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.

 

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.

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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

Jamie Fraser….portrait of a father…in Outlander

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My re-blog in time for Father’s Day!

My Outlander Blog!

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Spoilers: this post contains info about the entire series

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Every year, Father’s Day is celebrated in the U.S. on a Sunday in June. This day is often filled with family get-togethers, BBQ and gifts of some really ugly ties!  This wonderful family day can be bittersweet for many including myself. Memories of imperfect relationships, complicated emotions, and regret tend to rear their ugly heads.  It took me years of living and reflection to be able to look at this particular relationship with any semblance of objectivity. I had to become an adult with adult children before I could truly begin to understand my father.  I’ve heard people say, when discussing parental dysfunction, “he did the best he could with what he had”. I’m not sure that was true in my fathers’ case. It seems to me he had been given a lot to work with…

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He Thought He Was Going to Die… now… how does he live… Outlander Episode 15 & 16

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I WAS prepared.  The scenes at Wentworth unfolded much as they had in the book.  The menace was there.  The eerie certainty that Black Jack Randall would have his way was there from the moment he rode in to ” save” Jamie from the noose.  He could barely contain his relief and excitement.  His masterpiece lives and is his.  Tobias’ portrayal of Jack’s sick fascination with Jamie was perfectly executed in shades of reverent respect and barely contained sadistic lust. He would have his surrender. I was horrified and moved.

I’ve tried to boil down what exactly it is that moves me so much about the scenes between Claire, Jamie and Black Jack in that dungeon in Wentworth Prison. I think it has to do with this piece of dialogue from the book;

You can’t,” I whispered. “You can’t. I won’t let you.” His mouth was warm against my ear. “Claire, I’m to hang in the morning,. What happens to me between now and then doesna matter to anyone.” I drew back and stared at him. “It matters to me !” The strained lips quivered in what was almost a smile, and he raised his free hand and laid it against my wet cheek. “I know it does, mo moduinne . And that’s why you’ll go now. So I’ll know there is someone still who minds for me.”

The gut-wrenching knowledge that this could truly be the last time she saw him, knowing she had to leave him battered and in pain and in the fiendish hands of Black Jack Randall was painful to watch.  Her only chance to save him was to leave him …but… she knew she was leaving him to face his last few hours on Earth in a nightmare. Jamie was sacrificing his life to save hers… his compliance was being assured with a threat to his wife’s life.  He is keeping his word to give Claire time to get away,  He thought he was going to die, so what did it matter… her decision… his decision… both rooted in their love for the other. This is what moves me so much.

Cait’s tears of pain and grief gutted me. But, Sam’s silent tears and eyes wide with pain shook me …beyond words. It took me a moment’s reflection to understand what I was feeling and to understand those tears silently falling down his cheek. I saw the agony visited on his heart.  He was doing what he never thought he’d do…he was giving in …and suddenly he could still feel his father’s kiss, but now it was forever linked with the revolting kisses on his back and the taste of his wife’s salty tears of anguish on his lips. Yeah…I was moved and horrified.

The sacrifice was bigger than either of them could imagine.  The deliberate infliction of pain and humiliation by the rapist and sadist named Black Jack Randall, a man who finds his pleasure in the total domination of another, could not have been imagined despite the evidence before them both. Jamie naively believed that he would be able to remain unaffected by Black Jack Randall’s advances.  He knew there would be pain involved and he would feel repulsed, but he believed he could remain emotionally distant.  His illusions will be shattered within minutes.

What will we see in Episode 16 and the Aftermath of Wentworth

Later, In the book, Jamie feels the need to tell Claire what he experienced. He tells her that anyone can be broken if you work hard enough at it and Black Jack worked hard at it.  He wanted Jamie’s surrender, he wanted him broken and begging. His dark appetites for control and power over this seemingly unbreakable man were satisfied.

BJR will rape Jamie. The damage done physically would heal. What is more difficult to heal, of course, are the wounds that cannot be seen. Like many who suffer such trauma, once the shock fades and he has had time to process what has happened, Jamie feels distraught to the point of wanting to die. It is his own belief that suicide is a “mortal sin” that prevents him from taking his own life to end his despair. That and a desire not to give Black Jack Randall one more moment of his life, “…he has damned me in life. He willna damn me in death”.  .

What we haven’t talked about is the part a lot of rape victims don’t talk about, physical arousal during a rape.  This seems to be the aspect of the rape that  causes Jamie the greatest mental conflict. This is the part that causes him to cry out in anguish,

“… he hurt me -hurt me badly- while he did it, but it was an act of love to him. And he made me answer him- damn his soul! He made me rouse to him!”  The hand bunched into a fist and struck the bedframe with an impotent rage that made the whole bed tremble.”

The guilt, rage and shame that Jamie expresses over his physical arousal and orgasms at the hands of his rapist causes Jamie to question his identity.  I’m not saying that he questions his sexuality; he is hetero.  However, I do believe for the first time, Jamie isn’t sure he can trust himself.  He feels betrayed by his own body and mind.  Adding to the confusion is  BJR’s use of pain and mental gamesmanship.  We know that Jamie does recover enough to be with Claire and they go on to live their lives.  But, the fact that he was able to have a functioning relationship with Claire?  A miracle

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe there was some sound scientific theory behind Claire’s rescue attempt.  She used his own weakened and traumatized  mind to set him free.  It was sort of like a version of aversion therapy.   She exposed him to what he feared, but this time…he got to fight back. His Highland Warrior spirit fought its way home.  It makes sense, but the fact that it worked?  A miracle.

Like so many of us who journey through this world with the baggage of our past, Jamie must find a way to carry his knowledge and pain. He was going to die…so, now how does he live? The aftermath of Wentworth is living a life with a self-image, a core, that has been torn apart and patched back together. The scars are always there. Jamie is not the same man he once was. And… he discovered things about himself in that dungeon he didn’t know and now regrets knowing.

Jamie came to his wedding bed a virgin. His experience of sex up until Wentworth was found in the arms of his loving wife. Like many men, I believe Jamie closely relates sex to love. In fact, in one of the later books, Claire makes a comment to Jamie that love and sex are actually two different things. Jamie’s reply is that for him …they are very close. He associates sex with love. How confused must he be by his own body and its traitorous response to Black Jack’s “acts of love” .

In Dragonfly in Amber, Jamie has returned home from a night observing and resisting debauchery. He and Claire fight and he admits it was a near thing;

Too close,” he repeated, moving back a bit. “It was too damn close, Sassenach, and it scared me.” …”…it was … well, those women. What I felt like with them. I didna want them, truly not …” … “But the … the lusting, I suppose ye’d call it … that was … too close to what I feel sometimes for you, and it … well, it doesna seem right to me.” …“I always thought it would be a simple matter to lie wi’ a woman,” he said softly. “And yet … I want to fall on my face at your feet and worship you”— he dropped the towel and reached out, taking me by the shoulders— “and still I want to force ye to your knees before me, and hold ye there wi’ my hands tangled in your hair, and your mouth at my service … and I want both things at the same time , Sassenach.” He ran his hands up under my hair and gripped my face between them, hard. “I dinna understand myself at all, Sassenach! Or maybe I do.” …“Such things— the knowledge of them, I mean— it came to me soon after … after Wentworth.”… “I thought at the first that Jack Randall had stolen a bit of my soul, and then I knew it was worse than that. All of it was my own, and had been all along; it was only he’d shown it to me, and made me know it for myself. That’s what he did that I canna forgive, and may his own soul rot forever in hell”…“You’ll lie wi’ me now,” he said quietly. “And I shall use ye as I must. And if you’ll have your revenge for it, then take it and welcome, for my soul is yours, in all the black corners of it.”

This story of a woman and the man that she loves is so much more than a romance or an adventure. To me, the books and show are a monument to what it means to be human and … to the power of true love.

“Blessed is the influence of one true loving soul on another” Unknown

 

 

 

“I’m the Laird. That’s me”….Jamie and Brian …Outlander Episode 12

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Sometimes when I watch Outlander on Starz, I get an epiphiany.  I’ve read the books… a lot…, but sometimes this visual version helps me understand something from the story better.  There are advantages to seeing emotions on an actual face.

Starz showed us a small scene with Jamie’s father Brian.  That particular scene in the hallway of Ft. William was all that I pictured when reading Outlander and more.  It was right after Brian had just had a session with Black Jack.

Let me repeat that.

BRIAN HAD JUST HAD A SESSION WITH BLACK JACK!

What that means to the story, I am only now truly coming to appreciate.  The panic I heard in Brian’s  voice, the earnest need to have a “moment” with his son written all over his face and the assurance that “whatever happens” he would be there for Jamie,  took on new meaning for me.  What must have happened in that session?! We can only imagine what Black Jack said, but most assuredly, what DID happen was Jamie’s father recognizing what sort of man held his son’s life in his hands.

I get the feeling that Brian knew there was no “way out” for his son.  The Captain was going to give Jamie 100 lashes upon 100 lashes and there was nothing he could do to stop it.  At the very least, Brian had to believe that Randall meant harm that would effect Jamie for the rest of his life; torture, imprisonment.  I believe Brian’s real fear was that his son would die a horrible death right in front of his eyes.  So, he left his “Braw Lad” the only things of value he could give him; his faith in God and his love.  How many times must Jamie have thought of that kiss over last four years…heart-breaking.

In the books, Brian’s character and back story are revealed when Jamie tells Claire the stories of his own childhood. Here is what I know of Brian Fraser:

  • He is a fair man
  • He is a loyal man
  • He is a wise man
  • He is a man of faith
  • He values education
  • He respects women
  • He is a leader
  • He is a family man
  • He has a wry sense of humor
  • He Is a man of honor
  • He is a man of integrity

And…he wants to be a better man than his own father and…he is.  Jamie was lucky to have such a father as a role model, but it’s a lot to live up to.

Like many of us who lose someone close to us without the benefit of closure, Jamie has regrets and feels guilt.  His father died while watching the whipping and at some level Jamie believes it is his fault.  We all know someone who feels this type of guilt and regret. It is one of the common themes in the human condition.  Jamie’s response to these events is understandable and maybe even predictable.  Guilt and regret are feelings that aren’t always rational or accurate, but they still plague us.  We cannot help what we feel when we lose a loved one.

Feelings just are.

Due to circumstances beyond his control, Jamie has been unable to return home.  He has had a loooong time to think and feel.   In a very real way, his ability to deal with his grief has been delayed.  Jamie has been unable to finish his  business with his sister and deal with what the death of his father means to his position at Lallybroch.  Left unaddressed and unexpressed feelings can warp our views and maybe even change how we react or in Jamie’s case overreact, to what we think we see and hear.  I think Jenny’s comment, “No word in four years” speaks volumes.  Jamie is struggling with his feelings to the point that he couldn’t even bring himself to write home. Guilt.

I’ve seen some social media posts that have suggested that Jamie becomes an instant “arsehole” when he goes through the gates of Lallybroch and that it was just too big of a change in his personality for them to believe.  I’ve even seen folks write that the change was so extreme that Claire didn’t “recognize” the man she married.  I don’t think this is the case at all! I think Claire knew exactly what was happening to Jamie.  She just didn’t know exactly what to do about it!  The subtle and significant looks on Claire and Ian’s faces during the uncomfortable exchanges between the siblings told the viewer that EVERYONE knew!  My God,  the tension was so thick you could have cut it!

It really wasn’t hard to understand.  Jamie feels guilty about Jenny and that makes him misinterpret situations and act defensively.  Jenny is angry and secretly blames her brother for her father’s death. Her brother brought home a Sassenach to be lady of Lallybroch. A Sassenach who has never run an estate or home…like she has…for four years.  She’s coming out sideways too!

Jamie doesn’t want to let his father down.  He wants to be the Laird his father was.  He has a new wife and tenants he wants to impress.  So, maybe….he tries too hard at playing the “Laird”. Understandable. In my opinion, Jamie becomes the more loveable for his misguided attempts to be the man his father would be proud of. The fact that his sister called him on his shite was so true to sibling form that it made me laugh out loud!  He isn’t perfect. He is stubborn and at times brash, but he is willing to admit when he is wrong and move on. I loved Ian’s advice and Claire’s “dealing” with her “I’m the Laird” husband. She dumped his ass on the floor to get his attention! Wonderful.

I think Brian would have been proud of his children as he looked down at them embracing in the graveyard dealing with their grief and their love for one another.

“Frasers, their hearts are as big and soft as their heads are thick and strong” Ian Murray, Jamies’s best friend and Jenny’s husband.

My boyfriends back and there’s gonna be trouble…Outlander episode 9

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I don’t do recaps. However, I do like to wax on about at least something I’m feeling about the latest Outlander episode. So, I’m setting down to write my impressions of Episode 9.

Usually, I watch an episode three times before adding my thoughts to the mix, but Easter and spending time with my family made that a bit more difficult (In general, they don’t care and even somewhat disapprove of my need to watch. They are under the impression that I am obsessed. I know! Where could they have gotten that idea? ! ).  So, I finished my third viewing just this morning.

Just from the little I’ve read, I understand that the big controversy about Episode 9 seems to be divided between “Leery’ and the “Spanking”. I figure those scenes will be hashed out enough without my two cents. I do, however, find it somewhat amusing that critics and non-book readers are worked-up about the spanking scene, but book fans are more concerned about the scene by the river!  It most certainly has to be the difference of knowing the man Jamie will become in later books and the deviation from the “Leery” Jamie story arc.

And, that leads me to the point I’ll be making, the man Jamie is and will become.

As my readers know, I had some issues with how Jamie was being portrayed. I know that Claire doesn’t fall in love with him until after they are wed, but felt there were missed opportunities for letting the audience see why Claire was in danger of falling for him. I felt there was some missing dialogue and scenes that would have given the viewer a more accurate portrayal of Jamie and of the developing feelings Claire was having for him. Three scenes in particular stand to mind; Jamie confronting Dougal about his back, early rather than later, Jamie finally having a “last straw” moment and brawling in the tavern and Jamie and Claire’s moments of friendship after he confronts Dougal about using his back. I felt these scenes, as written in the books, would have let the viewer see more of the man beneath the boy and given them a clearer reason for why Claire could be in danger of loving this man.

I, of course, expressed my concerns in a blog. The result was a lot of lively, but respectful disagreement and discussion.  As I’ve said before, I don’t always agree with other fans, but I listen and consider and usually walk away with some new perspective. I agreed that some of their arguments had merit and that I would indeed trust Ron and his writers to tell the story to my satisfaction. After all, they are fans of the books too.

So, I blithely wrote that I would continue to watch and bide my time and promised that if, ” Ron and crew pull this off, I’ll write the biggest apology note I can muster for ever doubting their genius!   Will it all work out? “It would be pretty to think so”.  Currently, I’m thinking of a way to muster a big apology because I have a feeling I might have to.

My boyfriend (Jamie) is back and that is going to spell all kinds of delicious trouble for the characters and viewers of Outlander on Starz. I have to say the departure from Claire’s point of view was genius. I agree with Ron’s assertion that the story eventually becomes the story of Claire and Jamie, their life and love. In the books, it was always Claire’s story to tell, but I always felt that like many of us who commit to another human being for life, it becomes a story of two who are now one.  I am now appreciating how difficult it must be for the script writers, without the luxury of having pages and time, to boil a story down to its essential elements. I think it would be challenging to say the least (and think, despite the difficulty, I would really enjoy that challenge).  ” What is Jamie thinking?” was a brilliant technique for moving the story and the character forward. I don’t know who thought of it first in Tall Ships writer’s room, but kudos to whomever!

Jamie had dialogue long enough to let us see his character and with his convincing acting skills, Sam had time to let us “see” Jamie.  I’m still trying figure out exactly what it is he does to his face in the scene at Ft. William, but my own jaw tightened just watching! We saw Jamie be brave, calculating, thoughtful, loyal. imperfect, frustrated, devastated, strong, truthful, and caring, just to name a few of the many sides of the character I knew from the books.

The argument was brilliant and I could see why they chose this to be a chemistry test for Sam and Cait! There was enough chemistry there to blow up, oh, I don’t know…Ft.William? But, the two scenes that nailed it for me were Jamie’s scene with Colum and Jamie’s final scene with Claire.

During the scene with Colum, we got to see several of my favorite sides of Jamie’s character. He’s smart and mature beyond his years. I kept thinking he would have made a good laird for the Mackenzie clan. He is a natural leader of men and we will see the fruition of his potential in later books and hopefully, thank you God, the series.  As Jamie stands firm before the fear inspiring McKenzie (Bravo Gary!), I started squealing, “There he is! There’s my Jamie! A man among men! I love how he cares about his fellow man!” My husband who is watching with me, bless his soul, was nodding his head in the affirmative.  As a side note Matt, the only question my husband asked about what was happening on screen (and usually he irritatingly peppers me with questions while we are watching) was who “Hoor Rocks” was and I think that was only because he hadn’t re-watched the last episode. It was smooth and seamless story-telling.

The other scene they nailed was Jamie’s decision to break with tradition and pledge never to punish Claire again. I have written before that I felt that Jamie, in some ways, was more modern thinking than his 1940s counterpart Frank. Ron and crew have done an excellent job of portraying Jamie’s emotional intelligence before this episode. His understanding that in order to move his marriage forward he was going to have change his thinking was breath-takingly mature. He doesn’t have to be right.

After Jamie told Claire she was his “home now” and I sighed very loudly, my husband became very upset with Claire, “She’s going to tell him isn’t she? About her husband? She has to!! The poor guy is pouring his heart out to her!”  Can I just say thank you?  I’ve been trying to explain why Jamie is so wonderful for years. For years, I’ve been telling my husband he would like Jamie. I think he’s starting to get it.

As they lay in each other’s arms looking at each other in wonder, I sighed again and thought,”poor girl, you haven’t got a chance.”  I’m falling for him too Claire!

Now, how to make a really big apology…

Thanks Cait and Sam for Jamie and Claire…Quintessential Moments.

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image I’m watching the first eight episodes of Outlander in preparation for my standing appointment with the Starz channel every Saturday night.  While watching I was struck again by what a great job the actors are doing portraying my favorite characters.  In fact, there are some moments that scream Jamie and Claire!  Moments that are quintessential !  Here are some of my favorites. QUINTESSENTiAL CLAIRE: A lot of folks give Caitrionia Balfe praise for her portrayal of Claire’s strength, pluck and downright sassiness. It is well deserved praise. Claire is a smart, strong woman and Cait makes those qualities obvious.  However, it was her more subtle performances that convinced me she was right for the part. One of my favorite things about Claire’s character is her lack of guile.  She isn’t a woman who is motivated by greed, money or political gain.  She hasn’t much need for manipulation or lies.   Because she finds herself trying to survive long enough to get back to the stones, she has to lie, but she never seems quite comfortable doing so.  She seems to find it even more difficult to lie to herself. I’ve always admired her inability and unwillingness to fool herself.  She owns her thoughts and feelings even if she doesn’t like what she is thinking or feeling. Cait gave me the quintessential Claire moment when Jamie asked her if she enjoyed their love-making session.  Right away her face showed her internal conflict. Jamie, not having any clue about Frank, of course misinterprets the change on her face to mean she did not enjoy herself.  However, in true to form Claire fashion, Cait let us see her confusion, her correct interpretation of Jamie’s disappointment and sadness, and the moment she admits the truth to herself.   “Well, there it was. Not only was I a bigamist and adulterer, but I’d enjoyed it”. Quintessential Claire. outlander107a QUINTESSENTIAL JAMIE: Jamie is being portrayed as a man with some emotional intelligence. His sensitivity and concern  for Claire comes through loud and clear. The audience can see, through Sam’s performance, that this man is different from the other men at the castle.  But, for me the moments that are quintessential Jamie are once again more subtle. I so enjoy his moments of humor and self-deprecation and the little peeks at the man beneath the boy. There are actually several scenes that found me saying, “Yes! He gets Jamie!”  When Claire is tending his shoulder at the castle and Jamie has just told her a horrible story about his sister and  Black Jack, he responds to her sympathy with the, “Aye chickens are verra poor company” line. Jamie’s ability to not take difficult circumstances too seriously is one of his saving graces.  He has every reason to feel sorry for himself, to feel bitter and yet, he chooses to give not one more moment to Black Jack. Cheerfully taking a beating, forcing Dougal to give him a wedding, comparing Claire’s hair to water in a bern, were all convincing performance moments. But, the one that caught my attention was the scene in the stable with Murtaugh. With a few sentences and body language, Sam was able to convey the man of integrity that is Jamie Fraser. ” I plan to be married, but the one time and I will do so in a way that will make my mother proud”. Quintessential Jamie. He is guided by a moral compass. 571-300x187 QUINTESSENTIAL JAMIE AND CLAIRE: There are a lot of scenes between the two that are heart-warming, sexy and flirtatious.  The scene in the surgery where she is checking his shoulder? There was enough chemistry to blow up the castle! The wedding was superbly well done. I sighed and giggled and sighed some more watching those two consummate their vows.  But, once again my Jamie and Claire quintessential moment was more subtle. The infamous “Help! he’s falling over!” scene. LOL!  I remember watching it and thinking THERE, right there is where he fell in love! She is threatening, cursing, caring, kind and demanding and he… is awestruck. Which of course he covers up with a Jamie quip,”Threats is it? And after I shared my drink with you too!”  I was so struck by this I wrote a poem!   ALIEN ANGEL He awoke to a vision A bristling, cursing, demanding angel He awoke to love s01e01_869   IN CONCLUSION: I know not everyone will agree with me and I wouldn’t expect you to! Everyone brings their own experience to a reading or film and therefore no one will have the exact same reaction or interpretation.  Everyone will see things differently and have their own quintessential moments. Which when I think about that reality, I find myself in awe of Mr. Moore, his writers and directors. Getting it right seems almost impossible!  But, overall, I think they delivered the spirit of my beloved story.  And Cait and Sam? Thanks for delivering on the promise of being THE Jamie and Claire!

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!

Book boyfriends and Jamie Fraser…some lite research

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I’ve been seeing a term used a lot lately; it’s the term book boyfriends. There are polls, websites and blogs dedicated to the topic. In fact, one of my posts was used by an on-line book club to spark a discussion about alpha book boyfriends.

Evidently, there is an established criteria that male fictional characters are being measured against to establish their book boyfriend worthiness. Included in this criteria are characteristics such as strength, wit, fighting skills, looks, and virility.  The members of The Saucy Wenches Book Club were discussing the merits of their favorite book boyfriends and why each needed to be included in a list of top Alpha Book Boyfriends. Reading the bantering of the members was enlightening. One of the bones of contention was the idea that James Fraser, of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, might be too perfect to reign atop the ultimate alpha book boyfriend list!  If Jamie is too perfect, he’s my kind of too perfect!  These “flaws” that people love in their book boyfriends make for interesting reading, but do not equate to desirable qualities in a good real-life relationship.  In fact, take my advice as an old woman with a 38 yr. marriage under her belt, should you encounter a man with some of these “interesting” flaws, run. run like hell!  There seems to be a difference in what women want in real-life and….Hmmmmm…..

This discussion piqued my curiosity and I wanted to know more!  I started googling book boyfriends.  There were pages of links to the words’ use, but curiously enough, I couldn’t find a definition.  Thinking that I must be mistaken, I googled again. Nope!  Even the urban dictionary lacked a definition for this phenomenon.  Well, I thought to myself, SOMEBODY is missing out on some interesting social research!  Now, I know falling in love with fictional characters isn’t new, but has it ever been studied?  I mean, we know they’re not real, right? Right!  And yet, the feelings they inspire are real. At least…while I’m reading..and Fangirling with my like-minded friends. Seriously, if someone had just walked into the room during one of these sessions, I’m pretty sure they would think we were all lusting after a real man. Hmmmm….interesting.

So… I googled, “why do we fall in love with fictional characters?”.  I found that there seems to be a couple of trains of thought:

  • Women who fall in love with fictional characters are unhappy with themselves and their own lives.
  • We desire the kind of love the character offers.

I’m not sure I’m too happy about either of those options. So, I set about to find evidence to disprove the idea that the reason I love James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser is because I’m some desperately unhappy woman with low-self-esteem and an unrealistic idea of love and relationships!  There had to be another explanation. There are too many of us out there who would appear to be highly functioning, relatively happy women with okay self-esteem who love book-boyfriends! Soooooo,…… Let the “lite” research begin!

THE FINDINGS

One of the first articles I came across was written by a Yahoo contributor named Kyra Lennon. Back in August of 2010, she wrote an article exploring her love for J.K. Rowlings character Sirius Black. She had come to the conclusion that her love for Sirius was just an, “Extension of my love of J.K. Rowlings writing skills.”  Whoo hoo! I liked this!  It’s Diana’s fault! If she wasn’t so damn skilled at writing three dimensional characters, I wouldn’t have an issue!  My love for Jamie is just a natural progression fueled by my appreciation of Diana’s writing skills.  Sigh…..nope…still wishing I was Claire.  Damn….and that rationale sounded all “intellectual” and everything!

Ms. Lennon went on to add that she thought the “fantasy” for women was that these male characters could be perfect. “They will never disappoint or hurt us and they’ll be there when we need them”. She added she felt loving fictional men was okay, as long as it isn’t an obsession.  Obsession. Well, there’s a term I’ll need to clarify!

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I found a WIKI page entitled, “How to Cope with Being in Love with a Fictional Character”.  It didn’t take me long to realize these people were serious! This was REAL advice for those who found themselves obsessed with someone who wasn’t real.  The article pointed out that loving a fictional character can cause you to disconnect with real-life and judge others harshly because you are focusing on perfection. They deemed this to be unhealthy and encouraged people to “fall out” of love. (ya’ think?) The very serious wake-up call for their readers who were seeking help was to understand that the character they are in love with…can’t love them back.  Wow.

AND

Uh..oh…a response to a fan written by Karen Moning, the author of the Fever Series, and creator of Jericho Barrons some serious book boyfriend material.  He is one of those seriously flawed, but totally readable and sexy characters that many women love to love. Ms. Moning seems to be aware that some fans have difficulty keeping reality and fantasy separate and warns us to, “not pretend they are real”.  Women who compare real men to fictional men have,” expectations that are way too high”.  Not, sure I agree. Oh, I’m okay with the don’t pretend they are real part, but what defines way too high?  If she means the whole idea of a man who never smells, burps or forgets to take out the garbage, etc. then okay, but what’s wrong with aspiration and emulation? What’s wrong with having standards? Good is good!  I’m not so sure some men couldn’t learn some things from fictional characters! Nobody is perfect, but don’t we all want to grow and become better versions of ourselves?  I know good when I see it, fictional or real!

….and…

Debra Montieth wrote an article in 2009 asking the question, “Why do women love fictional characters?” Her conclusion? How could they not?  Most fictional heroes are affectionate, beautiful, perfect lovers, listeners, protectors, sensitive and faithful. What’s not to love? This would appear to support the whole “women will get unrealistic expectations theory”, but she was like all, “so what”!  I liked her.

A GENERAL CONSENSUS

Many of the articles I found agreed that engaging in a relationship with a fictional character can be healthy not harmful. They pointed out that getting away from everyday life and real relationships for a bit is a good thing.  They point out that a little escapism never hurt anybody. But,….there’s always a but…they all warned that women need to be on guard against obsession. There’s that word again!

TO TELL THE TRUTH

To tell you the truth, I didn’t find a lot. I found lists of the top book boyfriends extolling the afore mentioned criteria, but not any serious research.

I found articles on why women love bad boys. That might correlate. Being able to love a bad boy on the page would be much easier and safer than loving one in real-life.

I did find one item of real research entitled, “Research of Mass Media Effects on Individuals and Society” by Mary Lou Galician, 2009.  It wasn’t directly aimed at book boyfriends or the women who read them, but it did have some things to say in general about romanticism and it helped me clarify obsession.

The author points out that at the obsessive extreme, ” romantic relationships are a form of addiction”.  This obsession results in, “disabling attachment filled with anxiety, fantasy,and over dependence”.  She labels this as , ” false love syndrome” which is mythical and stereotypical .  Real love she points out is about shared goals and commitment. Real love is “productive, enlarging and joyful” .  Good things to know.

I GUESS I HAVE TO GUESS

Due to a lack of documented research or my ability to find it, I have come to the conclusion I have to make a hypotheses.  My best guess based on my experience and observation.

WHY I LOVE JAMMF

I guess I do kinda blame Diana.  She didn’t write a romance. Instead, she wrote a love story. As a result, she created a character with character and substance.  Jamie isn’t a book boyfriend. No, rather, I find him to be as close to the real thing, a man, as I’ve ever read.  He isn’t perfect, but he does exemplify a man with values, integrity and the ability to love.  I believe Ms. Gabaladon has written a character worthy of my admiration. I recognize a good thing when I see it!  I know he isn’t real and I know he doesn’t love me back.  But, I do think he is a man worth emulating and I think men could do far worse than learn a thing or two from Jamie Fraser.

I’m not unhappy with my life, but I do enjoy the escape from the everyday Ms. Gabaldon’s books offer.  I think it’s ok to live In her world for awhile. After all, she does .  I find it healthy.  It challenges me mentally and emotionally.  However, I am on the look out for the obsession part! I laughingly say I’m obsessed, but I am still able to reign it back and function.

I’m sure there are woman out there desperately unhappy and looking for an unrealistic love.  But, most of the women I know understand the difference between fictional and real. And, sometimes the fantasy helps when real life sucks. If you want to know what I really think of James Fraser read my article on this site called “He’s a Man and That’s No Small Thing” http://wp.me/p4mtBT-41. It’s the one used for back-up info in the alpha book boy friend contest.

 

What’s going on here?….where is JAMIE!!!

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imageI know I risk being called an Outpouter by writing this, but here goes. If I was Claire I’d be more interested in Dougal.  At least the Dougal in Outlander Starz.  That guy is interesting, complex and sexy.  Certainly, Claire finds him irritating, but he definitely is a strong principled man.  Jamie? Who? Oh, the kid. Yeah, he’s cute.

Within minutes of episode 5 credits rolling across the screen, I tweeted my confusion and concern. I don’t understand!  How could you screw up THIS relationship? Right now I’m not believing Claire could love this guy.  The show has taken all of this time to develop Claire as this smart self-assured woman and now she is going to fall in love with THIS Jamie.  Not that Claire, not this Jamie. Unless something drastically changes, I’m not buying it.  Being a cute gallant puppy dog wouldn’t be enough to catch this Claire and make her choose to stay in the past.

Where did this go wrong? Where is Jamie’s personality? More importantly, where is his spirit?  I can’t help but feel that this Jamie needs to get a spine. While reading, I always had the sense that Jamie was an extremely mature young man who indeed picked his battles, but enough is enough!  I miss the scene where Jamie confronts Dougal RIGHT AFTER he rips off his shirt. I also miss the scene that follows.  There was friendship that happened in that scene between Jamie and Claire and appreciation for Jamie’s skills. Claire got to see Jamie in a different more interesting light.  How did we go from steaming hot self-assured “je suis prest” Jamie to “he’s my uncle” just go to bed Jamie?

Ok, so…all the folks who have seen episode 6 rave about it.  My understanding is that the two men featured in this episode will be Dougal and Black Jack. I’m sure I’m going to continue to fall in love with these performances. But, here’s the rub. The wedding is episode 7.  Is there going to be enough time to fix this? It’s my hope that Dougal’s “reference” scene really is.  Maybe some of Jamie’s strong character can be restored by explaining the flogging. I’m scared that every character in the series Claire, Dougal, Black Jack, Murtagh, Rupert, Ned,….will be developed to perfection (and they have) and  Jamie  will remain the cute kid who Claire has sex with! Arrrgh!

Episode 5 had some wonderful exposition, Culloden, the Black Watch, the Redcoats.  And, Scotland indeed became a character. But, I was left disappointed because of the sorely missing fix of Jamie’s guts, spirit and wit. I need to believe this is a guy Claire can’t help but fall in love with.  There is nothing wrong with Sam’s performance. He’s doing the best with what he’s been given. But, that’s my point! What are they giving him! I want book Jamie! He’s a man to be reckoned with and…love.

So, here is what is saving me from going into deep dark fangirl depression. Diana likes it.  I know it’s an adaptation and not my book and there is a new episode next week. So, I’m holding out hope that the King of Men arrives…soon!