Ever the model of restraint, I took a wee break in between finishing object of my obsession Outlander and starting this, Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the series. And what do you know! The book starts back in 1968, after twenty years of Claire having lived with her first husband, Frank Randall, and raising their daughter, Brianna.
“WHAT?” I cried, tempted to chuck this brick of a book across the room. And then I kept reading.
Make no mistake: Diana Gabaldon is playing the long game. There is no shortage, from my understanding, of Claire and Jamie Fraser getting into hairy situations together in the upcoming novels, but in the meantime, what better way to up the ante on an epic love story spanning centuries than by separating the lovers in time by the very mechanism that allowed them to find each other? And that’s what happened.
In 1968, Claire and her daughter, Brianna, return to Inverness. Claire has decided to come clean to Brianna about her past, disclosing secrets that deeply affect Brianna as well, because, well…
Frank Randall, YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER.
From there, as Claire begins to tell her story to Brianna and to new Convenient Historian Roger Wakefield, we enter the flashback zone. It picks up more or less where Outlander left off, with Claire and Jamie in Paris, attempting to covertly thwart the second Jacobite uprising and prevent the annihilation of the majority of Highland clans. As the story unwinds, we are drawn, anxious, toward the inevitable conclusion where Claire and Jamie are torn apart. That this plot device is very frequently used by storytellers to ratchet up tension does not in any way diminish its effectiveness here, as I had to slap my own hand on multiple occasions to keep from spoiling myself by turning toward the end of the book.
In terms of what I didn’t like about the first book (not much; it boils down to gratuitous sexual violence) there is more of the same here. Otherwise, everything else that I did like was also still present here: both Claire and Jamie’s clever humor and resourcefulness, their steamy charisma as a couple, and the excellent historical drama. One thing I will say: I feel like I had heard a great fuss made over the amount of sex in these books, and I have to say that I feel like there honestly isn’t that much? Maybe it’s because I’ve read stuff like this, but what is present seems VERY tasteful, or even “fade to black” much of the time. In any case, I’m certainly never going to turn down a Jamie Fraser kilt drop.
I am taking another short hiatus before starting Voyager, but I have so many questions and needs I can’t stand it! This series is addictive!
And this is going to be my final review for this Cannonball. Toward the end of the year is that time where I like to revisit some of the books I really enjoyed in the past year and take a break from poor writing. Thank you everyone who read and commented on my reviews, and thank you MsWas for organizing this year’s Cannonball! It’s truly become one of my greatest pleasures to read so much again and participate in this community. Can’t wait to see what you all are reading next year!