The OUTLANDER universe as a garden

Hollyhocks, from gardenia.net

Recently on TheLitForum, we were discussing the early chapters of OUTLANDER, and the fact that so many details that will be important later in the series are introduced at the very beginning. And I suddenly found myself thinking Deep Thoughts about the series as a whole.

Picture the whole story, the entire OUTLANDER universe (including the main series, the Lord John books, all the novellas and shorter pieces, and the TV series) as a garden that started with Diana Gabaldon planting those first seeds. That garden grows over time. It evolves, it becomes more complex and colorful and detailed, with every new book or story or major character (more varieties of plants and flowers?) that Diana adds to it. As the garden grows, the roots of these plants become interconnected, in much the same way that the various parts of the OUTLANDER story (Jamie and Lord John's relationship, for example) are inextricably intertwined with one another.

And it's still growing -- even now, in the middle of this #Droughtlander when we are in between books and it may be quite some time before we get anything new -- because readers' reactions change over time, as we pick up new details on re-reading, or some aspect of the books strikes us differently as we get older, or because something in the TV show caused us to see a scene or a character in a different light. Whatever the reason, the story changes in subtle ways (the garden continues to grow) every time you come back to it, even if you've read or listened to the books many times before. <g> And it will continue to do that for years to come.

That last thought reminded me of this bit from BEES.

*** SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't read GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE, Book 9 of the OUTLANDER series, there is a Major Spoiler below! Read at your own risk.

I reached out and put a hand on the hive, feeling the lovely deep hum of the workings within. Amy Higgins is gone--is dead. You know her--her dooryard is full of hollyhocks and she’s got--had--jasmine growing by her cowshed and a good patch of dogwood nearby.

I stood quite still, letting the vibration of life come into my hand and touch my heart with the strength of transparent wings.

Her flowers are still growing.

(From GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 30, "You Should Know". Copyright© 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Perhaps, like Amy's flowers outliving the one who planted them, OUTLANDER's metaphorical "garden" will continue to grow even after the series is finally complete. That idea, that the story continues to grow and evolve as readers' reactions change over time, is something I've been aware of for a long time, but somehow that imagery, picturing the overall story as a garden, is making the concept easier for me to grasp. (The photo of hollyhocks in bloom comes from gardenia.net.)

DISCLAIMER: I am not a writer of fiction and I have no ambitions to be one. This sort of metaphorical prose doesn't come naturally to me, and I rarely express myself in terms like that. But the image was so vivid in my mind (I kept picturing one of those time-lapse videos, showing how the garden grows and changes over time) that I wanted to share it, if only just to see if it made sense to anyone else.

I'd be interested to hear what the rest of you think. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

If you want to see the discussion on TheLitForum, the thread is here. You have to sign up to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

18 comments

Diana Gabaldon said...

That is absolutely lovely, Karen--I'm so moved by your beautiful imagery and great insights. Thank you!

Julia said...

Great visual! Thanks for your post :)

BetsyG said...

As a garden lover…this is a perfect analogy!

Unknown said...

That's just a perfect way to look at the world of Outlander!

Phyllis said...

What a lovely way to describe the wonderful world of Outlander! Beautifully written and a new way of thinking about the read.

Anonymous said...

Profound and so very true! Thank you.

Gail Lee Cowdin said...

So well said and very true. I can picture the garden. It made me think that like Diana's "gardens", our own lives seem to bloom and evolve. Nice blog!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful analogy. I’m glad you decided to share it!

Gwen said...

I can really relate to your analogy of the garden! Thanks for sharing it 🥰
BTW, the hollyhock photo is gorgeous!

Barb Aanderud said...

I love this analogy, and will now look at Diana’s books and my flowers in a whole new way. Thank you for sharing!

Elise Skidmore said...

That is a lovely analogy, beautifully put. I hadn't thought of it in those terms before, but the growing, expanding, garden is perfect.

VeeKaye said...

This is a lovely analogy. Thank you for posting it.

Shaar said...

It was a post from D.G. that brought me here. Very well put. Your words appeal to me not only because I am a gardener and beekeeper, but also because we are responsible for our forest as well. It is the forest where we plant the trees that will be mature in 75 years. It is our legacy to those that come after. Be well and thank you for sharing your thoughts. :)

Unknown said...

Beautifully put.Our gardens,big or small & all of nature have as big a part in the world as any of us.I hope someone looks after Amy's flowers,I'm sure they will.

Anonymous said...

Hallo, Susanna from Germany is here🙂i try to do my best with english🤪
Karen your analogy is perfect to me! The books of Diana are like a wonderful garden and each plant/chapter puts seed into my heart each time i read a book twice. And every time this seed rise to another flower, once the flower of love or a flower of happiness, another time it rise to sadness..... and all this feelings are inspiration and makes my life richer and more colourful. I am blessed with this books...

Anonymous said...

Her flowers are still growing - yes, that can be said of many gardens and home landscaping. Her presence is still felt because her flowers are still growing. I hope that will be said of my flowers one day.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's just wonderful. You SHOULD be a writer!

Karen Henry said...

Thanks so much to all of you for the kind words! I really appreciate it.

Karen

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