Publisher: Seal Books
Published: July 1992
Genre: historical fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure
For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones …about a love that transcends the boundaries of time …and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ….
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart …in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising …and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves…
Scotland, 1968. Claire brings her daughter Brianna to Scotland to visit the place Frank studied with such depth and devotion. Claire introduces Brianna to Roger Wakefield, the adopted son of the reverend Frank corresponded and shared academic stories with during and after his second honeymoon with Claire. But Roger and Brianna are set in store for more than nostalgia and acquaintance reunions — little do they know they’ll learn of the years Claire spent away from Frank, and what it means for them.
Scotland & France, 1744-1746. Claire and Jamie flee Scotland for France, and work their way into Charles Stuart’s court in Paris in an attempt to thwart his efforts to reclaim the Scottish throne. Leading the life of a double-agent, Jamie’s political leanings and pride in his country war in his heart, and Claire attempts to navigate court life to help in his efforts. Soon enough their work is needed in Scotland once more, and it appears that fate has a different plan set in store for the Frasers, the MacKenzies, and Scotland.
Note: All Outlander books will be filled with spoilers. If you haven’t read Outlander yet, do not read on!
This would’ve received five stars if it weren’t for France. Not that Gabaldon’s writing was poor in France, or that the history wasn’t fascinating — nothing like that. And it’s not that it was the setting that put me off (France versus Scotland…mmm, I’d take Scotland). The slow pacing and political intrigue was just like in Outlander, except that this time we’re set in the opulence of a French court, with too many characters and too much gossip and too much scheming and it not only took a toll on me but also on Jamie and Claire. They love each other deeply and they care about their cause, but it clearly disrupted their life, being double agents and attempting to change the course of history. It created a rift, in a way. I promise you, if you’re reading Dragonfly in Amber right now and you’re not back in Scotland yet, keep reading. It’ll be worth it! Soon our lovers are back on home land and even they admit France was tedious!
At first I was slightly put off by the twenty-years-into-the-future part of the story — including the switching perspectives — but after a while I genuinely liked it. We see how Claire struggled to maintain a secret, read her mind as she flashed back to the difficulty in her marriage with Frank post-return, felt her love for her daughter Brianna and all that she meant. We can sense how heartbreaking it was for her to come back to the twentieth century and have a child. And then to tell the child about her years away from Frank and hope against all hope she’d believe Claire. That’s tough. Although I still find it hilarious that the most logical of men in this series still believe Claire faster than any woman has (first Jamie, then Anselm, then Roger).
I know that everyone is okay. It’s clear, reading the summaries of the other books, that everyone is okay. But that still didn’t stop the feeling of dread once we were back in Scotland, once you realize Claire really did return to the future, once Jamie and Claire have to say goodbye. So many tears. So. Many.
And the cliffhanger? Good Lord.
There’s a reason this series is successful. It’s not a romance about how two people come together and live happily ever after. It’s about a marriage. About following these two people across time and space, about all the hardships they’ve encountered together and apart, how they work with one another and make decisions and still come out loving one another so deeply and fully it makes your own heart shatter. It’s beautiful.