the Ridge a few days later, in time to see the fiery cross blazing on the mountaintop, where Jamie lit it at the end of Episode 511. They hurry back, to find Jamie gathering his men, preparing to leave in pursuit of Claire's abductors.

I love that Jamie is wearing his kilt! <g>

The exchange between Roger and Jamie comes straight from the book, and I thought it was really well done:
“Ye called me,” he said at last, still looking up into the blazing dark. “At the Gathering, at the fire.”

“Seas vi mo lâmh, Roger an t’oranaiche, mac Jeremiah mac Choinneich,” Jamie said quietly. “Aye, I did. Stand by my side, Roger the singer, son of Jeremiah.”

“Seas vi mo lâmh, a mhic mo thaighe,” Roger said. “Stand by my side—son of my house. Did ye mean that?”

“Ye know that I did.”

“Then I mean it, too.” He reached out and rested his hand on Jamie’s shoulder, and I saw the knuckles whiten as he squeezed.

“I will stand by you. We will stay.”

Beside me, Brianna let out the breath she had been holding, in a sigh like the twilight wind.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 110, "Man of Blood". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Ian puts on his war paint, preparing for battle, and the men ride out.

In the next scene, we're back in the "dream-house", just Claire and Jamie, and it feels oddly peaceful, with just the two of them there. Gradually Claire comes awake, to the sound of gunfire and a blaze of firelight.

Jamie to the rescue, finally!! In the book, this is what I always think of as the "cavalry-coming-over-the-hill" moment, and usually it's the first chance I have to take a deep breath in quite some time.

In the ensuing melee, watch Roger. He's just killed a man in battle. I'm not sure which man it was, but it doesn't really matter. It's a huge moment for him personally. As Diana put it in the Prologue to THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, "It marks you, killing. No matter why it's done."

In the "dream-house", when Jamie said, "Dinna be afraid. There's the two of us now," I actually started to cry, from relief.

Jamie's reaction to the sight of Claire was very well done. He stares at first, as if not believing what he's seeing, but then he cuts her bonds and says quietly, "You are alive, you are whole, mo nighean donn," in echo of what he said to Roger after the hanging.

I'm very glad they included the bit with the knife and Jamie's, "It is myself who kills for her." I've always loved that in the book.

"Kill them all." I liked the way Sam said that, but the execution scene was still shocking! Notice Ian walking up to them with a tomahawk in one hand and an Iroquois war club in the other.

When Jamie bent to pick Claire up, I thought at once of this line:
He’d led her through the morning light in that clearing, a blood-soaked Adam, a battered Eve, looking upon the knowledge of good and evil. And then he had wrapped her in his plaid, picked her up, and walked away to his horse.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The next morning, by the stream, Claire looks almost like a completely different person, wrapped in Jamie's plaid with her hair hanging down over her face. She seems to force herself to take an interest in the others, asking about Marsali, telling Jamie about Donner. But all the time, she speaks in a monotone, and she won't even look at Jamie. (Contrast that with her excitement in Season 4 when she discovered the fillings in Otter-Tooth's skull.)

"Did he harm you?" Jamie asks, referring to Donner.
"He didn't help me."

Interesting. But again, there's no emotion in her voice. Does she resent the fact that Donner didn't help? Is she angry? She seems to be completely numb.

Jamie tells her that the MacKenzies have come home. He reaches out very gently to touch her shoulder, and she doesn't flinch away at his touch.

Home at last! Bree comes out to meet them, and my heart broke for her, seeing the look on her face.

"I thought I'd never see you again," Claire says. Again, I blame whoever had the idea to send them away in the first place! The thought that Bree's absence added to Claire's distress during the ordeal, and it was all so unnecessary, makes me mad.

Here comes Marsali, looking MUCH more pregnant than when last seen. From the point of view of the people on the Ridge, only a few days have passed, probably less than a week, from the abduction to Claire's return home. How did Marsali grow a baby bump that size in such a short time? (Particularly if she's carrying Henri-Christian, who presumably wouldn't weigh as much as an average fetus.) That doesn't make sense to me.

The next scene, where Bree helps Claire take a bath, is quiet but poignant. Claire appears to be scraping dirt or bloodstains from her fingernails. Bree is silent, but I can imagine her thinking that it would have been nice for someone to tend to her this way, after she was raped by Stephen Bonnet.

"You have my hand, Mama. And my ear, if you need it." This line is a deliberate echo of what Lizzie told Bree after her rape in Season 4.

The scene between Jamie and Claire was well done, but in my opinion they can't compete with the book version, which is one of my all-time favorite chapters in the whole series.

"I'm glad the others are dead," Claire says. "I'm sorry that I am." What?!?  I'm not sure how to interpret that line. Does she mean she feels dead inside?
“I have lived through a fucking world war,” I said, my voice low and venomous. “I have lost a child. I have lost two husbands. I have starved with an army, been beaten and wounded, been patronized, betrayed, imprisoned, and attacked. And I have fucking survived!” My voice was rising, but I was helpless to stop it. “And now should I be shattered because some wretched, pathetic excuses for men stuck their nasty little appendages between my legs and wiggled them?!” I stood up, seized the edge of the washstand and heaved it over, sending everything flying with a crash—basin, ewer, and lighted candlestick, which promptly went out.

“Well, I won’t,” I said quite calmly.

“Nasty little appendages?” he said, looking rather stunned.

“Not yours,” I said. “I didn’t mean yours. I’m rather fond of yours.” Then I sat down and burst into tears.

His arms came round me, slowly and gently. I didn’t startle or jerk away, and he pressed my head against him, smoothing my damp, tangled hair, his fingers catching in the mass of it.

“Christ, ye are a brave wee thing,” he murmured.

“Not,” I said, eyes closed. “I’m not.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Cait did a wonderful job with the show's version of this speech. This episode has shown some of her best work since Episode 207, "Faith", in my opinion. Jamie's reaction was much more subdued than I expected. No shouting, no smashing of furniture, no overt indication of the depth of his own rage, or guilt. I wish they'd taken a little time to let us see the impact of all this on Jamie, as well.

I liked the scene between Roger and Bree, especially the last part, which comes straight from the book. I'm glad they took the time to acknowledge the toll the rescue took on Roger.

The next scene takes place in Claire's surgery, where Claire and Marsali are tending to the injured Lionel Brown, tied down on the surgery table. I thought the substitution of Marsali for Mrs. Bug in this scene worked very well. Marsali obviously has a personal stake in this -- she was attacked, after all -- and it's plausible that she would be in the surgery, tending to Brown.

Claire starts to pick up a scalpel, and suddenly we see her in the "dream-house", examining the orange we saw near the beginning of the episode. I'm not quite sure what they intended to convey with this. A reminder of the encounter with King Louis? That doesn't seem to fit here.

"I will do you no harm," Claire says, and walks out of the room. She makes it almost to the top of the stairs, then collapses, sobbing.

I was glad to see her finally let out some of what she's been feeling, though I'm sure this barely scratched the surface.

Marsali has her own plans for Lionel Brown, as it turns out.

"If I'm not well-treated," he taunts her, "my brother will come with his men, and he will slaughter you, and burn the houses over your heads while you sleep."

Marsali is unmoved. She fills a syringe with an extract of poisonous water hemlock root, and injects Lionel Brown in the neck, killing him almost instantly.

"[Claire] took an oath to do no harm. I have taken no such oath. You hurt me. You hurt my family. You hurt my ma. I'll watch you burn in hell before I let you harm another soul in this house."

Go Marsali!

Jamie finds her a little while later. He doesn't reproach her for killing Brown. In fact he's gentle with her. When she worries that she may be going to hell, he says, "Nothing to fear, lass."

The next scene shows Jamie riding into Brownsville alone, bringing the body of Lionel Brown home to his family. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes from ABOSAA chapter 34, "The Exhibits in the Case."

Richard Brown takes the news more calmly than I expected. "Lionel, he reaped what he sowed. And you did what you must." And then he adds, in an ominous tone, "As will I, when the time comes."

Jamie's voiceover on the ride home is taken from the Prologue to THE FIERY CROSS. I loved hearing it spoken out loud.
I have lived through war, and lost much. I know what’s worth the fight, and what is not. Honor and courage are matters of the bone, and what a man will kill for, he will sometimes die for, too.

And that, O kinsman, is why a woman has broad hips; that bony basin will harbor a man and his child alike. A man’s life springs from his woman’s bones, and in her blood is his honor christened.

For the sake of love alone, would I walk through fire again.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, "Prologue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I didn't really care for the final scene between Roger and Bree. Much as I love Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken", I think the writer was trying too hard to make the point.

"We wanted the stones to take us home, and they did." OK, we get the idea! Is it really necessary to spell it out again?

The next scene, with Jamie and Claire, is very good. Claire looks battered, bruised, but happy to be alive, enjoying the pleasures of "an ordinary day" and Jamie's company. She's not yet fully recovered, but getting there.

Thunder rumbles ominously in the distance. There will be troubles yet to come, the Revolution, for one thing. But there's time enough to worry about that later.

I'm so glad they included the classic final line of THE FIERY CROSS, though they surely knew the book-fans were counting on hearing it:
“When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’--ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "And Yet Go Out To Meet It". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And I let out an involuntary "Awwwwww!!" at the words, as I always do.

The final scene shows Jamie and Claire in bed, naked, obviously having just had sex.

"Ye are a brave wee thing," Jamie says.
"Am I?"
"Aye. How do you feel?"
"Safe," she says, and relaxes, safe in his arms.

I really enjoyed the a capella version of the OUTLANDER theme music that accompanied the credits at the end of the episode.

This was a terrific season finale, a great way to wrap up Season 5!
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes.

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Mother's Day quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Here are a few of my favorite quotes about motherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books. Hope you enjoy them!


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

1) Marsali, in an advanced state of pregnancy, and five-year-old Germain:
She leaned back a little and pushed a hand firmly into the side of her mound. Then she seized Germain's hand and put it on the spot. Even from where I stood, I could see the surge of flesh as the baby kicked vigorously in response to being poked.

Germain jerked his hand away, startled, then put it back, looking fascinated, and pushed.

"Hello!" he said loudly, putting his face close to his mother's belly. "Comment ça va in there, Monsieur L'Oeuf?"

"He's fine," his mother assured him. "Or she. But babies dinna talk right at first. Ye ken that much. Félicité doesna say anything but 'Mama' yet."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Malting Floor". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) I like the realistic depictions of breastfeeding in these books, even though I've never had kids of my own. Here's Claire with Brianna, age three months:
Brianna burrowed into the front of my red chenille dressing gown making small voracious grunting noises.

"You can't be hungry again," I said to the top of her head. "I fed you not two hours ago." My breasts were beginning to leak in response to her rooting, though, and I was already sitting down and loosening the front of my gown.

"Mrs. Hinchcliffe said that a baby shouldn't be fed every time it cries," Frank observed. "They get spoilt if they aren't kept to a schedule."

It wasn't the first time I had heard Mrs. Hinchcliffe's opinions on child-rearing.

"Then she'll be spoilt, won't she?" I said coldly, not looking at him. The small pink mouth clamped down fiercely, and Brianna began to suck with mindless appetite. I was aware that Mrs. Hinchcliffe also thought breast-feeding both vulgar and insanitary. I, who had seen any number of eighteenth-century babies nursing contentedly at their mothers' breasts, didn't.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Jamie lost his mother at a very young age, but he hasn't forgotten her:
I had heard what he said to the plover he released. Though I had only a few words of Gaelic, I had heard the old salutation often enough to be familiar with it. “God go with ye, Mother," he had said.

A young mother, dead in childbirth. And a child left behind. I touched his arm and he looked down at me.

“How old were you?” I asked.

He gave me a half-smile. “Eight,” he answered. “Weaned, at least."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Bree's reaction on the night before Claire goes back through the stones, when she thinks she'll never see her mother again:
"It's like--there are all these things I don't even know!" she said, pacing with quick, angry steps. "Do you think I remember what I looked like, learning to walk, or what the first word I said was? No, but Mama does! And that's so stupid, because what difference does it make, it doesn't make any difference at all, but it's important, it matters because she thought it was, and ... oh, Roger, if she's gone, there won't be a soul left in the world who cares what I'm like, or thinks I'm special not because of anything, but just because I'm me! She's the only person in the world who really, really cares I was born, and if she's gone..." She stood still on the hearthrug, hands clenched at her sides, and mouth twisted with the effort to control herself, tears wet on her cheeks. Then her shoulders slumped and the tension went out of her tall figure.

"And that's just really dumb and selfish," she said, in a quietly reasonable tone. "And you don't understand, and you think I'm awful."

"No," Roger said quietly. "I think maybe not." He stood and came behind her, putting his arms around her waist, urging her to lean back against him. She resisted at first, stiff in his arms, but then yielded to the need for physical comfort and relaxed, his chin propped on her shoulder, head tilted to touch her own.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Mother Hildegarde is very perceptive:
"I have noticed,” she said slowly, “that time does not really exist for mothers, with regard to their children. It does not matter greatly how old the child is--in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as it was when it was born, when it learned to walk, as it was at any age--at any time, even when the child is fully grown and a parent itself.”

“Especially when they’re asleep,” I said, looking down again at the little white stone. “You can always see the baby then.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "I Shall Go Down to the Sea". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Jenny, on being the mother of a two-year-old:
“Ah,” Jenny sighed contentedly, bending to inspect her appearance in the gold-framed mirror. She wet a finger and smoothed her brows, then finished doing up the buttons at her throat. “Nice to finish dressing wi’out someone clinging to your skirts or wrapped round your knees. Some days I can scarce go to the privy alone, or speak a single sentence wi’out being interrupted.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Last Reason". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Claire, in her farewell letter to Bree:
You are my baby, and always will be. You won’t know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you’ll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside. Always.

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

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rightsreserved.)
8) Roger's mother saved his life in the moments before she died in the Bethnal Green tube station collapse in March, 1943.
"She let go my hand,” he said. The words came more easily now; the tightness in his throat and chest was gone. “She let go my hand ... and then she picked me up. That small woman--she picked me up, and threw me over the wall. Down into the crowd of people on the platform below. I was knocked mostly out by the fall, I think--but I remember the roar as the roof went. No one on the stair survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, "Clever Lad". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) This is one of my favorite quotes about motherhood from the whole series:
“Did I ever think to thank ye, Sassenach?" he said, his voice a little husky.

“For what?" I said, puzzled. He took my hand, and drew me gently toward him. He smelled of ale and damp wool, and very faintly of the brandied sweetness of fruitcake.

“For my bairns," he said softly. "For the children that ye bore me."

"Oh," I said. I leaned slowly forward, and rested my forehead against the solid warmth of his chest. I cupped my hands at the small of his back beneath his coat, and sighed. "It was ... my pleasure."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, “Beans and Barbecue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Happy Mother's Day!