Spoilers: They tried to live without their hearts…Jamie and Claire the years apart

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imageAfter hearing the distressing noise, Lord John approaches the door thinking of perhaps going into the room to see if Jamie is alright.  He hears heavy breathing and realizes that Jamie has awakened from a bad dream. He overhears the big Scot talking to his lost wife, “Could I but lay my head in your lap, lass. Feel your hand on me, and sleep wi’ the scent of you in my bed”.  John knows he shouldn’t be hearing this extremely private conversation and tries to back away quietly. Before he gets away he hears Jamie sob and then whisper, his voice full of longing and pain, “Christ Sassenach, I need ye”.

Cue me, ragged intake of breath and leaky eyes.

I’ve been rereading The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon, my favorite of the Lord John books.  Last night, I reached the scene where Lord John Grey hears Jamie cry out as if he was having a nightmare. This is one of those scenes that causes me to take an involuntary sob. The characters have become so real to me that I feel invested in their lives and experience moments of crippling compassion when I read of their moments of distress or pain.  I feel what John feels and what Jamie feels and have to put the book down and take a moment to recover, laugh at my silliness, and curse and simultaneously love Diana for writing books and characters that can move me this much.  I’ve often wondered if Diana feels the kind of empathy I do when she writes. Does she have to take a break and recover, does she smile through her tears at the beauty of these poignant moments she has written?

Diana has written many moving scenes in her novels, but this particular scene gets me every. single. time.  I’m curious as to why this scene, in particular, makes me so…so…verklempt! Reading that scene and “overhearing” Jamie’s private moment with his vanished wife makes me feel like I’m right beside Lord John trying desperately to get away from that door. Like Lord John, I want to go into that room and offer Jamie comfort, but I know there is nothing I can offer that would comfort him.  With that realization, we can now think of nothing worse than Jamie knowing his private pain and moment of grieving was overheard and we are quietly careful as we move down the hall.

Loved Diana’s metaphor of John missing a step and coming down hard as he escapes detection. Hearing Jamie longing for his dead wife brought John back down to Earth hard. The heart wants what it wants, but John is a realist and no fool.  He knows this man will never be his. This man will never be his because his heart belongs to a woman and a ghost at that.

It’s Claire’s ghost that I find myself thinking about this morning and Jamie’s as well, the ghosts of their lost love. I think this scene affects me so much because it is one of those rare moments when we get to see what Jamie is thinking and feeling.  We can guess how lonely he has been without Claire, but this overheard private moment confirms it.  He is trying to live without his heart and having a tough time of it. He needs her. Time hasn’t cured this. A decade separates him from that moment on Craig Na Dun and yet, his need of her hasn’t lessened.  His grief feels raw to me.

I’ve also been thinking this morning about the print shop and how the TV series is going to get us there.  I know there has been some speculation because people can’t wait to see our couple back together.  They want to get to the “good stuff”.  I understand that is “good stuff” and I would love to see them stay as faithful to that scene in the book as possible, but the show has to think about viewers other than book fans. I am reminded of an article I read about adaptations and good story-telling.

…Going from a derivative work to its source, people tend to expect fidelity less than when they start with the original, then move to the adaptation…When I read the book first, I go to the movie expecting to see a strict translation of what I saw onto the screen, even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story…

http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2012/03/22/149145605/what-fans-will-love-and-what-they-might-not-in-the-hunger-games

“…even if that’s not truly what I want, or what best serves the story…”, the truth is those moments at the print shop need to be earned.  They need the context of knowing what has come before.  It will not be enough to segue way from Claire’s realizing Jamie might still be alive to her going back through the stones. Viewers will need to know what life was like in the in-between.  And, whether we want to admit it or not, we book readers will too.  Those moments at the print shop are meaningful and moving because of what happened in those twenty years apart and who Jamie and Claire were without their hearts.  They are starved for each other’s company and face the despair of knowing they will never again have the kind of mutual love they shared. They long for each other and when I read of their longing my heart aches for them.

Too many of us can relate to their need to go on living despite devastating loss.  In Claire’s case, she pushes forward for Bree and Jamie for Fergus, William, Jenny, Ian, and their children. They go on…they exist.  Diana lets the reader see that our beloved couple are never far from each other’s thoughts. She paints us a picture of two people who truly aren’t complete without the other.  Diana chose to tell Voyager in a mixture of present day with flashbacks to the past that slowly builds the suspense and intensity of emotion.  The search for evidence of Jamie’s survival is then followed by the reality of the Dun Bonnet’s real story and we see the names on the Ardsmuir roll sheet in the flesh.  We get glimpses of the deprived and lonely existence Jamie led.  We are then transported to the inner workings of Claire’s marriage of convenience.

We will need to see what life was like for Claire. I know this isn’t a popular idea for many fans because it means more Frank.  But, to ignore what life was like for Claire would not serve the story well and lessen the impact and meaning of the print shop reunion. These glimpses of life with Frank are sprinkled throughout the story, but it makes sense to me that the show will need to rearrange things and tell the story more chronologically. What was life like for Claire?  She made a promise and I believe truly tried to make it work with Frank.  She did love him, but what ever she feels for Frank pales in comparison to what she feels for Jamie. Frank believes they can make it work. He needs to make it work because he loves her, but her heart is irrevocably Jamie’s.  As a result, what started out straight and good and true becomes a twisted convoluted mess.

One of the few looks Diana affords us of Claire’s life with Frank comes from her remembrance of the night he died.  Not a very flattering portrayal that, but in his defense, what’s a man to do? What’s a man to do with 20 years of knowing your wife loves someone else?  When I think of that particular icy night, warped things come to mind; intentions, plans, relationships, and love.  You know what time and pressure do to a lump of coal, right?  A diamond.  Time and pressure left us no gems here.  What happens when feelings get suppressed? When time and pressure are applied to that suppression? Anger. Resentment.  Emotion doesn’t stay inside the skin.  Feelings can never be fully suppressed.  They find a way to come out and sometimes it’s sideways.

.Outlander Season 3

I think some sideways feelings got straightened out that night.

“...he looked like Bree, didn’t he?  He was like her?”

“Yes.”

He breathed heavily, almost a snort.

“I could see it in your face– when you’d look at her, I could see you thinking of him.  damn you Claire Beauchamp, ” he said, very softly.  “damn you and your face that can’t hide a thing you think or feel.”

“…I did love you, ” I said, softly, at last. “Once.”

They go on to discuss why he didn’t leave and Frank wonders out loud,

“...but you couldn’t see her (Bree) without thinking of him, could you?  Without that constant memory, I wonder__ would you have forgotten him, in time?”

“No.”….

Diana Gabaldon Voyager

The last straw had been reached for Frank, but it also served to let us see how impossible it has been for Claire to love anyone but Jamie and to live without him.  The show foreshadowed this with Breanna’s comments about her mother living in another world. She is present physically, but she left her heart in another time, another place. She is living a life she no longer wants, but tries for Bree’s sake.

The story will be best served by the show showing us how empty and difficult their lives were without the other. So, when the ‘voyage’ finally leads us back to the print shop, as viewers, we will be entirely invested in the reunion of these two lost souls.

The reuniting of these two characters gives birth to some of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever read. Claire’s trip to the printer’s shop is full of those scenes.  Her nervous look at her reflection in the shop window, his fainting dead away at her sudden appearance, their holding each other both trembling with,”…longing of twenty years streaming down our faces”.  They touch each other’s features in wonder. I believe I could barely breathe when I read this scene.  The intensity of their need of each other was palpable.  Not the intensity of lust, but of need. And the scene where Claire shows Jamie Bree’s pictures?  My favorite. When he turns and ‘falls to pieces” in her arms, I couldn’t help but think he had been needing to fall apart for twenty years, but her arms were the only place he could do that…be himself…without fear. And for Claire, loving and being loved by Jamie was like  “the turn of a great key, each small turn setting into play the intricate fall of tumblers within me.”

Lord knows, the sailing will never be smooth for these two, but at last they will be together and nothing else will matter.

“…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”.  And she replies, “ It was lonely without you, ” I whispered,” so lonely.”

Yeah,…we need to see the years without their hearts.

 

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I promised him I would let him go…Outlander episode 2.1

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by Beth Wesson

 

The past two weeks have seen an absolute glut of Outlander related news, articles, interviews, and images.  Which is soooo different from last season.  Back then we scoured the internet for anything about “our” show and anxiously read what few articles there were, hoping that critics and reviewers liked the series.  We dreamed that the world would find out about the wonderfulness that is Outlander.  It took awhile, but what we hoped would happen did happen.  In fact, there is so much Outlander stuff out here right now that I feel slightly overwhelmed!

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The articles I’ve been reading this time around have been absolutely delightful.   They have been meaty, insightful, and VERY complimentary.  For the first time, I feel like the critics “get it”.  And, the outlets that are sitting up, taking notice, and writing about it are getting larger and more numerable.  I’d feel a little sad about the competition for readers except…THERE IS A COMPETITION FOR READERS!  It is everything we fans had hoped would happen for our beloved books and show.  They are getting the attention they deserve.  Despite the “Scotland’s answer to GOT”, “fifty shades of plaid”, “bodice-ripper’ labels  given to the show, people tuned in and …got hooked

When I went to bed after watching the Television Academy’s From Scotland to Paris: A Behind the Scenes Journey with Outlander, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo0aWxwY2EA I dreamily fell asleep convinced that I had just witnessed something very special. The astonishing level of creativity, skill and …love demonstrated by all involved in the creation of this show was so evident that as a fan I felt proud and strangely emotional. So, after reading all the positive reviews, watching all the insightful interviews, and being gob smacked by the panel, I thought I was prepared to watch the premiere.

I wasn’t.

I’m sitting here trying to find words.  Searching for words that have even the slightest chance of expressing how I felt about this episode.  I’m not entirely confident that I can, but I’m going to give it a shot.

THERE’S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

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I’ve always believed that no matter how great a movie or show is, if it is based on a book, the book is always better.  It makes sense.  An author has time and room to give us the details and let us see into what makes a character tick.  I have never seen anything that has caused me to doubt that belief…until now.

Just this week, I wrote an article for Outlander Online  http://wp.me/p57847-jFr that wondered how the beginning of the book would be handled.  How would the audience be told that Claire had returned?  I was concerned because despite our frustration (and downright pissed off at DGness), the fans I’ve talked with thought her opening with Claire in the 1960’s was powerfully discombobulating and kept us wanting to turn the page. As much as I admire Diana’s skills as a writer and adore her books, the TV adaptation told the story of Claire’s return to Frank better. This was so much more powerful and I can totally get why they did it.

As a reader of Diana Gabaldon’s books, I am as fascinated with what she doesn’t write, as much as with what she does.  What I’m trying to express is the idea that sometimes a writer doesn’t give us all the details and lets us try to figure out a characters’ motivation. Like a good author does.  It is often what is not explicitly explained that keeps us all talking about the books, speculating and theorizing. Ron and his writers have the enviable and monumental task of adapting Diana’s books into a visual medium.  They have explained that each episode has a story arc and that to tell the best story sometimes things have to be changed.  I finally get it.

 

HOW THEY TOLD THE STORY DIFFERENTLY, BUT STILL KEPT IT PLAUSIBLE

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I’ve often said that the most controversial character in the book series isn’t Black Jack Randall, or Gellis, St.Germaine, or any other villian.  It’s Frank. Drop Frank’s name into a discussion of Outlander and watch the sparks fly. He is loved, pitied, and hated. But understood?  We have all wondered what Frank felt and thought, why he and Claire decided to stay together, why he got over his belief he couldn’t raise another man’s child, and if he still loved Claire or if he was just doing what he saw as his duty (cuz he’s not a cad). Did he believe her? Ron chose to answer some of those questions in his adaptation and I think the story is the more powerful for it.

  • THEY SHADOWED IT FROM THE BEGINNING

In the very first episode, we saw Frank accept the possibility of Claire being unfaithful. “It wouldn’t be unheard of. Understandable…comfort”.  And, we saw Claire’s indignation over the idea that he would think she could ever be unfaithful,.  “There is nothing you could do to make me stop loving you.”  They foreshadowed his acceptance of the child with Frank’s interest in his own genealogy and their renewed attempts to start a family and then there is… Jamie’s ghost.

  • THEY LET US SEE FRANK WORK THINGS OUT BEFORE OUR EYES

In the books, we never get to see or really know what Frank did when Claire disappeared or how he felt about losing her.  As readers, we became so engrossed in Jamie and Claire’s relationship that we soon forgot about poor Frank.  Diana has revealed more and more about Frank as her series of books has continued, but she is still keeping what Frank really knew and what he felt a bit of a mystery.  In my opinion, what Ron has done is very plausible and not a large departure from the Frank in the books.  Let’s look at the how it went down:

  • Frank does come to Claire after she has been missing for almost three years
  • he is told outside of our hearing that she is starved and pregnant
  • she tells him to leave and that she loves another man
  • she explains what happens and Frank gets angry over her explanation of being carried through the stones
  • he doesn’t leave and agrees to raise her child as his own
  • he moves them away for a fresh start

In the TV series, it happens a little differently, but the pieces are all there. Frank hears her story and although it is a “leap of faith” agrees to “accept’ it.  Knowing Frank, Claire doesn’t buy it and calls him out. He acknowledges that although he doesn’t understand her feelings for this other man, he believes her when she says she loved Jamie. But, he is now, he is there, Jamie is not. He only cares that she is back.  She then tells him she is pregnant and this is the catalyst that triggers his anger instead of when the anger is triggered in the books.  He still had a last straw moment.  She hit him where it hurt the most. Different yes, but, maybe better? Certainly, watching his joy and then devastation when he realized it was a mirage was powerful and echoed back to Wentworth and Jamie thinking he saw Claire and then realizing it was all an illusion. The pain and loss was real.

  • THEY LET US SEE CLAIRE’S STRUGGLE AND JAMIE’S GHOST

Claire’s voice-over set the tone for the episode.  If she could have died she would have. Her anguished screams and sobs let the audience know she has been ripped from Jamie’s side and all is lost. And, then we see Frank… hardly able to contain himself as he rushes into the hospital.

Diana has told her readers to remember that we see things from Claire’s perspective and that Claire has her own self-serving reasons for wanting to believe the worst of Frank. She needs to keep him at a distance, she has a need to feel loyal to Jamie her true love and yet, she loved Frank. I saw that struggle tonight.  Her guilt over what she had done to Frank. Frank’s points about her ring and how her story confirmed that she would never have willingly left him rang true and you could see Claire flinch in the face of it.  She grieves for her lost love and yet, as everyone reminds her he is a ghost. So, when Frank offers up his conditions she remembers her promise and in a last self-sacrificing gesture of love for Jamie she stiffens her spine, lifts her head and  lets him go.

The many symbolic gestures in this episode like the hands transitioning her past and her future, her reluctant hug so like the one Jamie gave her in the Abby, were wonderful. Everything reminded me of something that happened in season 1.  Jamie’s memory, his ghost if you will, continues to wander the streets of Inverness.

  • THEY KEPT IT REAL

I had the opportunity to use the books in a literature class.  The one thing that bothered my students the most about Claire returning to the future to live with Frank was how she could possibly ever look at Frank and not see Black Jack.  I had to agree that knowing that Frank isn’t Jack and that he is not responsible for his ancestor’s behavior might not be enough. I was glad to see the TV series addressed this issue right out of the box.  What I saw in episode one, maybe in part because it IS a visual representation of the story, felt more real to me; more believable.

  • ALL OF IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED

It might not have played out on the screen exactly as it did in the books, but it could have.  The show deliberately connected the dots and fleshed out Frank’s character.  I think it was a smart move.  It all makes more sense, especially for viewers who haven’t and won’t read the books.  This treatment, in my opinion, makes all of their choices more poignant, more honest, and more powerful.  For the first time, I understood Frank and their decision to stay together and why they both did what they did.  I felt his hope (yet, you still wear my ring) and her painful resignation (I promised him I would let him go).

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Kudos to Caitroina Balfe and Tobias Menzies.  Emmy worthy performances right out of the gate. Kudos to Tallship Productions and Starz you’re keeping your word to the fans and …I can’t believe I’m saying this…making a great story better.

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie and Claire Fraser…Courtiers

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Soon, (a relative term) Outlander fans will be making a weekly appointment with Starz to watch their favorite couple Jamie and Claire Frazer navigate the salons, ballrooms, and dining rooms of the French Court of Louis the XV. The picture Starz painted of the Frasers’ new life in the first Season 2 trailer was visually far and away from muted and earthy Scotland.  Being a curious soul, I found myself wanting to know more about life in Versailles.

The story goes that Louis’ great grandfather, Louis the XIV, worked for thirty years to make the palace opulent as recompense for a childhood of relative poverty (it’s said he slept on tattered sheets and his mother had to pawn the crown jewels).   Versailles was literally built around an old hunting cabin and eventually was half-a-million square feet, had 700 rooms , 67 staircases. and 6000 paintings.  No surface was left unadorned. Gilded paneling, crown molding, brocaded or flocked wall coverings, allegorical paintings of Greek gods, floors patterned with parquet or colored tiles were found in every room.  Everything from furniture to finishes was embellished. It was a visual feast.

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Louis the XV was said to be a bit less into the pomp and ceremony his great grandfather seemed to enjoy, but still, on a daily basis anywhere from 3,000 to 10, 000 people were in attendance at the palace.  In an effort to gain control over the nobility, the King often required them to live with him.  Attending the King took them far from the daily operations of their estates and put them under his watchful eye.

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A courtier is defined as a person who is often in attendance at the court of a king or other royal personage or a person who seeks favor by flattery, charm, etc.   This certainly described life for the courtiers of Louis the XV. Currying the king’s favor was serious and tricky, courtiers needed to tread carefully because the King could make them or break them. Nobles needed his permission to do basically anything, so remaining in his good graces was vital. 

…a very varied society with a rigid hierarchy. Some were there by birthright, others by social obligation, others out of self-interest or curiosity, and others still to earn their living. The high-ranking nobility were often present, currying the favours of the master of Versailles.

…Among the courtiers, those who held a role were said to be “established” at Court. These roles, either inherited or purchased, often very dearly, corresponded to a function or office.

… Living quarters in the palace were also highly sought after. They avoided much travelling back and forth and provided a place of retreat for those moments when one was not at Court.

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/?option=com_cdvfiche&idf=D49E0D38-2622-D151-2217-6E71CAB84BE0

 

To stay in a state of royal grace required being up on the latest rumors and news. Information was power and the court was where everything was happening, kind of like the Outlander fandom x1000. #KingSam and #QueenCait  These folks lived by a very strict code of etiquette and adherence to the Monarch’s whims. Whether it be it how to sit properly, knowing the latest dance steps or wearing the latest fashions,  being a courtier was serious business and a serious competition. With so many in attendance gaining the King’s attention was no easy task.

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“beauty or wit, rivaled with dazzling finery to attract the Monarch’s attention.”

Hence, the need, as  Outlander’s costume designer, Terry Dresbach says, for everyone to look like “a butterfly”.  Enter Jamie and Claire, a tall red-headed Scots decked out with plaid and his English rose dressed in a blood red gown. You just know that Terry and her crew will have created a dress worthy of the King’s attention!

There is a lot more to know about this world and I’ll be writing these little tidbits to help satisfy my curiosity and maybe enriching my watching experience.  Hope you’ll join me as I explore!

 

 

 

 

Claire’s birthday!

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#sassenachbday

My Outlander Blog!

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It’s Claire’ s birthday….huh…. What would a birthday celebration for Claire be like? Hmmmm…giving this some thought.  Let me set the scene.

The setting: Gotta be Frasers Ridge in the big house. I’d have them celebrate there because I think that’s where she was happiest.  This is where she built a life and home with her love.

The decorations: I picture the table set with a homespun cloth, candles and a crock full of the posey Jamie has picked from the fall colors found in their woods. No poison ivy this time <g>.

The food: I see the birthday cake is walnut layer with blackberry jam filling. Dinner is a beautiful roast turkey that Brianna shot and samples of the plenty Claire has stored in the pantry. The room is full of the delicious aroma of brewing coffee and the firelight makes the glass whiskey decanter glow.

The guests:  They…

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Claire makes me proud I’m a woman…a reflection.

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Sometimes when I write, the ideas come quick and demand to be written immediately. Sometimes ideas need to simmer like good soup. I’ve already written quite a bit about Claire and I wondered if there was anything more I could say. The question, “Why is Claire important to me?” kept simmering in my mind. Soon, as it often happens, the answer to my writer’s question began to form through the colliding of seemingly insignificant events and knowledge.

The world very recently celebrated International Woman’s Day. Busy with my grandchildren, I sort of missed it. Two days later, I was given a picture of myself hugging my oldest granddaughter and it kick started my thinking about women and my role in womanhood. Of course, I blogged about it.

https://bethwesson.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/when-you-are-a…-is-womans-day/

My granddaughter laughingly said,” I feel like I’m reading a history lesson about civil rights!” In a way she was. I wrote about how each generation of women has helped to create the wonder that is my granddaughter.

Writing that article helped me answer part of my question. Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a wonderful example of the women who have gone before and paved the way. She is a wonderful example of women who had the courage to break out of gender-based roles and show the world women could be strong. She shows us that women can be all things; strong, kind, tough, gentle, smart, and intuitive.

The second half of my question was answered while writing an article about laughing at life. I was thinking of events both good and bad that have happened in my life and wondered if there was anything I would change if I could. I always come to the same conclusion…No… because I don’t know how those events shaped the woman I became. I wonder if Claire would come to the same conclusion?

We all bring our experiences with us when we read and I brought the story of Corrie Ten Boom with me when I read Claire’s story. Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian spinster, who saved many Jews from the concentration camps and then was interned for her actions.  She lost many family members to the camps including her beloved father and sister. She survived and then spent the rest of her life travelling the world telling her story of how there was no pit so deep that God was not deeper still. Corrie carried with her a bit of needlework to use as a visual representation of how life works. She would first show people the underside of the needlework.  They would see nothing, but a mess of different colored thread crossed and knotted. If they looked very closely they might be able to see a pattern, but it wouldn’t be clear. Corrie would then say that is because we can only see the underside of life and we don’t know why certain threads are used or how. The dark threads she points out might be as important as the light. She would then turn the cloth over to reveal a beautiful crown.  So, when I read Claire’s story I thought of Corrie’s crown. No one could accuse Claire of having lived a soft life.  She lost her parents at a tender age and spent her formative years travelling in third world environs. I believe these seemingly “dark threads” helped to form Claire’s coping skills, attitudes and values.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a good example of how to learn from all of the experiences of your life. Her experiences served her well.  She learned how to handle whatever life threw her.  She learned what is worth spending your energy on and what isn’t. She learned valuable lessons about what is truly important in this life and her exposure to different people and cultures helped her know herself which in turn helped her gain a heart for people.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she shows us a woman can persevere and adapt. Over and over again we are able to read of Claire adapting to change and unexpected situations. She may express concern, dismay or even grief, but she always picks herself up, dusts herself off and finds a way.  She always finds a way to make the best life for herself with dignity and often with humor. I have always admired her ability to laugh at the ironies of life.

I can’t think of an example when Claire was a willing participant in any kind of malicious gossip or intentional hurtful behavior toward another woman or anyone for that matter. Oh, there were people she didn’t care to spend time with, but even that choice was never spiteful.  Claire has just learned it is best to avoid poison people and situations if you can.  She doesn’t dwell on people whose values and views don’t match hers. If she doesn’t want to cover her head, she doesn’t. If she wants to spend her time healing the sick, she will. Why is Claire important to me? Because she shows us that it is possible to live without the approval of other women or men.  She doesn’t need others to validate her or her choices.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she stands up for what she believes is right. How many times throughout the story do we see Claire ride or walk or crawl for that matter to right injustice, many times at her own peril and to Jamie’s frustration.  We see her leave her husband to care for a ship full of plague, fight to stop the slaughter at Culloden and even offer her daughter the option of an abortion.  However, on the other hand, she does not easily take offense, is tolerant of other’s beliefs and does not need to always be right. She picks her battles and doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a wonderful example of a woman who knows what is really important in life. Claire knows that in the end it is all about relationships and people. I credit her experiences of travelling the world and having few possessions for teaching her this lesson that so many folks come to realize late, if ever. I never read of Claire being worried about possessions, or fashions, or money, or position. She is not motivated by greed or political gain.  If they have enough food, clothing and shelter, Claire is happy.  It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy nice things; she does, but, she doesn’t need them. It is very telling of her worth that the “things” she does treasure are never her own purchases, but rather gifts like the Indian amulet and her medicine chest.

And finally, Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a woman who knows her own worth and mind. Claire doesn’t bother with false modesty.  She knows what she is good at and uses those gifts and abilities to help others. Conversely, she knows what she isn’t good at and circumvents her weaknesses. One of things I most admire about Claire is her lack of guile and her unwillingness to lie to herself.  Time and time again, we see her take ownership of her thoughts and feelings even when she doesn’t like what she is thinking or feeling.  There is real power there. It is difficult to be manipulated when you own your “stuff”.

For all these reasons and more, Claire is a woman to be admired and emulated. Truly, I could point to her as a proud example of womanhood. I believe Claire’s example of what it means to be a good and proud woman will stand the test of time.  She represents the epitome of what it means to be a woman of worth and substance. Claire makes me proud I’m a woman.

Choices…..Jamie and Claire…Outlander returns April 4th.

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Claire-and-Jamie-Fraser-claire-and-jamie-fraser-37427982-681-1024Okay… just saw the trailer looking ahead  for the second half of the season. Lots of exciting stuff coming up! The word “CHOICE” is what I’m left with after considering what they’ve shown us. The choices Jamie makes. The choices Claire makes. Monumental. Pivotal. Heart and gut wrenching. Diana says she reveals who her characters really are by putting them under pressure. We learn a lot about Jamie and Claire through the pressure they are under in the second half of season 1 and that knowledge will color everything we know about them from now until the end of all of the series to come. (may there be many)

Jamie’s choice:

Jamie chooses to rescue Claire. Even though it means going back to a place full of devastating emotional significance, at the possible cost of his own life.  There is never any doubt in his mind that Black Jack will kill him if he’s caught and there is never any doubt that he will go after Claire despite this knowledge, even though he believes she left him on purpose and that she may indeed be an English spy. We finally begin to see what kind of stuff this man is made of.

Jamie chooses to let Claire go. What this choice reveals about him is nothing short of staggering. This is a man of integrity. Everything he feels tells him to beg her to stay, but he chooses to let her go…why?

He now knows the truth and it cannot be ignored. There is a man…a husband … with a prior claim. Claire is the wife of another man and as a man of that honors these vows spoken between two people, he must acknowledge Frank’s claim on Claire. She isn’t his wife because she is still wed to another.
He must acknowledge that Claire doesn’t belong here. Her being here and with him is an unfortunate accident. She had no choice. She did what she needed to do to survive. And, after the witch trail , he knows she is a women out of her time and it will place her in danger again. She will be safer if she goes.  He knows she has tried to get back to her husband and life over and over again. He will not add himself and his need of her to keep her in a life that was not of her choosing.

I know I cried at every agonizing staggering step he took down that hill; my heart was breaking with his.

Claire’s choice:

She finally knows where she is and it’s near the standing stones.  She can finally attempt to go back home.  She makes the choice to leave the 18th century and…Jamie.  She knows he will be hurt, but believes after a time he will move on.  She feels guilty and I think even then an inkling that she feels more than sad to leave him.

Then comes Fort William and her daring rescue from the clutches of Black Jack Randall. The time that follows is filled with conflict between Jamie and Claire. These conflicts give rise to confusion for Claire.  What does she really feel for Jamie?  I’ve heard Caitrionia Balfe say that, “Claire has to get honest with herself and Jamie.” I was glad to hear that. Otherwise, the scene at the standing stones later would not have the emotional impact needed for the audience to believe her choice was tearing her apart.

And that choice. I was really truly worried about her decision. I’m hoping the viewers of Outlander on Starz will feel the same anxiety.

Once the big choice is made:

There are still many choices left after Craig Na Dun. I can remember thinking, when I first read, that their getting on the horse to go to Lallybroch seemed like a logical place to end the book. And, it would have been if Diana had only been writing a romance. But, in a very real way the choice at the stones was the beginning not the end.  Because,… Ms. Gabaldon was writing a love story.  Thank God!

From the moment Claire walks away from the stones and her feet pick up speed down the hill to the abandoned cottage, we start to see the results of her choice.  We are then treated to the beginning of a story about a passionately committed couple and their life together. That life continues to be full of struggles and choices; can anyone say Wentworth? But, there is never any doubt that they are together because they want to be…need to be.

Claire can’t “bloody well” live without the man and neither can we.

Bring on April 4th!

SPOILERS: Dragonfy in Amber….the connection between Roger and Claire

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*I’ve been reading all the news of Richard Rankin being cast as Roger.  I knew @ConnieBV would be writing for ScotlandNow and I couldn’t wait to read what I knew would be her latest wonderful blend of humor and insight.  I wasn’t disappointed. It was great! I am always amazed by how much we think alike despite our very different writing styles.  She talked about Roger being the male version of Claire and I was nodding my head in agreement and knew that I had written something about that idea myself.  I did!  When I found it I realized that I had written this piece almost exactly a year ago and it not only talked about the Claire and Roger connection, but it was a wonderful little time-capsule.  What were we doing and thinking about a year ago in the fandom? It’s right here!

 

 

We know that folks working on Outlander Starz are taking a well deserved break.  Some of the folks are continuing to tweet to fans during their hiatus.  So, fans still know a bit about what is going on in their lives.  Matt is still taking pictures, Maril made it back home to the great Northwest, Terry is missing her puppy, but catching up on all the good stuff home offers and her other half Ron has been tweeting his score cards from the Giants bid for the World Series.  Cait sent us a lovely picture of her meeting with the folks running the children’s cancer charity she supports and Sam…well … he tweeted a short video of him throwing one very lucky girl into an LA swimming pool!

While they are all on vacay mode the fans have been trying to figure out what to do during the months between now and April.  I’ve seen some pretty interesting lists.  Some are funny and some quite serious.  Pretty sure the Outlander knitters will be creating enough cowls and arm warmers to supply a small army of wool waulkers!  There are contests, read-alongs and memes full of pick-up lines.

All of this industry got me thinking about DIA  and the fact that the fans will most probably get to do this whole thing again!  Soon everyone will be back at work, casting, writing, costuming and acting. Remember all the cast watches?  We are going to get to see Brianna, Roger, Master Raymond! We are going to see Claire and Jamie navigate the politics at the French court and meet Louis and Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Terry will be designing costumes with a whole different culture in mind!  We’ll be getting some behind the scenes goodies! Again!

Roger and Bree.  They are not Jamie and Claire and yet….what a great couple. We know that Bree definitely inherited her father’s looks and some of his personality traits.  Claire often comments that she recognizes the look of a Fraser on the edge of an explosion in Bree’s countenance. Roger was absolutely gobsmacked when he saw Jamie Fraser for the first time. Bree’s resemblance to her father was more than obvious. It had to feel a bit strange to be married to the feminine version of THAT man.

I’ve been known to claim that both of my children married versions of their mother.  I see my ability to deal with their father in how my children’s spouses deal with their versions of my husband.  Seriously, I wonder if I was even there sometimes! Mighty strong genes on that side of the family.  It sort of makes sense, if their dad was attracted to me and they are VERY much like him, then they might be attracted to someone with similar personality traits.  Maybe Bree was attracted to Roger for the same reasons.

From the very beginning, I saw a connection between Roger and Claire. Roger seemed to be able to “read” Claire. He noticed subtle body language and facial cues.  He heard something in her voice that belied her voiced  feelings. He recognized “who” she was as a person. He seemed to understand her.  Likewise, she seemed to recognize a kindred spirit in Roger.  Roger is the first to believe her tale of time travel and her Highlander husband Jamie.

Maybe he gets her because he’s a lot like her. They both grew up orphans who were raised by single eccentric men. Like Claire, he doesn’t seem to be concerned with possessions or power. They seem to focus on the really important things in life.  They are both honorable and loyal people. Claire is a kind woman who cares for the people around her. Roger is a kind man who cares for the people around him. He is strong when he needs to be and doesn’t sweat the small stuff, just like Claire.  They both live their lives without need for artifice. They both seem to have the ability to see through to the truth in matters. In fact, in one of the later scenes Claire comments that she knows very few truthful people. She names Roger as one of them.

Several times we read of Roger watching the interaction between Claire and Jamie.  He seems to be fascinated by their relationship and I often wondered if it was because of Bree’s resemblance to her father. Maybe he was watching to see how dealing with a Fraser is done!  Bree is a woman with strong skills, personality and will. She is a modern woman who knows she can take care of herself.  I’m pretty sure she would have run rough-shod over most men or scared them away. But, not Roger, I have always admired him for knowing she wasn’t going to be easy and loving that about her. He was up to the challenge of a woman who knows she’s your equal. and he wouldn’t want it any other way.  Roger is as all men should be.

Like Claire, Roger is principled to a fault and could have probably saved himself a lot of trouble if he had been a bit less honorable, but he is honorable and like Claire honest with himself.  He takes ownership of his thoughts and feelings.  His goodness runs deep and he isn’t afraid to make the tough choices.  Bree, like her father, knows she has found that one thing we all hope for, someone who loves us as much as we love them.  What we see in the couple is a passionate mutually committed relationship….Roger and his Bree like Jamie and his Claire.