"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review #4: Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon

The second book in Diana Gabaldon's best-selling Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber opens in present day (well, late 1960s, I think, if I do the math correctly, but more present day than eighteenth century). Claire has returned to Scotland after her husband Frank's death, and she's brought her daughter, tall red haired Brianna, with her. The trip is ostensibly a mother-daughter vacation, but Claire is actually looking for a way to tell Brianna that her real father is Jamie Fraser, the man Claire married in Scotland...two hundred years ago.

Exiled from Scotland, Jamie and Claire find their way to France, where Jaime is to take over temporarily for his cousin Jared, a wealthy, well-connected wine merchant. Together, they enter a world of court espionage and intrigue, working to foil Bonnie Prince Charlie's attempts to take the Scottish throne. The reader is introduced to Lord John Grey (a character who spawned his own series), Fergus, a young, nimble French boy rescued from a brothel (and the evils of Jack Randall), and Geillis Duncan, a woman who has a secret just as shocking as Claire's.

But Claire and Jamie's attempts to thwart the rebellion and the subsequent slaughter of the Scottish clans appear unsuccessful, and suddenly they find themselves on the field at Culloden, where so many Scots are to die. Jamie, resigned to his fate, forces Claire back through the stones, where she returns to her life with Frank, pregnant with Jamie's daughter.

This second installment wanders a bit more than the first, but Jamie and Claire's love story is just as intense as when we first met them in Outlander. They come together and fall apart, but they always, always are connected. Once again, theirs is a true partnership, one that stands out even more starkly against the backdrop of a time when women were not seen as equals. And their love is one that, quite literally, stands the test of time.

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