I did the thing where the second I was done with book two, I immediately picked up book three. I would be reading book four right now, but I have to read some other things for school first, but that’s maybe a good thing to step away for a minute.
Book three is a shift in the narrative in some significant ways. In book two, Claire and her daughter (Jamie’s daughter) have returned to Scotland in 1968 for various reasons. One reason is that Roger Wakefield has told Claire that he believes he has information confirming that Jamie survived the battle and might even be able to be located. Another is for Brianna to see Scotland, her ancestral home. There’s other reasons later that aren’t revealed yet, and of course there’s plenty of plot reasons.
Claire is in her forties now (I think mid to late), which would mean if time passes relatively in the past, Jamie would be in his late thirties. And he is, and we know this because the novel spends a long time with Jamie’s story catching us up to the “present” day. Jamie survived the battle, lived in a cave for years, and eventually turns himself in once the hanging is no longer the go-to punishment, and spends a few years in prison, where he befriends Lord John Grey, who was a boy last we saw him in a pivotal moment of book two. This recurrence of Lord Grey is consequential to many plot elements moving forward.
Anyway, once we get caught up, we understand that Claire will be headed back to Jamie once she’s set up her daughter financially and possibly romantically, and has her blessing. She doesn’t know what awaits her in Scotland, and when she arrives, she finds Jamie working in a printing shop in Edinburgh (among other activities) and it seems they might simply be able to jump back in. In a moment reminiscent of Watson fainting when Holmes comes back, Jamie faints when he sees Claire. We also learn that we don’t exactly what Jamie’s been up to in his recent past, and this revelation is important to both us and Claire.
As things wind their way forward, there’s reason for Claire and Jamie to make their way to the New World, specifically the West Indies, and beyond. A lot happens in this book, as it’s continuing the trend of each book being longer than the last, but it’s pretty rich and rewarding of a story.
It’s hard not to wonder how much of these books are planned out or how much of them is shaped after the fact. One of the late reasons Claire leaves the US for Scotland feels like it might have been invented to clear a plot hurdle more than something initially planned out. There’s also times where Gabaldan throws in some connective tissue that is probably too coincidental for the plot, but it does allow the tv show to cast the same actors to play multiple roles, which is fun of course.
It gets a little uncomfortably racist in this book with Willoughby and some of the New World stuff (not to mention a lot of talk about “Jews”).
It gets plenty uncomfortably homophobic as well. It already was in the first book, and I think it’s worse now.