Friday Fun Facts - 2/24/2012

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) Here's a video about whisky-making. Thanks to Carol at My Outlander Purgatory for the link!

2) The drawing below shows what the interior of a broch looked like in the 18th century. (Click on the picture to see a larger view.)

This cutaway drawing is based on the Dun Carloway broch on the Isle of Lewis, but I think the broch from which Lallybroch got its name would have been similar, judging from the description in OUTLANDER:
"He gave us each a broom, a brush, and a bucket, and pointed us in the direction of the broch," said Jamie, taking up the story.  "Said I'd convinced him of my point, so he'd decided on a more 'constructive' form of punishment."

Ian's eyes rolled slowly up, as though following the rough stones of the broch upward.

"That tower rises sixty feet from the ground," he told me, "and it's thirty feet in diameter, wi' three floors." He heaved a sigh.  "We swept it from the top to the bottom," he said, "and scrubbed it from the bottom to the top. It took five days, and I can taste rotted oat-straw when I cough, even now."

"And you tried to kill me on the third day," said Jamie, "for getting us into that." He touched his head gingerly.  "I had a wicked gash over my ear, where ye hit me wi' the broom."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29 ("More Honesty"). Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Here's what the Z-shaped incision on Tom Christie's hand might have looked like, after his surgery for Dupuytren's contracture in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES. (The picture shows the left hand, and Claire performed this procedure on Christie's right hand, but use your imagination. <g>)

4) There's a mockingbird on Fraser's Ridge that sounds just like Adso the cat. <g>
A mockingbird was busy nearby, practicing its repertoire of calls. It was the bird who lived in the red spruce behind the house; he knew because it paused now and then in the midst of its chatter and trilling to give a fine imitation of Adso the cat's midnight yowl.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41 ("The Gun-Smith"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you doubt that such a thing is possible, watch this:

5) Here's another of those subtle links between the books. I found this one in 2008, and it remains one of my favorites.

Helwater, 1758. Jamie leaves a note for Lord John, a few hours after their confrontation in the stable in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE:
There was indeed a crumpled paper on the desk, a rough square torn from some larger sheet. Grey picked it up gingerly, as though it might explode.

It was a grubby bit of paper, translucent with oil in spots and pungent, clearly used originally to wrap fish. What had he used for ink, Grey wondered, and brushed a ginger thumb across the paper. The black smudged at once, and came off on his skin. Candleblack, mixed with water.

It was unsigned, and curt.

I believe your lordship to be in pursuit of a wild goose.

"Well, thank you very much for your opinion, Mr. Fraser!" he muttered, and crumpling the paper into a ball, crammed it into his pocket.

(From LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 32 ("The Path of Honor"). Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
River Run, 1770.  Brianna hands Lord John a note from Jamie:
The black letters struck him with a small jolt of familiarity.  He had seen Jamie Fraser's hand only once before, but once was enough; it was a distinctive scrawl.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 62 ("Three Thirds of a Ghost"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If this is the only other time Lord John has ever seen Jamie's handwriting, then he must be referring to the scene in BOTB.  I don't quite know what to call this sort of thing. It's not really foreshadowing, because the scene that comes first chronologically was written many years after the one in DRUMS. It feels sort of like a memory of something that hasn't happened yet, if that makes any sense. <g>

If you haven't read BOTB, the fact that Lord John had only seen Jamie's handwriting once before seems like a trivial and unimportant detail.  But once you notice the connection, it gives that little scene in DRUMS a lot more depth than it had before. Consider what Lord John must have been remembering, in the moments after he read that note from Jamie: the confrontation in the stable at Helwater that nearly ended their friendship forever; the note Jamie left for him with the oblique reference to Irish Jacobites; and possibly even their adventure in Ireland, from SCOTTISH PRISONER.  Diana couldn't possibly have known any of those things, at the time she wrote DRUMS, because she doesn't plan it all out years in advance.

When I mentioned this link between BOTB and DRUMS to Diana on Compuserve, back in 2008, her response was:
Very perceptive of you! <g> Yes, that's exactly what I do--leave zillions of tiny details that aren't important in themselves, but leave me with hundreds of ways to go back and pick one up, in order to link the strands between the books, or to twist a storyline in an unexpected direction--or to pull off something Really Unexpected, on occasion. <g>
I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!


Bev said...


Fun as always thanks so much for putting these up. Between these and the comuserve site; both new discoveries for me, I might just make it to 2013 w/o withdrawls.



Karen Henry said...

Thanks, Bev! Glad you've been enjoying BOTH. :-)


gstanley said...

This is serious good reading. I love the analysis, as I am sometimes oblivious to details. I see them but when someone points out the connection I love it!

Mari said...

Absolutely love your FFF! About the last one though, didn't Jamie write his translation of the wild hunt poem in "Scottish prisoner"? I'm going to check. PS:I especially enjoyed the mocking bird calls.

Karen Henry said...

gstanley - Thanks! I find that I pick up new little details on every re-read (or, in my case, "re-listen", as I mostly listen to the audiobooks these days).

Mari - I'm not sure, to be honest. If Lord John did see Jamie's writing on that paper in SP, it's possible that he forgot by the time of DRUMS? Glad you liked the mockingbird video! <g>


KatieM said...

Great as usual Karen! I love when you find images because I'm not great at mental visualizations so your great images always add depth for me!

And the connections between the books are part of what make rereads so fun, there's always something else to catch and connect!


Outlander Kitchen said...

another great collection, Karen. My favourite this week was the broch...that's a lot of sweeping and scrubbing! LOL Theresa

Karen Henry said...

Katie - Thanks! I completely agree with you about the pictures; I've always been fascinated to see what the things/places/people mentioned in the books really looked like, and I enjoy sharing things like this with other fans.

Theresa - Yes, indeed! I picture Ian and Jamie as maybe 10-12 years old at that point, but I could be wrong. Looking at that scene, the reference to Ian coughing makes me shiver a little with foreboding, thinking about the consumption that will eventually kill him.


Adeer1 said...

Wonderful again Karen! I love reading your FFF!

What a valuable little tid bit you gave us from Herself! Very perceptive indeed! Love, love love!
Thank you!

Karen Henry said...


Thanks! I'm fascinated by the way Diana can do that "backward-foreshadowing", or whatever you want to call it. This is something I only started to notice after multiple rereads/relistens, when I was able to slow down enough to catch the tiny details.


Christiane KYPREOS said...

Hello Karen, great job as usual, thanks!the mockingbird sounds mother had a surgery for Dupuytren's contracture so I know about it.So nice of DG to send snippets from Vilnius. take care. Christiane K

Hiedi said...

Dear Karen
I loved the FFF. I have added your site to my favorites list. It is really helping me with my abstaining from reading DL spoilers.

Karen Henry said...

Christiane - thanks! I had never heard of Dupuytren's contracture before I read A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.

Hiedi - Thanks! I'm really glad you're enjoying the FFF. :-)


Powered by Blogger.