Voyager (1994) is Diana Gabaldon’s third book in her Outlander series with Claire and Jamie. I flew through Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber even as I realized they had some problems, but this one finally slowed me down. I started reading it back in December and skipped around to many other books while I was pushing through it. Like all of Gabaldon’s books, a lot happens in this one. For all intents and purposes, it is impossible to review Voyager without spoilers to the first two books. And while I’m at it, I may as well spoil the hell out of Voyager as well.
So, we find out that Jamie barely survived Culloden. After making it home, he hides out in a cave in Lallybroch for seven [?] years. And then he gives himself up for the reward money and goes to prison where he meets Lord John Grey. John Grey falls in love with Jamie because Jamie is irresistible and saves him from transport to America when the prison is closed. Jamie is sent to work as a servant at a rich home in England where he fathers a son with the daughter of the house. Eventually he makes it home, marries Laoghaire [what!?!], and becomes a printer and smuggler in Edinburgh.
Jump two hundred years into the future and Claire’s been busy herself. She gave birth to Jamie’s daughter, struggled to live with Frank, and became a doctor. When Frank dies and her daughter, Bree, graduates from high school, Claire heads back to Scotland where she discovers with Roger’s help that Jamie is still alive and probably living in Edinburgh. At this point, she leaves her life–this time by choice–and goes to find Jamie.
I really enjoyed this part of the book–for the most part. The trick was that I jumped ahead and read Jamie and Claire’s reunion. When I knew when and how they found each other again, I could relax and read the build up with more patience. And it was fascinating to finally find out what had happened in those missing twenty years. The only thing that bothered me was Claire’s leaving Bree. Claire kept saying, “Oh, she’s an adult now and she has Roger.” Of course she doesn’t want to leave her, but seriously? Bree is a teenager who just lost her dad and found out she has a different father living in the past. Sure, she has Roger, who the reader can guess will be important to her, but this is a guy she’s known for a week or two. At the very least, I needed more acknowledgment of what she was doing. I also didn’t see how Bree, Roger, and Claire–all living in the same house–could sneak out to the stones without hearing each other.
After Claire and Jamie meet up, it is nonstop adventure with smuggling, prostitutes, slavery, cross-atlantic travel, deadly illness, and shipwrecks. Jamie’s nephew, Ian, is kidnapped by ship and Jamie and Claire take after him, afraid of the wrath of Jenny. The search for Ian spurs the book to its conclusion.
I think I’ve figured out what I like and dislike about Gabaldon’s books. I really enjoy her writing, her word choice, and her descriptions. I am never bored while reading about the day-to-day lives of Jamie and Claire. However, I often have a problem with her big picture plotting. Recalling the larger plot points make me groan. Of all the women in Scotland, Jamie marries Laoghaire? What are the chances that Laoghaire would even end up near Lallybroch after Culloden? And why wouldn’t Claire mention at some point that the reason she was disobeying Jamie again and visiting Geillis was because Laighaire sent her that note? I think there could have been better and more realistic drama if Jamie had married that woman he slept with in the cave. We don’t need all the characters to follow us through the entire series.
The coincidences quickly became too much. Jamie and Claire jumped off two different ships into the ocean and ended up in the same place. The first person Claire meets in a deserted part of Haiti [?–Sometimes I don’t pay too close attention to locations] is the naturalist that Jamie had happened to meet in Edinburgh. Later, it appears that Claire’s only real friend from the future just happened to be descended from slaves on a plantation that Geillis had taken over. I felt like there were approximately ten people in the entire world and they all kept running into each other. I also felt some of the depictions of Mr. Willoughby and some of the slaves felt a little dated and uncomfortable. Even all of Gabaldon’s gay men seemed to have “long lashes that fell across their face.”
Finally, that whole thing with Geillis? Geillis was a good, creepy character, but I was kind of happy to be finished with her in the second book. But now she’s moved to Hispaniola and is kidnapping young Scottish virgin lads to rape them and kill them? Wouldn’t it be easier to rape young lads who lived a little closer? And she’s planning something with Bree? Claire seems to think she’s gone crazy from all her STD’s, but does that really explain anything? I have one last question. Jamie is a wanted man and is trying to avoid British territories, but he’s okay with being in Georgia, another British colony?
I have heard that these books are just going to get longer, but I’ll keep reading them, eventually, even if I am sometimes frustrated.
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