Jamie and Claire Fraser…Courtiers

Standard

download (1)

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.

paris-108

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.

Louis_XV_by_Maurice-Quentin_de_La_Tour

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.

images

“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!

Standard

#sassenachbday

My Outlander Blog!

image
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…

View original post 199 more words

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

Standard

Sometimes when I write, the ideas come quick and demand to be written immediately. Sometimes ideas need to simmer like a 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 traveling 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 traveling 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 an 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 traveling 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 the 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, a representation 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.

Standard

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

Standard

image

*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.

Claire’s birthday!

Standard

image
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 are all there, those Claire loves; Jamie, Brianna, Roger, Jem and Mandy, Ian and Rollo, Fergus, Marsali and their brood, Lizzy and the twins and the Buggs. Rollo is lying before the hearth and Adso is winding his way through legs and chairs.  I see Jamie, wearing his good shirt, has plaited his hair and Ian’s shock of brown hair looks mysteriously slicked down.  The children’s faces have the rosy gleam of freshly washed cheeks and are ringed with smiles.

The gifts:  The ever practical Claire is thrilled with some new equipment for the surgery that Jamie asked Lord John to procure.  She gets emotional over a sketch Bree did of her healing hands. Jamie wraps his arms around her waist and kisses her neck while she fusses over the pretty rocks the children have given her.

Roger leads them all in a round of the birthday song. They talk and laugh and play and celebrate the day. And…at the end when everyone has gone to their own homes, Jamie takes Claire to their bed where they talk of all the bountiful blessings God has seen fit to give them, especially the gift of each other.

Happy Birthday Claire!

Frank and Claire, soul mates …..Episode 8

Standard

imageI couldn’t watch it through a second time.  I shut it off. I thought perhaps sleep would help my perspective. It has cooled my ire enough to write. I really wasn’t sure I would write anything about this episode because I felt too conflicted, too….angry.

First, let me say that if I DIDN’T know the rest of the story,  I’d think this was a great episode.  Lots of action and conflict for our heroine Claire. Beautifully acted. Beautifully filmed. But, I do know the rest of the story and this isn’t taking me there.

So, what is the big problem…Jamie…again.  Who is supposed to be Claire’s soul-mate?  Jamie or Frank? I understand Ron Moore wanted Claire’s decision to feel real, so he decided to put more about Frank into the story.  I was all for that decision, until now.  Once again I ask, “where’s Jamie?”.

In my humble opinion, as a reader and viewer, Both Sides Now should have been One Fine Day. I understand this is an adaptation and I know things must be changed and somethings left out.  However, I’m pretty sure what should not be left out is the growth in Jamie and Claire’s relationship.  Of all the wonderful tender and revealing moments that happened  the couple of days following the wedding we get “hoor-rocks”? I understand that it advanced the story…Jamie needed to leave Claire for the chance to change their future.  I get that….great.  But, why so much Frank and so little Jamie and Claire?  One of reasons I was so excited that this was a 16 episode series was that their would be time as Mr. Moore said to keep,” all the things people love about these books”.  The main thing I love about these books is the relationship between Jamie and Claire.

And my favorite lines….. “Does the wanting ever stop” was changed from awed and tender wonder to when will I stop being horny? Arrgh! Maybe my love for the books has made it impossible for me to enjoy this show?  As my husband was kind enough to point out this morning, ” You knew this was going to happen why are you surprised? The movie can never be as good as the book”…… Yeah….I know that….

The feeling is mutual….the rare love between Jamie and Claire.

Standard

imageAs a lot of you already know, I had a rough week. I’ve been in the hospital with a bilateral pulmonary embolism.  I’m on the mend and told I’m pretty lucky to be here. I am feeling pretty lucky, but I’ve also been here five days and I’m feeling pretty bored too. I’ve got a lot of time and that leads me to think and …that leads me to write.

Yesterday, it was announced that Outlander had received the go ahead for a second season. This was very exciting news and it started me thinking about what the viewers were going to see next season.  I thought of Claire’s decision and where that will lead them. I thought of the adventure and heart-break they will be facing. But, mostly… I thought of them, Jamie and Claire. I thought of their relationship and the depth of their love for one another.  I know I bristle at the idea that the series is a romance, but the truth of the matter is that the story is anchored by the love between these two people.

At Comic-Con this year, Diana was asked if Jamie and Claire’s relationship reflected her own parents’ relationship ( I’m thinking this sounds like a story I would like to read).  She responded that everything a writer experiences is some how reflected in their work. She shared that her parents were her first example of a passionate committed relationship and that she was lucky enough to find one of her own.  She then went on to remind me of one of the main reasons I love these books.  I love these books because they are about people who stay in love.

To me there is a difference between falling in love and being in love. In my opinion, so much of what we see, hear and read today is about the falling part. The media is currently all a buzz about the show’s “slow burn” build up to Jamie and Claire’s falling in love.  Falling in love is exhilarating! The emotions that are stirred leave us feeling special and as if we have found the meaning of life! Overall, a great experience.  But, as we all know, this feeling must mature and ripen if it is to last. Being “in love” is that more permanent state of being.  Jamie and Claire falling in love is exhilarating, but the maturing of their love is intoxicating and inspiring. Believe me folks the best is yet to come.  Their love spans impossibilities, heart-break, centuries and even time. Their love and attraction for one another is passionate, committed and mutual. Their lives are never easy, but their love never fails. This mutual love is rare and few of us are ever lucky enough to find it.

Once again, I am in awe of Diana Gabaldon’s innate ability to craft a story.  She juxtaposes the love between Claire and Frank and Claire and Jamie.  Brilliantly, this comparison doesn’t point out the flaws in Claire and Frank’s relationship. No, Diana is much more subtle than that, she shows us a loving relationship. Claire loves Frank. Frank loves Claire. What her juxtaposition does show us is the difference between great and something …more.

I’ve been reading and watching some of the interviews of the cast.  Several of the questions being posed are about Jamie and Claire’s relationship.  I’m thinking the actors get it and that makes me so happy.  I’ve heard them say things like;”I think they recognize a kindred soul”.  This is what I think about when I think of Jamie and Claire.  Maybe more than kindred souls, I think of the idea of soul-mates. I hesitate to use those two words because I fear they have become cliche.  But, I do believe they are connected on the level of the soul.  One is not complete, not whole, not themselves without the other.

I’m not sure I could pin-point a particular scene or line of dialogue to prove my point. I’m not sure I have my own words to express the rarity and difference in their love, but I recognize it when I see it and Diana lets me feel it.  I think that the books and the relationship is all the more fascinating because of this intangibility.  For Jamie, and Claire for that matter, the difference is often found in the intimacy of each other’s arms. Early in their relationship Jamie recognizes there is something different when he asks;

“….What I mean to ask is, is this…usual? What it is between us when I touch you, when you…lie with me? Is it always so between a man and woman?”

Claire, as baffled as he is, admits that what they have seems different.

They seem to wholly own one another.  They later recognize that it is a bit frightening to know that any one person could hold this much power over you.  “It seems I cannot master your soul without losing my own”.  Before you start thinking that this sounds a bit unhealthy, let me reassure you that they never lose their own identity in this relationship.  In fact, there is a mutual admiration club going on here. I don’t think they _ever_ fail to appreciate who they are separately and the books are full of examples of them supporting and encouraging each other’s interests and endeavors. They are always foremost concerned for the other’s happiness and well-being.  Do they argue? Yes. Do they drive each other crazy, at times? Yes.  Are they fulfilled by their relationship…yes.

I don’t want to spoil things for those new to the books and TV series, so I won’t spoil it by telling details about Jamie and Claire’s future. What I will say is that I’m hoping the show will get a chance to show how truly remarkable and rare is the love between these two people.

A woman we should care about….Claire

Standard

If you are like me, you’ve been watching the Starz channel for possible glimpses of Outlander. The tease definitely was and the disappearance trailer gave me goosebumps!  I’ve been searching for every image I can find. The sheer beauty of the costumes and scenery of the down-under clip left me speechless (and inspired to play it over and over). But, the trailer that I can’t stop thinking about is the one where the cast is commenting. The lines that keep running through my head are spoken by our beloved Ron Moore, “we are going to try to make you believe this really happened to this woman…This is a character you should care about…”

I’m loving the direction he is taking. Despite all the focus we fans tend to place on the sheer magnificence that is Jamie, Ron recognizes that this has always been Claire’s story. Her story to tell. He wisely asks us to come along and watch Claire make sense of the unimaginable. In that clip alone, Cait Balfe made me feel Claire’s resolve and anxiety as she adjusts her unfamiliar 18th century clothing, stiffens her spine , raises her head and “fakes it till she makes it” down the hall. I’m seeing the pragmatic, strong woman I loved in the books. As readers, we saw everything through Claire’s eyes, heard her thoughts and experienced her feelings and I am thrilled that Starz has decided to let us do the same. As a result, I believe the viewers will care about Claire because they’ll discover she is a woman worth caring about.

We can put ourselves in Claire’s place:

We may not have recently fallen through some standing stones, but I’ll bet we’ve all found ourselves strangers in a strange land at some point in our lives. People will care about Claire because on some level they will sympathize with her struggles.  She is a woman alone trying to figure out how to survive without a rule book. There aren’t many of us who have not had to navigate our way in a new job, new place, or establish relationships with strangers. Viewers will know how Claire feels because we’ve all been there 18th century or not. They’ll admire Claire for her tenacity, pragmatism, and strength. They’ll feel sorry for her because she is a modern woman forced into a submissive role and that won’t sit well with Claire or the viewer.

Her love story:

She is a war bride. Many viewers will care about Claire because they know what it feels like to be separated from the person you love. They’ll understand the joy of her second honeymoon with Frank and feel the devastation of her losing him so soon after their long wait to be together. Viewers will admire Claire for her devotion to Frank and her determination to return to him. But, …what about Jamie? The viewers will struggle with Claire as she tries to not fall in love with him. It’s a battle they’ll both lose. What’s a woman to do?… The viewer will want to see how she’ll deal with her forced intimacy with Jamie and her eventual capitulation. Claire becomes a woman in love with two good men. Many viewers will be able to relate.  And, the sex?  Claire is a sexually confident woman and thank God Starz won’t shy away from some of the best sex scenes ever written.

She’s real:

Claire is a woman with strengths and weaknesses just like us. Readers can tell you why they admire her and some can tell you why she makes them crazy. But, most agree that she is genuine.

I believe the characteristic I most admire about Claire is her lack of guile. She’s a terrible liar. Everything she feels shows on her face. She isn’t motivated by greed, or fame, or political gain. She is just as she appears to be and what she appears to be is a kind woman who cares about the people around her. She is a good person. In a t.v. (and real-world) full of characters with ambiguous moral character, I think viewers will be ready to root for a character with a redeeming character. <g>

We’d like to be like her:

Viewers will care about Claire because they will recognize she is a woman to be admired and emulated. I recently asked some Caitriots (Caitriona Balfe fan club) to tell me what they liked and disliked about Claire.   I received a lot of responses and I noticed that most of the responses fell into particular categories, like ….

Claire’s passion; a two-edged sword:  The viewers of Outlander Starz will find plenty of reasons to admire Claire for her passion.  If she believes in something she has no problem commiting.  She blazes ahead and jumps in with both feet, often…to the detriment of herself and others. This impetuous-ness seems to be the thing readers most admire about her and yet, it drives them nuts.

She’s smart:  The Caitriots found lots to admire about Claire’s intellect.  They used words like; ingenious, clever, adaptable, and resourceful.

Her personality:  It was noted that Claire could be stoic when she needed to be, but most times she uses humor to help her cope.  Claire can laugh at herself and life. She is witty and at times scarcastic, but never mean.  She just knows life is easier to swallow when you can see the humor in situations. We could all learn from Claire’s ability to laugh.

Her bravery: One of the most frequently cited of Claire’s admirable qualities was her bravery.  Readers noted that no matter how scared she was Claire felt the fear and did it anyway. They said that she was a loyal and responsible person and that she had the courage to make difficult or unpopular decisions.  They also laughingly noted that she doesn’t back down from anyone, “she doesn’t take anybody’s crap”.

Dichotomy: Claire doesn’t seem to fit the mold for women in either the 18th century or her own time. She is unapologetically unique.  She is strong and yet vulnerable.  She takes on traditional male roles and yet remains wholly feminine.  She is strong-willed and yet pragmatic.  She is compassionate and yet as ruthless as the situation requires.

There were two Caitroits that really summed up why Claire is a woman to care about, they said; “She makes the best possible life for her self with dignity, humor and compassion…” and she ” makes you think deeply about life, relationships and spiritualism; what’s really important…”   We care about Claire because she is a woman who cares about the important stuff.

Starz and Ron Moore are betting that viewers will find Claire and her story fascinating and relatable.  I’m betting they will too.

 

 

20140707-084222-31342530.jpg

Jamie brings Claire a posey (spoilers)

Standard

imageOne of my favorite scenes comes late in the series.  The relationship between Jamie and Claire has long been established.  They have had the time to get through the  honeymoon period and have moved on to true married life. We get to see their love blossom and grow through the events in  their everyday lives.  Usually, we hear scenes through Claire’s thoughts and feelings, but every once in awhile Diana lets us hear what Jamie is thinking and feeling.

The scene I’m thinking of takes place on Fraser’s Ridge.  Roger Mac has collected flowers for Bree and Claire has told him it was very romantic.  With her comments fresh in his mind Jamie watches Claire from the edge of the woods.  She is busy with her “back home” routine hurrying to check out her precious garden.  Jamie looks about and sees the woods for their aesthetic beauty for the first time. He picks Claire a “posey”, a bouquet  of color from the woods.  He calls her name and presents her with his gift.  He is warmed and pleased by her response. As moved as I am by his reaction, I am more touched by Claire’s response to this poison ivy filled bouquet.  She treasures it!

As usual, I make connections with the events in  Outlander and my own life. This is one of the reasons I love the series; it is so relatable. This particular connection is also about posies. My husband, like Jamie,  is a leader of men.  His jobs have always involved making decisions for many and having people follow his guidance and instructions.  He was a football player (American style, big boy positions) and then a coach for over 30 years.  He is the “go to” guy for fixing things, building things or solving problems. People look up to him and everybody knows him.

One day in early summer, he showed up to the house with a very large bouquet of purple flowers.  I recognized the flowers. They were wild flowers that grew along the side of the road near our house.  Claire and I must have been struck by the same realization; my big burly manly man saw flowers  and thought of me. I can just see my husband noticing  the flowers, making the decision, parking his car and picking flowers by the side of the road for all the world to see. And, like Claire, I know he had me on his mind; not work, not responsibilities, me.

This “posey” is the one I remember.  This is the gift I treasure, not the dozens of roses or pieces of expensive jewelry that followed, but this lowly, lovely, loving bouquet. Like Claire, I know there will never be another “posey” quite like this one and I treasure its memory.