Women Love Jamie Because He Talks In Bed…why yes,…he does and why yes,…I do

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I’ve been re-reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon and I forgot how many of my favorite scenes were in this book!  I think I forget because the focus when people talk about The Fiery Cross is usually about the pages (and more pages) devoted to the gathering  that I jokingly (and affectionately) call the longest day ever written.  To tell the truth, it was a bit of a slough the first time I read it, but true to almost everything Diana has written, over time, I have grown to appreciate those chapters more and more.  She has become my favorite writer and as a person who fancies herself a writer, I’m always eager to read anything about Diana’s writing process or  what she thinks about her own characters.  I want a keek at her brain!  So, I was thrilled when I recently got a delightful glimpse into her thoughts about her well beloved character James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser… who talks in bed.  

Erin Conrad, of Three If By Space, tweeted from an EW fan convention that Diana, responding to a fan question, said the reason women love Jamie is “because he talks in bed”.  I giggle-snorted when I read this and then thought, “Why yes,..yes, he does and it is definitely swoon worthy”. In fact, some of my favorite  Jamie moments are found in their bed.  

There has been a lot of discussion in the fandom about what we hope to see in season 3 of Outlander on Starz.  One of the biggest things fans hope to see is more time in bed with Jamie and Claire.  Some want to see them make love because let’s face it , Diana wrote some fantastic love scenes and as one of my readers put it, “I’m not paying Starz to use my imagination!” Yep. Another reason some fans lament the lack of sex in season 2 is that they miss the communication that happens when those two are in bed together. Sex is an integral part of how they communicate with each other, it is often how they connect when words just aren’t sufficient or there are no words. However, the things Jamie does say in bed…sigh…are funny, playful, moving, tender words that really could move a heart to love him.

I tried to think of my favorite moments and to tell the truth it just isn’t possible!  Each time I would think I’d narrowed my choice down another heart warming or pounding moment would leap to mind.  From Outlander to Written in My Heart’s Own Blood, the relationship between the two is both revealed and shaped in their bed and choosing a favorite seems impossible because each moment is a part of the whole, each moment important.

During their honeymoon, Claire muses about finding herself  the sexually experienced one in the relationship and thinks “…there are in fact only a limited number of ways in which two bodies can meet, and we had not yet established that territory of intimacy in which the act of love takes infinite variety.” Diana has always maintained that writing a good sex scene isn’t about the exchange of body fluids, but about the emotional connection.  Jamie and Claire’s sex life moves into the territory of “infinite variety”  because of what is said in their bed and each “coming together” becomes unique and important.  It is the words that are said between the two that make the physical act meaningful.  When Jamie and  Claire are in bed it is as if the world goes away and he speaks to her as we all wish our men would speak to us, open and vulnerable because they trust us to be gentle with their hearts.

JAMIE THE COMIC

IMG_0427Many of the moments in Jamie and Claire’s bed are funny; what animals have you seen, hedgehogs, and the King of Ireland come to mind.  When Claire returns to him in Voyager the importance of these moments becomes clear when Jamie tells Claire he never thought he would laugh in a woman’s bed again.  Being able to laugh together in bed is rare gift of intimacy and comfortableness.

“Aye, well,” he said. “I dinna recall Adam’s asking God to take back Eve—and look what she did to him.” He leaned forward and kissed my forehead as I laughed, then drew the blanket up over my bare shoulders. “Go to sleep, my wee rib. I shall be needin’ a helpmeet in the morning.”

OUTLANDER Chapter 36:

Their laughter often makes me as teary eyed as their more serious moments.  But, the serious moments are so revealing and represent the many different levels of intimacy.

EMOTIONAL JAMIE

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One of my favorite things about Jamie is his gratefulness and I’m always moved by his expressions of gratitude for what God has given him and that most certainly includes  his relationship with Claire.

 “And yet”—he turned me toward him, hand closing gently over one breast—“yet when I think of you wi’ my child at your breast….then I feel as though I’ve gone hollow as a soap bubble, and perhaps I shall burst with joy.”
He pressed me tight against his chest, and I hugged him with all my might.
“Oh, Claire, ye do break my heart wi’ loving you.”

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER Chapter 6:

VULNERABLE JAMIE

does-it-stop“Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” “Even when I’ve just left ye, I want you so much my chest feels tight and my fingers ache with wanting to touch ye again.”  OUTLANDER, Chapter 17

I loved this scene because of the awe and wonder he expresses.  To me this is the moment when he begins to understand that sex is more than the physical act.  Every woman wants to hear that a man cannot stop feeling desire for her and that he aches for her.

JAMIE IN CHARGE

master“Not yet. We’ve time. And I mean to hear ye groan like that again. And to moan and sob, even though you dinna wish to, for ye canna help it. I mean to make you sigh as though your heart would break, and scream with the wanting, and at last to cry out in my arms, and I shall know that I’ve served ye well.”       OUTLANDER, Chapter 41

This scene signaled that Jamie has come into his own as a lover and that Claire is no longer the teacher and he the pupil. He has become aware that he has the power to make her feel and he revels in it. She, I’m sure, revels in his power, as well. Take charge Jamie is hot.

HONEST JAMIE

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Jamie is a very emotionally mature man, a man who takes ownership of his perceived failings. His honesty is startling and endearing and gives Claire permission to reveal her own confusion and weaknesses.  He makes her feel emotionally safe with his openess.

“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 you 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.”  DRAGONFLY IN AMBER Chapter 17

 POSSESSIVE JAMIE

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 “All right,” he whispered. His eyes bored into mine, daring me to close them, forcing me to hold his gaze. “All right. And ye wish it, I shall punish you.” He moved his hips against me in imperious command, and I felt my legs open for him, my gates thrown wide to welcome ravishment.
“Never,” he whispered to me. “Never. Never another but me! Look at me! Tell me! Look at me, Claire!” He moved in me, strongly, and I moaned and would have turned my head, but he held my face between his hands, forcing me to meet his eyes, to see his wide, sweet mouth, twisted in pain.
“Never,” he said, more softly. “For you are mine. My wife, my heart, my soul.”

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Sometimes jealousy is okay and sexy.  Who wouldn’t want to be this man’s wife, heart, and soul?

GENTLE JAMIE

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I’ve often told my husband those moments when he is gentle are extremely meaningful to me.  When he looks tenderly into my eyes and touches my face gently with his big hands, I feel cherished.  Jamie has so many of those moments when his gentleness lets Claire know she is cherished. This scene when she wakes and finds he is watching her sleep and murmuring his love to her makes me tearful everytime.

“What is it, love?” I whispered. “Jamie, I do love you.”
“I know it,” he said quietly. “I do know it, my own. Let me tell ye in your sleep how much I love you. For there’s no so much I can be saying to ye while ye wake, but the same poor words, again and again. While ye sleep in my arms, I can say things to ye that would be daft and silly waking, and your dreams will know the truth of them. Go back to sleep, mo duinne.”
I turned my head, enough that my lips brushed the base of his throat, where his pulse beat slow beneath the small three-cornered scar. Then I laid my head upon his chest and gave my dreams up to his keeping.                                                                    OUTLANDER CHAPT 45

JAMIE A LOVE FOR ALL TIME

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Every woman wants to find a mutually passionate relationship.  She hopes to find someone she feels free to love with all her heart . Jamie’s ability to express his love for Claire is nothing short of poetic.

“I was dead, my Sassenach–and yet all that time, I loved you.”

I closed my eyes, feeling the tickle of the grass on my lips, light as the touch of sun and air.

“I loved you, too,” I whispered. “I always will.”

The grass fell away. Eyes still closed, I felt him lean toward me, and his mouth on mine, warm as sun, light as air.

“So long as my body lives, and yours–we are one flesh,” he whispered. His fingers touched me, hair and chin and neck and breast, and I breathed his breath and felt him solid under my hand. Then I lay with my head on his shoulder, the strength of him supporting me, the words deep and soft in his chest.

“And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire–I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you.”

 DRUMS OF AUTUMN, chapter 16

Jamie has raised talking in bed to an art form and we readers find ourselves appreciating his talent…a lot. I know that Jamie is a fictional man and perhaps ideal, but I can’t help but believe that real men could learn a thing or two about talking in bed from him.   Diana has created a man who makes us love pillow talk and him.

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Get ready for sexy old folks……a reflection on Outlander season 3

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Caitriona Balfe just celebrated her 37th birthday on October 4th.  All day long, I saw well wishes for her flash across my social media sites.  Outlander’s fans, the cast, crew, and creators were all wishing her the happiest of days and thanking her for bringing Diana Gabaldon’s character the WWII nurse, Claire Randall Fraser, to life.  Her birthday fell in close proximity to a few casting and award announcements and the unveiling of a new EW cover (the cover was tweeted one day after I wrote this http://wp.me/p4mtBT-4BP coincidence?…I think I’m clairvoyant! LOL).  All of this news had me thinking about season 3 and I’ve got ideas jotted down and several articles in creation about Fergus and Ian and Marsali.  There has been lots of inspiration for an Outlander blog! Today, however, I find myself still thinking of Caitriona’s birthday.  She is 37 on the upward slope toward forty which often is the point of no return or should I say no role for most actresses. Have you seen Amy Schumer’s skit on the subject?  https://youtu.be/XPpsI8mWKmg

I know that Cait has said that she has no interest in being a starlet and so, I’m wondering if she had any real idea how fortuitous it was she said yes to playing Claire? She has an opportunity to play a character that will not only continue to grow as a person, but she will get the chance to play a character who ages.  She is going to get to play a female character who still has an active sex life past forty.  In fact, her character still has a passionate sex life…until she’s…well, last time I checked Claire and her Jamie were grandparents who indulge their appetite for each other…often. Folks,…Outlander has the chance to once again break some ground in portraying sex on TV. Brace yourselves there is a chance we will see hot sex between two older monogamous married people who are passionately committed to each other.

First, let me say that the older I get the older still being young seems to get.  I can remember when  I thought 50 seemed the end of the line for everything including being sexy.  I recall reading a reflection Erma Bombeck wrote about turning 50. She was looking forward to being able to dress in loose pants and going to the grocery store without makeup.  She believed there would be less pressure to conform because nobody cared what you looked like when you turned fifty.  Evidently, Erma and I believed their was an expiration date on sexual attractiveness.

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I’ve been married to the same man going on 41 years.  We still hold hands and kiss…in front of people…like our children, which for some reason totally grosses them out.  We hear things like “Stop!  We get it, we get it, you still have sex , but just… STOP!”  LOL!  It’s not like we are groping each other and swallowing each other’s tongues and need to be told to get a room.  Usually, it’s just a “moment” when we feel affection or gratitude and lean in for a gentle kiss and a look into each other’s eyes.  I would think knowing your parents feel this way about each other would be a good thing, but evidently,…not so much. This leads me wonder how Outlander will portray sex between it’s two main characters who are rapidly approaching fifty.  I’m wondering if they know they have the chance to once again break the mold when it comes to how sex is portrayed on the screen, because believe or not, people over fifty do have sex lives.  One of the things that has kept me attracted to this book series is Diana Gabaldon’s decision to go beyond the falling in love stage in relationships.  She decided to write about love that lasts for fifty years.  I think that’s why some of the books that come later in the series like A Breath of Snow and Ashes are my favorites.  I read them and find myself nodding in recognition of the truth of what it is like to be in a committed relationship.  

I believe that our society has a very unrealistic view of being in love which Hollywood has tended to perpetuate.  We tend to believe it’s like the fairytale. Happy endings aren’t necessarily easy to obtain. Ms. Gabaldon’s books take the reader beyond falling in love and into the everyday realities of how people stay in love despite tragedy and hardship.  

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My husband once told me about a conversation he had with one of his young college football players.  The young man had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and was going to drop out of school. My husband told him our story which included my getting pregnant at 18 and his not dropping out of college.  He told him it could be done and he would help him find a way to make it happen if the young man wanted to stay in school.  My husband said he felt the need to tell the young man the truth about marriage, “Marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is the thing I am the most proud of”.  Diana’s books give us a portrait of the self-sacrifice, acceptance, loyalty, and sometimes the forgiving it takes to maintain a long-term relationship.  One of the reasons some fans lament the lack of sex in season 2 is that they miss the communication that happens when those two are in bed together.  Sex is an integral part of how they communicate with each other, it is often how they connect when words just aren’t sufficient or there are no words.  It rings true to me, sex is important for a variety of reasons in a marriage and I hope season three of Outlander will show us sex between this older couple that comes close to approximating real-life because for the most part Hollywood hasn’t.

I find myself more and more fascinated by the role film plays in our perceptions, particularly of women. In general, Hollywood has an abysmal record when it comes to representing women as real members of the human race and that includes representing aging women in film.

Men over 40 accounted for 53% of characters whereas women that age represented 30%. That has implications for the number of female authority figures onscreen.

Age is one issue among many that has endured in Hollywood. The study found that among actors over 40 in film and television, 74.3% of characters are male and only 25.7% are female.

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When they do put older women paired with an older man in a film the relationship still isn’t portrayed as sexy, but instead is “typically portrayed as sweet, cute and humorous”. It is about companionship rather than a real relationship.

If you watch a random assortment of Hollywood movies, you could be forgiven for believing that the only people who have sex are in their 20s and, occasionally, 30s. When people in their 50s and older engage in an on-screen romance, their relationship is typically portrayed as sweet, cute and humorous.

In other words, the message that film-makers send us is, “Sex is for when you are young. Companionship is for when you’re older.” While it’s true that most of us know more about relationships now than we did as teenagers, this certainly doesn’t mean that sex has left the building. Far from it! In real life, baby boomers are saying that sex gets better with age.  (read this great article with Dame Helen Mirren about sex after 60) http://sixtyandme.com/should-hollywood-embrace-sex-after-50/

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Curious, I began looking for information to read about older women and sex in film.  One article link that popped up on my screen was entitled “The Top Ten Sex Scenes of Actresses Over 50” on a webpage call MiddleSexy which promotes the idea that sex when we are older can be better than when we are younger “older/better/sexier”.  I was hopeful that what I would find was a list of films that showed women over fifty in “realistic” sexual relationships…not so much.  In this article, 9 out of 10 of the films listed involved older women having sex with younger men and one about incest.  Evidently, Hollywood and the author believe only “cougars” can be sexy or have hot sex.  http://middlesexy.com/2014/10/21/top-10-movie-sex-scenes-featuring-actresses-over-50/

Men, as Amy Shumer’s skit suggests, don’t have an expiration date and are still seen as f*able no matter how old they are.  Do you remember the fuss over Carrie Fisher’s not aging well in the new Star Wars movie? http://wp.me/p65lj4-2r Women are consistently told they are too old to play the love interest of men older than themselves.  https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/may/21/maggie-gyllenhaal-too-old-hollywood

I asked myself if I could remember a film that actually showed an older couple having hot sex. The only movie I could think of was The Thomas Crown Affair with Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan.  It was definitely sexy, but missing a key component for me…the ever after part.  This was still just another falling in love story. However, it should still be considered ground-breaking for it’s portrayal of an older couple having passionate sex. I would have loved to have seen a sequel to that movie.  Were those two character able to make a relationship work?! 

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The good news is that there seems to be more attention being paid to Hollywood’s issues with women in general.  Outlander has been part of a movement that has shown that TV with a female protagonist can generate audiences and money.  One of the biggest reasons we don’t see more realistic portrayals of older couples on the screen is because there aren’t enough women behind the camera and enough good roles being written for older women.

You’ve got to go behind the camera to fix things in front of the camera.http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/09/youre-the-worsts-aya-cash-on-ageism-in-hollywood.html

But, here’s some even better news…Outlander has two seasons to show the world that sex between two older committed people can be hot and meaningful too.  

Brianna…a hard nut to crack

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We are mid “Droughtlander” and anxiously awaiting a few casting announcements.  Brianna and Roger haven’t  been cast yet or if they have there hasn’t been an official announcement.  As anxious as I am for a peek at who they have chosen, I have to say I’m glad they are taking their time choosing these two.  Getting these two characters right is a big deal!  They are important to the rest of the books and hopefully, to the rest of the series.

I’ve talked to very few book fans who weren’t half in love with Roger. He’s very likable and an interesting mixture of strength and vulnerability.  He is every bit as emotionally intelligent as Jamie and I’ve always felt that he “gets” Claire. In fact, I’ve felt they have a lot in common.  He is patient, forgiving, caring, smart, strong, and capable of loving unconditionally.  He stood up to Jamie and earned his respect. That fact alone tells you that Roger is a man worth admiration and respect.

Then there’s Brianna… she tends to inspire a variety of fan responses.   Some fans love her and some hate her.

I’ve always felt that Claire and Jamie were pretty easy to figure out.  It isn’t hard to understand what motivates them.  Claire is a kind woman who cares about the people around her.  Jamie does the best he can with the gifts and people he believes God has entrusted him. I’ve come to see their daughter as a bit harder to figure out.  I’ve come to see her as complex.

I once had a conversation with some fans where I mentioned the fact that Brianna was probably more difficult to write because of her being inserted into the story as a baby. Diana had to start from scratch! Add to the difficulty of creating a persona for an already established character, the fact that she is the child of two very strong and well-loved characters and you get fan expectations. In fact, one of the fans I was discussing Brianna with said she believed “Diana got lazy with Brianna’s character. Just because she was hard to write doesn’t give her permission to do a poor job.”  SAY WHAT?!

Further questioning revealed that this fan didn’t like Brianna as a character. I believe the words she used were selfish and bratty. I can remember at the time feeling a little incensed that someone would call Diana a lazy writer.  I still marvel at how she connects every little detail, every character to the on-going story.  You better remember what she writes because somewhere in one of the eight books those details and characters are going to come into play. Lazy? Have you seen the size of those books? And how many best sellers has she written? And whose books are so full of entertaining characters and plots that they made it a TV series? Lazy? Soooo not buying that one. But, when I was thinking of the casting of Brianna for the show that conversation came back to mind; selfish and bratty. Was she?  If not, then why would someone think that I wondered? Did Diana try to make her difficult to like?

As you probably know, Diana Gabaldon often shares insight into her writing process.  She once said that when she writes she is usually dealing with three types of characters; onions, mushrooms, and nuts.  Claire and Jamie are considered onions, they are multiple-layered and with each new book she gets a chance to add to the layers. Lord John is an example of a mushroom, he just sort of pops up fully formed. Then there are the hard nuts, characters like Brianna who HAVE to be written because they already have a place in the story.

So, I started thinking about how Diana chose to write Brianna. The reader might expect that the daughter of these two characters would be pretty wonderful, perfect in fact. Given how wonderful her parents were it would be reasonable to expect Diana to write a character that reflects the best of their character traits.  But, Diana is pretty good at not giving us the usual and the to be expected in her characters and story.  Brianna should be a character that is a perfect blend of Jamie and Claire…to quote Diana, ” says who?”

I think Diana made Brianna unique.  She IS a great mixture of the two of them, but there is the key word…mixture. Jamie and Claire each brought unique skills and aptitudes and personalities to the moment of Brianna’s conception.  But, like when you mix vanilla, flour, sugar, and eggs together and then bake it you have something entirely new…cake.  Jamie and Claire are some great genetic ingredients, but sometimes just a little too much of one thing and not another can change the taste of the whole thing! And then you still have to have the right temperature and bake it the right amount of time, etc.

So, I believe Diana decided that Brianna would be a product of both nature and nurture just like the rest of us.  The fact that she is a child of the fifties and sixties in America really should impact who she is a person, as does being raised by Frank and then finding out he wasn’t her father. Her mother broke through gender barriers to become a doctor in a time of emerging feminism, that had to have made an impression.  In a way, Bri going back through the stones would have been an even harder adjustment than what her mother experienced.  At least Claire had some understanding of how to be the ” little woman” or what it meant to be submissive to men. I dare say Brianna never saw her mother playing the submissive role.

I’ve heard fans say they don’t like how she treats Roger. What I’ve seen is that she expects to be treated as an equal. She sticks up for herself and her needs. Maybe this is where people get the idea she is selfish and bratty?  But, isn’t that what we say we all want for our daughters, the ability to stand up for themselves? Brianna knows her own worth and expects to be treated as worthy of respect and fair treatment.  Roger, bless his heart, believes she is worthy too!  She isn’t easy, but he’s up for the challenge. It takes a strong man to love a strong woman.

So, what kind of person did Diana decide to create in the character of Brianna. I believe Brianna is the modern woman; she is

confident

loyal

empathetic

in touch with her own needs

not willing to settle

self-sufficient

passionate

stubborn

kind

bold

Yep, the nut didn’t fall far from either tree! Can’t wait to meet her on the screen!

SPOILERS THROUGH VOYAGER! Frank’s wisdom… loving a special woman

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It has been brought to my attention that I write about the characters in Outlander as if they were real people.  I’d like to acknowledge this truth and maybe explain…if I can.  First, I’m not delusional.  I’m aware they are not real and totally the creations of Diana Gabaldon’s prolific imagination.  Second, I think my ability to write about her characters as if they were real people could be seen as a tribute to her skill. She has written characters of such depth that she has made it possible to analyze their personalities.  I’ve read some of what she has said about her writing process and I know that she “listens” to her characters. To say I am jealous would be a bit of an understatement!   They speak to her and appear to act out of their own values and personalities.  The more I write about her writing the more I understand how truly gifted she is and the more intimidated I become!  It hasn’t stopped me from trying to write, but wow…just wow.

Diana posted an article I’d written about Claire and womanhood on her Facebook page (how totally freakin awesome is that?)  I wrote about Claire being a wonderful example of a woman of worth and substance. Her acceptance of herself and all that means to her life is what I’m still thinking about today. Specifically, I’m thinking of her knowing she was meant to heal and her decision to become a doctor in a time when women just didn’t do  that.

Anytime a women decides to do something as monumental and time-consuming as becoming a doctor they must consider the cost.  They just do.  Fair or not fair, women have biological clocks that have expiration dates. Many women who seek extremely time-consuming careers choose to delay starting a family or know their choice will leave them with precious little time to be with their loved ones. It’s a no-win situation for women, as both choices require a sacrifice.

I find when I read Diana’s stories it is easy to make parallels with real life.  I have a cousin who obtained her dream job of being a college Sociology professor. Her husband worked in the world of business and finance.  Like many of us they started a family and balanced parenthood with full-time jobs.  Their second child was born and it soon became obvious that their newest had special needs and would require full-time care.

May we ALL..find a partner in life… like my cousin’s husband.  I’m sure they had exhausted all options and had finally come to the conclusion that one of them needed to stay home with their child.  When the time came to have “the conversation”, my cousin’s husband told her that he would stay home because, “I  just have a job, but you have a job you love”.  He understood the sacrifice would be too great for his wife.  I can’t even imagine her relief and gratitude.   In a society where a man’s job often defines him, this man chose to be a father and husband first. His insight into his wife’s needs and then…his actions based on that knowledge showed him to be a very wise man indeed.

In Claire’s case, she already has a child and a husband when she chooses to pursue her passion. Throughout the books, Frank is portrayed as the stereotypical 1950’s man.  He has bought into the nuclear family status quo. He has every intention of bringing home the bacon and letting Claire fry it up in the pan. She is taking up a study of medicinal herbs as a hobby to fill the void of no longer nursing.  We aren’t privy to any conversation that lead to this decision; we just know that it is true. Can you imagine Claire as a housewife only? Me either.

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In Voyager, Claire has returned to Frank, but she has not returned to being the little woman.  She knows she is meant to heal and this changes everything for her.  Claire isn’t cooperating with the role to which she had been assigned. Instead, she is breaking the gender mold, pushing the envelope, and is wholly unapologetic.  His wife has returned, but she is not the woman he went on a second honeymoon with to Scotland. Claire is there in the 1950’s, but she left her heart in the 1750’s.

Upon her return, Claire offers Frank a divorce, but they are Catholic and have a daughter (Frank gets mega bonus points from me for loving this child). Given the time period and Claire’s resignation to her loss of Jamie, and the fact that Frank isn’t a “Cad”, they stay together. I can only imagine Frank’s consternation and frustration.

Frank…I’m still not sure I’ve figured this man out. In my opinion, he is one of the most enigmatic characters in the series.  I’ve run the gamut of dislike to pity to admiration with this man. And,…just when I think I understand him, Diana throws in a moment like the moment my cousins must have had…things have come to a boil and Claire and Frank have “the conversation”…

Claire is late coming home from the hospital…again. Fed up, Brianna’s babysitter leaves the child alone and Brianna goes looking for her mother. She is hit by a car. Thankfully, her injuries are not severe, but this close call causes Claire to question (I’m sure not for the first time)  her decision to leave her child in the care of a yet another stranger while she pursues her medical degree. The cost has become too great and she tells Frank she is going to quit. He could have let her. He didn’t.

“I can’t stand leaving Bree, and not knowing if she’s well cared for-and knowing she isn’t happy.  You know she doesn’t really like any of the sitters we’ve tried.”

“I know that, yes.”… he said, “But I don’t think you should resign.”

…”You don’t?”

“Ah, Claire.” He spoke impatiently, but with a tinge of affection nonetheless.  “You’ve known forever who you are. Do you realize at all how unusual it is to know that?”

…”No, I suppose not,” he said.

…”I haven’t got that, ” he said quietly at last.  ‘I’m good, all right.  At what I do– the teaching, the writing.  Bloody splendid sometimes, in fact.  And I like it a good bit, enjoy what I do.  But the thing is–”  He hesitated,then looked at me straight on, hazel-eyed and earnest.  “I could do something else, and be as good.  Care as much, or as little. I haven’t got that absolute conviction that there’s something in life I’m meant to do — and you have.”

He goes on to tell her that having her kind of passion is very rare and wonders if some people are born with that passion or just find it along the way. He also  feels the need to warn her.

” But Claire–“…”They paid for it”…

Claire nods her head in agreement and feels the despair of failure.  She believes she has made a mess of everything; her career, motherhood, and her role as Frank’s wife.  And then, he does the last thing she expects, he says…

“I’ll take Bree.”

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I’ve always been willing to give Jamie the benefit of a doubt. After all, he’s an 18th century man and we can’t expect him to have the same sensibilities as a modern man. So, when Jamie rises above his 18th century upbringing, we are in awe and love him for his open mind and heart.  Why I can’t seem to cut Frank the same break is something I might want to take a closer look at.  After all, Frank is a man of his time period as well. We admire Jamie for his ability to express what he feels.  However, I was recently reminded that MOST men are unable to express their feelings as poetically as Jamie.  That doesn’t mean they feel less. And, despite Frank’s stiff British upper lip and his 1950’s male perspective (remember when he thought Claire did nothing all day because she was home with the baby?) He seems to do the honorable thing…often.

I would love to say that his choice was made solely because of his love and understanding of Claire.  That isn’t exactly the feeling I get when I read this scene. His wisdom seems tempered with reality rather than love.  He knows Claire is meant to heal and recognizes that life will just be easier for them all if he just steps up to the plate…I think. But, there is another side of me that says no matter how the choice is presented, he still made the choice and allowed Claire to be exactly who she is.  He overcomes his own 1950’s gender expectations and sensibilities. He loves her even if he does think she’s a pain in the arse. (sounds pretty familiar to me!)   It’s not easy loving Claire!  There is a price to be paid for passion and for loving a special woman.  Frank’s wisdom in this situation should be a lesson to us all.

Outlander: Even the animals are well written! …how does she do that!?

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imageWe all know Diana writes characters that are so fleshed out they could walk off the page. The people in her series have depth and dimension, but they aren’t the only ones. Her animals are characters in their own right. They have personalities and play an important role in the telling of her tales.  Tell the truth… how many of you cried ugly tears when Rollo died?  Raising my hand right along with you! (While I wipe away some fresh tears) Even the animals can make me cry…good grief, I’m a goner.

Let’s start with Donas: It seems that Jamie is always coupled with a spirited horse.  Donas’ role in this story is to add to Jamie’s character development.  Jamie has the touch. He is able to control a high-spirited horse without breaking its spirit.  In a sense, Jamie’s patience and tolerance allows Donas to be the horse he was meant to be.  (Seeing any correlation?) With the wrong handler things could have gone a much different way.  Jamie’s fear for little Hamish getting near Donas is very real, Donas bites!  This animal could have remained a beast that everyone feared and his potential would have been lost.  But, instead, Jamie admires Donas for his strength and heart.  Jamie’s efforts with Donas pay dividends when The horse makes it possible for him to rescue Claire. “Lord that’s a good horse”, exclaims Jamie.

Gideon: The other spirited horse. I love this horse because it takes all that Jamie has to control him.  Jamie’s reaction to this horse is quite funny.  He’d put him down, but his own sense of waste is affronted! So….the struggle continues!  And it is a delight to read.

Rollo: Wolf brother. Boon companion.  Best friend.  These names come to mind when I think of Rollo.  Leave it to Diana to create a dog that is out of the ordinary.  Rollo is a wolf/dog half-breed who catches fish.  Lean and lanky and fiercely loyal, (Remind you of anyone?) Rollo makes Ian his master and friend.  I say make because given the reaction most people have to this fierce looking animal, I can’t picture this alpha dog letting anyone tell him what to do.  He’s his own man. I mean dog <g>. From the moment they meet, young Ian and Rollo are by each other’s side. Like Ian who is always at Jamie’s weak side, Rollo protects young Ian.  I believe they truly are brothers in spirit.  They commune without saying a word.

Clarence the mule:  I love this guy! A non-stubborn friendly mule!  He’s the stand-in alarm system and welcome wagon to The Ridge. Claire describes Clarence’s hee-haw as a joyous sound!  Or, at least, SHE hears Clarence’s joy.  Not sure what visitors hear!  Sweet spirited Clarence and his dependability become a part of Jamie and Clair’s life and therefore, part of their family.  And he’s happy to be there.  I can feel Claire’s excitement when Clarence lets everyone know they are close to home and I want to hug his neck.

The White Sow:  We probably have family members just like the white sow!  You know… people you can’t live with, but you can’t live without?  She’s bossy, cantankerous and down right mean, but she keeps the family in an embarrassing amount of pork!  Year after year! (Although Jamie can’t imagine what pig would have the balls to mate with her) Nobody likes her, but everybody respects her.  She just pushes her way into whatever and wherever she wants including Claire’s pantry. And….I’m thinking the Indians might be right; she might be a demon.  I can just picture her walking out from under the house covered in ashes giving herself a good shake and moving on as if nothing had happened!  Gotta be a possum out there somewhere that she can put in her maw.

Adso the cat:  Jamie found him in the woods under a bush, a fierce and proud little fur ball.  But, Jamie’s magic touch soon has him purring. (Once again…sound like anyone we know?)  I’ve heard Jamie say he’d like to treat Claire like a little kitten he can pet and keep in his shirt.  Cats in general are aloof and Adso, like Claire, is a pretty good judge of character.  He doesn’t just give his love to anyone.  He’s also one tough tiny kitten who doesn’t seem to know how small he is. Which is both amusing and admirable.  Adso keeps our Claire company.  He shadows her moves and always seems available for a one-sided chat.  Adso also has a few comic incidents with Major MacDonald and his wig!

Buton: This beloved dog is quite the character! Buton is constantly described as an odd looking dog who might have gotten more than his share of the Heinz 57 variety.  We’ve all heard the stories of dogs with cancer sniffing skills. Well, apparently this dog was waaaaay ahead of the curve in the use of his nose for diagnostic purposes.  I chuckled everytime Buton jumped on to a patient’s bed and began to sniff.  Shocked and baffled are what must have been the two most frequent reactions!  What a wonderful quirky interesting animal!

And…Ping the peaceful one:  We were treated to a pelican training. Who wasn’t  just amazed by Mr. Willoughby and his fishing bird.  Once again, wonderful, quirky, interesting.  And! He saves Claire’s life! A pelican!

I’m not sure this story would be as rich, amusing or as heartwarming if it wasn’t for Jamie and Claire’s animal friends.    I know Ms Gabaldon has a couple of dachshunds she cuddles.  She hasn’t forgotten all the other details that make life interesting and she sure hasn’t left out the companionship, comfort and frustration that animals bring to our lives.  Just another reason to admire and appreciate her skill at telling a story we can see and feel. Sigh….she even writes animals well…

If you haven’t watched Outlander yet…why not?

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As a fan of the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon, I know that the viewers of Outlander on Starz have gotten only a little taste of the adventure, romance and relationships this story has to offer. There are so many characters to meet and so much more to be revealed about those we’ve already met.  So…..I know I am not alone in anxiously awaiting a Season 2 premiere date, however some recent tweet activity has caused me some consternation!  Don’t drop your dram., but..there are people out there who don’t know about the wonderfulness that is Outlander on Starz!

Last year, during the People’s Choice Awards, it was announced that Outlander won the award for best sci-fi series over competition such as Game of Thrones and Dr. Who.  While I was rejoicing on-line with other Outlander fans and tagging my tweets dutifully with #winnerwinnerHaggisdinner, one of my Tweeps posted that she was enjoying reading Twitter feeds from other fan groups.  So, I took a look. They were naturally dismayed that Outlander had beaten their favorite shows, but the tweet that stood out to me was one where the writer said, “I don’t even know the show that WON!”.  With the recent news that received 2016 Golden Globe nods for best drama, actress and supporting actor, I’m hoping that will change.  

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A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON FOR THE UNINITIATED

The news that Outlander was being made into a sixteen episode TV series for Starz was very welcome news to fans of Diana Gabaldon. Ms.Gabaldon’s eight book series based on the adventures of one time travelling WW II nurse, Claire Randall, who finds herself in 1743 Scotland just before the Jacobite rebellion.   The Outlander books are wonderfully detailed historically based epics that are grounded in truths about life, relationships and the nature of love and have been read and reread for over twenty years.

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Diana Gabaldon’s description of what her books are about

The rights to turn the first book into a movie have been sold for just about as long and many script writers have attempted to cram an 800 page book into a two hour movie. Not possible…or desired by most fans.  So, when the news of the series came, coupled with the knowledge that producer Ron Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame, would be at the helm, fans rejoiced! (and it’s rumored that angels wept!)  Finally, maybe the story would be told and fans would get to see their beloved main characters, Jamie and Claire, come to life!

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Critics and entertainment journalists were doubtful that this book to TV adaptation would flourish due to what was perceived as a female-centric audience. The media seemed to believe that the show would only appeal to bored middle-age housewives and was a bodice-ripping romance.  Now that the series has aired 16 episodes the ranks of media/critics seem to have changed their minds and are now singing the praises of Outlander, the entire 1st season is being touted as the most brave and honest show on TV.  Fans of the books are thrilled that the show is being so well received and maybe they are feeling a bit smug.  Afterall, they’ve always known it was a great story! Ye ken?  And really, what’s not to like?

WHAT ABOUT THE ROMANCE?

The tale has been labeled as “genre bending” and for a variety of good reasons.  Fans of the book can assure new viewers that even though there is love story at the center of this tale it goes far beyond a simple romance. The story is full of surprising twists that fly in the face of traditional romance genres. For instance, the traditional romance is stood on its ear with a woman in the role of the experienced lover and her new husband the virgin. The time travel element adds an additional twist.  If you are two hundred years away from your husband who hasn’t been born yet is it cheating if you marry someone else? Claire loves two men and this creates an intriguing problem for her already full plate of problematic situations.

And….the sex!

Starz has done a wonderful job of portraying the sexual relationship between the two main characters.  In fact, there are multiple articles out there written by critics, the media and those interested in the portrayal of sex on T.V. that look at how Outlander Starz writers, directors and producers handled this material.  They found it nothing short of revolutionary.

THIS IS SCI-FI?

Yes, but …gosh …how do I explain this?  The sci-fi element of this story is there. but more as a vehicle to get the heroine of the story into the situation she now finds herself.  She lands 200 years in the past after touching a standing stone. Now, how does she survive long enough to try and return?

The mystery of standing stones is just that a mystery.  We really don’t know what they are or why they are there.  Could the old Celtic stories of people being stolen over by the wee folk might actually be based on an interesting theory of time-travel?  What would you do if you were Claire? The time-travel element is a great backdrop. It is always there….waiting.

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IT’S A RIPPING GOOD YARN!

Fans of Outlander executive producer Ron Moore were at first puzzled and some downright shocked that he took on this material.  The series was being touted in the media as a “romance” and that seemed very far from Ron’s usual projects. Ron simply explained in a press conference that he had read the books and found them to be a “Ripping good yarn”.   This is a story full of adventure, history, surprises and characters with layers and we love Ron for recognizing that it needed to be told in a series. We also love him for talking with the author and staying true to the spirit of the books.  If you like battles, swordplay, chases, political intrigue, hot sex, tender love stories, strong characters, and really nasty villans then you might want to give Outlander a shot.

 

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Because Diana wrote a book….Outlander impacted lives.

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imageI woke this morning to a tweeted response from Diana that cracked me up! She does that a lot. Witty lady is Herself. However, the response back from the man who wrote the post caused me to put my hand over my mouth to swallow a sob. His response was a perfect example of how much Diana’s books can impact people’s lives.

His story was similar to many others I’ve heard.  He said he began watching the show with his wife. He enjoyed it and added that he had begun to read the books. He was amazed there were eight. Diana laughingly responded that he could take his time reading because it takes her awhile to write a new one. I chuckled, but then I read his response. He shared that he suffered from PTSD and watching the show and reading the books have kept his mind busy. He then added that as a result, he didn’t have nightmares last night….I can still feel the lump in my throat. _Amazing_.

People have shared so many of these stories with the fandom. Luanne Uttley and her Outlander found friend from across the sea, Lori Renfro began a Facebook page as a place to collect and share stories of how Outlander has impacted lives. Lori and Luanne’s story is one of those special gifts that the universe can sometimes throw your way.  These two met while discussing their shared love of Outlander on social media. But, they soon discovered that they shared much more than fandom.  Because Diana wrote a book, these two found a support system and a real-life friendship.  To their amazement, they found that they shared a very unique and special sisterhood.  They both were the mothers of daughters who suffered a similar and rare disability.  From half-way around the world they found comfort and kinship. And, maybe the most rewarding thing that happened was that their daughters connected.  The girls share a disability that makes social interaction difficult, but, to their mothers’ amazement and delight they talk on the internet….for hours!

You can read story after story of people who found comfort and distraction from the illness and tragedy in their lives because they read Diana’s books. People who found the courage to stand up to an abuser. People whose marriages were saved or enriched because of the relationship they saw shared between Jamie and Claire. People who actually changed the course of their lives because what they read inspired them to take a risk.

Personally, these books inspired me to begin writing. I’m constantly finding some new truth about life in Diana’s stories to expound on! And, I’m learning a lot because Diana is wonderful at sharing her accumulated knowledge, especially about the craft of writing! Writing has brought me a lot of joy and a social life! Love to  talk and share ideas with other fans.

Because Diana wrote a book, I have gained real-life friends who share a love of Outlander and writing. I want to emphasize the “real-life” part of that statement because I didn’t expect it.  I was enjoying talking with other fans on social media , but I never expected that interaction to lead to real relationships.  One particular fan has become a particular friend, Connie Hertsenberg.  We actually got to meet at an Emulsion screening in Columbus. She gave me the best hug I’ve ever had! No really! Great hugger that Connie. We found we had so much in common that we decided to meet up for dinner with husbands in tow.  They got along too! She has been a constant supporter and a loyal friend. Truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, when I was sick all the #cgng girls and other folks from around the country and world were so supportive. I got cards, phone calls, messages and I even got a bouquet of flowers from “Jamie” with a card expressing his desire that I be the last girl he kissed! (Still don’t know who sent that).  This has been an unexpected, but enriching experience.

If you’d like to read some stories about how Diana and her books have affected people’s lives go to Luanne and Lori’s web page on Facebook; All Because Diana Wrote A Book.  Believe me they are well worth the read. You might even be inspired to write your own story about how Diana’s books have affected your life.  You might even want to send Diana a thank you note <g>.