“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” ~ Richard Bach
“The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends.” ~ B. R. Amedkar
“For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary.” ~ Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
I honestly can’t remember if I’ve written about the Outlander series before now. Barry and I binge watched season three recently, which made me want to write something about what I know of the story so far.
I can’t think of any exceptional stories that are NOT about relationships. Even movies like Castaway, where the main character is alone for most of the movie, has the heartache of a loving relationship interrupted. Outlander has that element to it as well, with a little twist.
I once heard, or maybe I read it, Diana Gabaldon say that she wanted to write about a fifty year marriage. That’s one of the things I love about this series. In general, I’m not a huge fan of romance novels mostly because they end shortly after the wedding. We don’t get to see the couple dealing with the ups and downs of their relationship. But the Outlander series is full of fights, and make ups, danger and heartaches that need to be resolved. I love that.
Though romance, and lots of sex, are a big part of Outlander, that is not the only focus of the series. It’s category is hard to define. It’s historical, with time travel, and paranormal aspects to it. Readers get to learn practical things such as medicinal plants and other healing techniques. There are lots of heart wrenching events and fun adventure too. At the heart of it all, are Claire and Jamie Fraser.
The series begins with Claire Randall just returning from being a combat nurse during WW II. She and her husband Frank, are in Scotland on a second honeymoon trying to get reacquainted after so many years apart. While in Scotland, Claire and Frank secretly attend a ceremony at some nearby standing stones. While there, Claire sees a plant she wants to study and goes back the next day to get it. When she approaches the stones, she hears voices emanating from them. Curious about the voices, she touches one of the stones and is transported to the 1740s. Disoriented about what has happened to her, she is plunged into immediate danger when she meets a man who looks exactly like Frank. A group of Scots save her from being raped. And that’s when she meets Jamie. The first thing she has to do upon meeting him is to save his arm from much more serious injury by his friends. She resets his dislocated shoulder, much to the amazement of the gathered men.
Claire is immediately taken away from the stones to an estate a few days away. She has no idea how she will get back to the stones so she can return to Frank. And she must conceal who she is and why she’s dressed so strangely. This makes her mission to return extremely difficult. The Laird of the manor does not trust her. Nor does anyone else, which isolates her.
Against all odds, she and Jamie form a friendship. Her healing skills come in handy, and eventually gain her a measure of trust. But later, to protect her from Black Jack Randall, the man who nearly raped her, she must marry Jamie. Though Frank will not be born for two-hundred years in the future, Claire is torn. She’s attracted to Jamie, but her heart is still with Frank back in her own time period. However, an undeniable bond forms between the newlyweds, which further confuses Claire.
Of course, danger is never far away and there are bumps in Jamie and Claire’s relationship since they are from two different time periods. Claire never gives in to Jamie or any of the other men. And slowly, Jamie accepts that Claire is a strong minded, independent, educated, capable women a fact that attracts him more than he’s, at first, willing to admit. Claire is also a healer, kind and knowledgeable. She saves lives and since she’s seen more death than anyone else in her new time period, she knows how to ease the passing of those she can’t save. This earns her respect that she might not have had otherwise.
I read the first four books before the series even came into existence. I love this new trend of paying particular attention to themes of the source material for television series like Outlander. The producers, directors and writers take great care with each episode, and while some of the situations are slanted differently than the way Diana Gabladon created them, the overall look and feel of the visual series is closely related to the book series and make compelling television viewing. The two versions of the story enhance each other. I love that.
I realized just now that maybe I really wrote this post because I’m working on a section of my next novel in which Jenna and Jack have some issues to work out. It’s difficult for me because I, like most new novelists, want my characters to be perfect. But as great stories like Outlander show us, real to life characters dealing with their problems is much more interesting than fluffy, syrupy sweet stories are. I’d much rather read or watch stories where the characters go through tough times, and come out the other side changed for the better, than one where the characters aren’t challenged in anyway. I aspire to write satisfying stories where the characters learn from their trials and help the reader gain insights as well.
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it very much.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.