Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fighthing Fate in 18th Century Scotland

Fate and inevitability play a large role in Diana Gabaldon's book Dragonfly in Amber.  The second in a series about Claire Randall Fraser, a mid-20th century woman transported back to 18th century Scotland, Dragonfly in Amber picks up the story of Claire and her Sottish husband Jamie.  Claire knows that Jamie and thousands of other Highland Scots are to be slaughtered in the Battle of Culloden, fought on behalf of Bonnie Prince Charlie in a failed attempt to restore the Stuarts to the throne of England and Scotland.  She and Jamie race to try and stop the coming war, first in Paris where Prince Charles is waiting to return to Scotland, and again in Edinburgh.  But nothing, not even the foreknowledge of what will happen, can turn the tide of history in the Scots' favor.

Like her first novel, Outlander, this book is rich in historical detail, and intricate in plot.  In a previous post, I complained of how long it took me to read it, because that level of detail requires the reader to really slow down and take it all in.  It is full of political machinations, betrayals, unkept promises, and the hubris of the nobility.  Add to the complex plot the many details about life in 18th century France and Scotland, and the descriptions of the medical care that Claire gives in her role as a healer, and you have a fully formed world that draws you in.  The romance between Claire and Jamie is besides the point to me, other than as a catalyst for some of Claire's decisions regarding staying in Scotland or trying to stop duels...Claire herself is the reason that I kept reading.  And I am so grateful to Ms. Gabaldon that she set this series in a time period I know very little about.  While I love my Tudor and Elizabethan period pieces, I am happy to have knowledge of another era of UK history.

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