MOHB is 10 years old!

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD 10th anniversary

Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on the 10th anniversary of the publication of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka MOHB or MOBY), Book 8 in the OUTLANDER series, which was released in hardcover on June 10, 2014. In honor of the occasion, here's a collection of ten of my favorite quotes from that book. There are so many wonderful bits in MOHB, it was hard to choose, but I hope you enjoy these!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

If you haven't read WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, you will find MAJOR SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.

1) Jenny Fraser Murray, like Claire, is not a woman to be messed with. Ever. I love her reaction to seeing Lord John's brother Hal, for the first time in many years.

Leaning forward, Jamie peered over Jenny’s shoulder to see a large Highland dag in her hand, its eighteen-inch barrel trained steady on the duke’s chest. What he could see of her face was white and set like marble.

[...]

[Hal] wasn’t moving, but Jamie saw that he had sat down with his legs flexed under him; he could be out of the chair in one lunge, if he chose. Very quietly, Jamie edged to the side. He was close enough that Jenny should have sensed him behind her, but he could see why she didn’t; her shoulder blades were pressed together in concentration, sharp-edged under the cloth as a pair of hawk’s wings.

“It was your men who came to my house,” she said, her voice low. “Came more than once, to loot and destroy, to take the food from our mouths. Who took my husband away”--for an instant, the barrel trembled, but then steadied again--“away to the prison where he took the ill that killed him. Move one inch, my lord, and I’ll shoot ye in the guts. Ye’ll die quicker than he did, but I daresay ye willna think it fast enough.”

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "In Which Mrs. Figg Takes a Hand". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) One of my favorite chapters in this book is the one where Claire and Jamie talk about what happened on the night that Claire had sex with Lord John. It's an emotionally intense scene, to say the least, but I appreciated having Claire's explanation in her own words.

“I was numb--deliberately numb, because I couldn’t bear to feel. He could; he had more courage than I did. And he made me feel it, too. That’s why I hit him.”

I’d been numb, and John had ripped off the dressing of denial, the wrappings of the small daily necessities that kept me upright and functioning; his physical presence had torn away the bandages of grief and showed what lay below: myself, bloody and unhealed.

I felt the air thick in my throat, damp and hot and itching on my skin. And finally I found the word.

“Triage,” I said abruptly. “Under the numbness, I was … raw. Bloody. Skinned. You do triage, you … stop the bleeding first. You stop it. You stop it, or the patient dies. He stopped it.”

He’d stopped it by slapping his own grief, his own fury, over the welling blood of mine. Two wounds, pressed together, blood still flowing freely--but no longer lost and draining, flowing instead into another body, and the other’s blood into mine, hot, searing, not welcome--but life.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Welcome Coolness in the Heat, Comfort in the Midst of Woe". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) I have to laugh at the idea of Lord John Grey, that most Loyalist of men, enlisting in the Continental Army. Under duress and using a pseudonym, to be sure, but still, it was the last thing I'd expected him to do!

And as the sun set on the third day since he had left his home, Lord John William Bertram Armstrong Grey found himself once more a free man, with a full belly, a swimming head, a badly mended musket, and severely chafed wrists, standing before the Reverend Peleg Woodsworth, right hand uplifted, reciting as prompted:

“I, Bertram Armstrong, swear to be true to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies and opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress and the orders of the generals and officers set over me by them.”

Bloody hell, he thought. What next?

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "Give Me Liberty...". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) In 1739, Roger encounters another time-traveler, a healer named Hector McEwan, who came from the year 1841. I was fascinated by his use of the blue light!

What was scaring him [...] was that the healer’s hands were blue. No doubt about it. It wasn’t a trick of the light—there wasn’t any to speak of, bar the dull glow of the smoored fire. It wasn’t a huge thing; no fiery coruscations or neon. But a soft blue tinge had come up between the healer’s fingers, crept over the backs of his hands—and now spread in a faint haze around his hands, seeming to penetrate Buck’s chest.

Roger glanced to one side, then the other, without moving his head. The MacLarens were paying rapt attention but showed no sign of seeing anything startling. They don’t see it. The hairs on his forearms lifted silently. Why do I see it?

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 37, "Cognosco Te". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) I remain in awe of the way Bree handles herself throughout this whole book, especially when the intruders attack Lallybroch. In the midst of a truly terrifying situation, she never loses sight of her number one priority, keeping the kids safe.

The truck’s door opened and Jem tumbled out, then turned round to help Mandy, who was no more than a short dark blot in the recesses of the truck.

“GET BACK IN THE TRUCK!” Brianna bellowed, leaping down the slope, skittering on rolling stones and bending her ankles in spongy patches of heather. “JEMMY! GET BACK!”

She saw Jem turn, his face white in the glare of the light, but it was too late. The front door flew open and two dark figures rushed out, running for the truck.

She wasted no more breath but ran for all she was worth. A shotgun was useless at any distance—or maybe not. She skidded to a halt, shouldered the gun, and fired. Buckshot flew into the gorse with a whizzing sound like tiny arrows, but the bang had halted the intruders in their tracks.

“BACK IN THE TRUCK!” she roared, and fired again. The intruders galloped toward the house, and Jem, bless his heart, leapt into the truck like a startled frog and slammed the door.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "In Which Things Converge". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

6) Frank's "Dearest Deadeye" letter is very intriguing, on a number of levels. It makes me very curious to find out more about what Frank knew. Diana Gabaldon says she plans eventually to tell Frank's story, but that will have to wait until the main series is done.

[If] worse should come to worst--and you can do it--then the past may be your best avenue of escape. I have no idea how it works; neither does your mother, or at least she says so. I hope I may have given you a few tools to help, if that should be necessary.

And … there’s him. Your mother said that Fraser sent her back to me, knowing that I would protect her--and you. She thought that he died immediately afterward. He did not. I looked for him, and I found him. And, like him, perhaps I send you back, knowing--as he knew of me--that he will protect you with his life.

I will love you forever, Brianna. And I know whose child you truly are.

With all my love,
Dad

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "All My Love". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

7) This bit from Claire's memories of her childhood is just priceless! One of many funny scenes in this book.

The air was still and the candle’s flame burned high and steady, pure against the bricks of the wall. Perhaps it was the candle that brought to mind Uncle Lamb and the day he’d told me about vestal virgins, showing me a blue chalcedony carving from the temple of Vesta.

“Should a virgin betray her vows,” he’d said, waggling his eyebrows at me, “she’d be whipped, then sealed up alive in a small underground tomb, equipped with a table and chair, some water, and a single candle. And there she would die, when the air ran out.”

I’d considered that with a sort of morbid relish--I might have been ten--and then asked with interest just how a vestal might betray her vows. Which is how I learned what used to be called “the facts of life,” Uncle Lamb not being one to shirk any fact that wandered across his path, or mine. And while Uncle Lamb had assured me that the cult of Vesta had long since ceased operations, I had at that point resolved not to be a virgin, just in case.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 55, "Vestal Virgins". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

8) The scene where Claire gets shot during the Battle of Monmouth scared me badly. But I really like the way Jamie takes care of her afterward. To me, it reads like foreshadowing of what their lives may be like as they grow older. Caring for one another in old age and infirmity, with tenderness and love.

“Are ye all right, Sassenach? Is it bad, then?”

“No,” I said, and wiped my eyes hastily on a corner of the sheet. “No--it--it’s fine. I just--oh, Jamie, I love you!” I did give way to tears, then, snuffling and blubbering like an idiot. “I’m sorry,” I said, trying to get hold of myself. “I’m all right, there’s nothing wrong, it’s just--”

“Aye, I ken fine what it’s just,” he said, and, setting the candle and pot on the floor, lay down on the bed beside me, balancing precariously on the edge.

“Ye’re hurt, a nighean,” he said softly, smoothing my hair off my wet cheeks. “And fevered and starved and worn to a shadow. There’s no much of ye left, is there, poor wee thing?”

I shook my head and clung to him. “There’s not much of you left, either,” I managed to say, mumbling wetly into the front of his shirt.

He made a small amused noise and rubbed my back, very gently. “Enough, Sassenach,” he said. “I’m enough. For now.”

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 87, "Moonrise". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

9) The "Coda in Three-Two Time" between Parts 5 and 6 of this book is just hilarious! Here's one of my favorite parts.

It was the best party that Dorothea Jacqueline Benedicta Grey had ever attended. She had danced with earls and viscounts in the most beautiful ballrooms in London, eaten everything from gilded peacock to trout stuffed with shrimp and riding on an artful sea of aspic with a Triton carved of ice brandishing his spear over all. And she’d done these things in gowns so splendid that men blinked when she hove into view.

Her new husband didn’t blink. He stared at her so intently through his steel-rimmed spectacles that she thought she could feel his gaze on her skin, from across the room and right through her dove-gray dress, and she thought she might burst with happiness, exploding in bits all over the taproom of the White Camel tavern. Not that anyone would notice if she did; there were so many people crammed into the room, drinking, talking, drinking, singing, and drinking, that a spare gallbladder or kidney underfoot would pass without notice.

Just possibly, she thought, one or two whole people might pass without notice, too--right out of this lovely party.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, "A Coda in Three-Two Time". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

10) I love this scene between William and Jamie, where they finally talk about Geneva.

“She had courage.” It was said softly, the words dropped like pebbles in water, and the ripples spread through the tiny room. Fraser was still looking straight at him. “Did they tell ye that, then? Her family, the folk who kent her?”

“No,” William said, and felt the word sharp as a stone in his throat. For just an instant, he’d seen her in those words. He’d seen her, and the knowledge of the immensity of his loss struck through his anger like a lightning bolt. He drove his fist into the table, striking it once, twice, hammering it ’til the wood shook and the legs juddered over the floor, papers flying and the inkwell falling over.

He stopped as suddenly as he’d started, and the racket ceased.

“Are you sorry?” he said, and made no effort to keep his voice from shaking. “Are you sorry for it, damn you?”

Fraser had turned away; now he turned sharply to face William but didn’t speak at once. When he did, his voice was low and firm.

“She died because of it, and I shall sorrow for her death and do penance for my part in it until my own dying day. But--” He compressed his lips for an instant, and then, too fast for William to back away, came round the table and, raising his hand, cupped William’s cheek, the touch light and fierce.

“No,” he whispered. “No! I am not sorry.” Then he whirled on his heel, threw open the door, and was gone, kilt flying.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 136, "Unfinished Business". Copyright © 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I hope you enjoyed this collection! If you haven't read MOHB in a while, this would be a good time, because the second half of OUTLANDER Season 7, which premieres on November 22, will focus mostly on the events of this book.

5 comments

Karen Sencich said...

Karen, I love reading the quotes that you compile from Diana’s books. I woke up to this enjoyable post. As you suggest, it is time to re-read Written in my own Heart’s Blood.

VeeKaye said...

#10 draws tears each time I read it. So powerful. It's why I'm not surprised their relationship continues, grows, and develops.

Martha Hamlett said...

Thank you for recapping! Love the passages you chose.

Nancy Roche said...

Speaking of Bree’s fiery courage, I love the part when she realizes Cameron has escaped and she has to get the kids and herself away from Lallybroch. I always get a giggle when DG has Claire personifying and anthropomorphizing. In this passage it’s Brianna as she’s trying to gather clothes for the kids from a recalcitrant dresser drawer.
“You gdamned fking bloody buggering thing! Don’t you dare get in my way!” “She crashed her fist on top of the dresser, raised her foot, and smashed the sole of her sneaker into the thing so hard that it rocked back and thumped into the wall with a bang. She grabbed the drawer pulls and yanked. The terrorized drawer shot out, and she snatched the whole thing free and flung it into the opposite wall, where it struck and exploded in a rainbow spray of underpants and tiny striped T-shirts. She walked over and looked down at the battered drawer, lying upside down on the floor.” “So there,” she said calmly. “Teach YOU to get in my way when I have things to think about.”
Chapter 32 p.196
Don’t mess with a mother on the warpath!
(Had to abbreviate a bit of the cursing - wasn’t sure if it would go through.)

Karen Henry said...

Nancy - I love that scene, too! Go Bree!!

Karen

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