Goodreads summary: “Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.
Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.”
This series is RIDICULOUS! I mean that in a good way, but also in a way.
One thing that remains abundantly clear by the end of this third massive book is that Diana Gabaldon worships at the altar of Murphy’s Law. Everything happens in these books… EVERYTHING. An abbreviated list of some of Voyager’s more imaginative plot points includes pirates, fiery murder, smuggling, the resurgence of another thought-to-be-dead character, grievous sea-storm related injuries, a typhoid epidemic, blackmail, illegitimate love-children, the resurgence of characters we were happy to forget, some Gilligan’s Island shenanigans, brutal racial stereotypes, and witchcraft. And that’s the short list!
A great many of the things that transpire are utterly unbelievable, but the book remains grounded, in some part, by the love story between Claire and Jamie. Their reunion is romantic and heartbreaking: they’re both clearly overwhelmed and in disbelief to see each other in the flesh after twenty years apart, and those twenty years have, in no small measure, put distance in between them that they have to overcome. As infuriating as it was that both parties at first withheld some of the more controversial aspects of their lives apart, causing tension down the road, it did read as fairly realistic. No one opens with, “Well, let’s see, my one true love for whom I’ve been desperately pining, I did father the child of a 17-year-old, and what else – I am married to your nemesis! Good times, right?”
Unwelcome revelations aside, these two have a beautiful chemistry. That, and Gabaldon’s tendency to absolutely race through a panoply of plot points, made Voyager a rather engaging read. I admit to looking forward warily at this point, toward what I feel will inevitably include more extensive coverage of Brianna and Roger Wakefield (which is fine for my taste, as long as she, you know, keeps it interesting) and Lord John Grey (who seems very sweet but in whom I’m ultimately uninterested.) While I have nothing against long books in and of themselves, I’m picking up on a pattern indicating that Gabaldon seems to think that each new installment needs to be in the ballpark of 1000 pages, and that since the two leads are already coupled, she needs to insert them into increasingly absurd scenarios (and an astonishing number of them) in order to keep their story interesting. Far be it for me to criticize a template that’s working very well for the success of the series, but I can’t help but feeling like shorter, tighter stories would be just as rewarding – and come off as much less soapy – than the dense volumes she seems to prefer.