Monday, July 2, 2012

Read Along of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Part 3

This week we read Chapters 14 to 21. The Questions were provided by Tangled Up Blue

If you visit Into the Hall of Books, you will find the questions for next week and a list of links to this week’s answers.

1) We FINALLY get to the scene we've all been waiting for. You know what I'm talking about--yay sexytimes! What were your impressions? Was it what you were expecting? Or did you want more? 

I was slightly surprised that there was so little description for any of the encounters we have seen so far, which was almost anticlimactic. I appreciated the slow build up as it seemed very natural, but then we went very quickly from chatting to the discreet break while they did IT. I definitely expected more description of the foreplay, if not the sex itself.

I am very impressed by Jamie’s stamina and I am not certain how Claire is managing to sit on her horse, but the constant sex seems a bit odd, considering their circumstances. It made sense whilst they were still at the inn, but after a long day travelling I was surprised that she did not just tell him to take a cool dip! I was also disappointed that Jamie turned out to be an amazing lover at first attempt: it would have been much more realistic if he had been more hesitant and less skillful. It would also have allowed a little more character development if she had needed to give him more direction about to please her. I guess his previous experience might have been almost full sex, but not all women react in the same way, so I would have liked him to be humbled a little.

As a point of interest the Scots word ‘oxter’ means ‘armpit’, just in case you were wondering what exactly Jamie was rubbing all over his horses’ faces!

2) I know that some readers thus far have been bothered by the fact of Claire being married to Frank but still being involved with Jamie, despite the different time periods. Does their time as newlyweds change anyone's opinion of that? If not, now what are you thinking of the situation?  

Nope: I still think Claire is being unfaithful, and I was disappointed to read her account of ‘infatuations’ during the war. It is one thing to be attracted to someone and quite another to act upon that feeling. Knowing that she allowed her feelings to move her part way towards adultery during the war made it much easier for me to believe how easily she accepted Jamie into her bed. They could have easily faked consummation if she had resisted the idea, but she was quite willing.

If she had accepted her place in the past as a permanent then it would be easier to accept her actions, but she is still actively trying to return to Frank. This makes her adultery unacceptable in my eyes.

3) What did you think about the "waterhorse" that Claire saw? Why do you think Peter was so spooked? And what do you think this means for Claire? 

The myth of the Loch Ness Monster is very ancient, so I was not really surprised to see it mentioned, although I thought that making it a real creature went a little far. The suggestion seems to be that Claire identifies it as a plesiosaur, which has been one of the more popular ‘identifications’ offered for Nessie.

I can understand why Peter would be shocked to see this beast in the water, as it is not supposed to exist except as a story to keep children away from the dangers of the loch. He seemed to think that Claire was speaking to it or had summoned it, which seems like a totally absurd idea to me, but suggests that he mistrusts her and believes her capable of anything. This places her in a dangerous situation.

4) If you were Claire and you were knowingly in the vicinity of the stones, would you have done the same thing she did?  

Certainly, though I do not think that I would have tried to travel down the river in my skirts. It was only a matter of time before she fell in and I was surprised that she didn’t break her ankle or knock herself out and then drown.

5) What do you think about Captain Randall? How do you think the family resemblance between him and Frank affects Claire and particularly her relationship with Jamie? 

I find him somewhat two-dimensional. He is a cardboard cutout villain with no particular reason to behave as he does. I am hoping that we see a little character development for him, or some explanation for why he behaves as he does.

His great similarity to Frank is a problem for Claire as it reminds her that she is being unfaithful, which seems to make her uneasy. As it should!


  1. Armpit! I had no idea. Thanks for that - I was picturing something much less pleasant. :)

  2. Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)July 2, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    I had forgotten about the war infatuations until you mentioned it just now! And you know, she went out of her way to tell Frank she had been faithful to him. But I kind of count what she did as not faithful, if I'm remembering correctly... (which I may not be)

    For some reason, reading about evil villains usually doesn't bother me. But Randall really does. I'm not sure if normally the worst villains to me are the dystopian ones and Randall is historical, so he seems more real? At any case, I think he's just awful and it makes me squirm when I'm reading his scenes. So unusual for me. 

  3. I wondered what the reference to "the latin name" meant! I did think it was a real animal, though, and I have this funny feeling that she's going to be on trial sometime for witchcraft or something and Peter will bring it up again. I mean, she wouldn't set apart a chapter for it if it wasn't important, right?

  4. That's why I mentioned it: it did read like it meant something far more intimate! :D

  5. It's not that Randall is evil, it's that he is just evil: I would like to see a bit more depth to his character.

  6. Oppsie: what Ms Gabaldon meant was it's Greek name: as I scientist she should know that Latin names are for plants, Greek for animals! 

    I am not sure why Peter would think that she had any control over it, but he would perhaps expect her to run screaming in the opposite direction rather than being calm, so I agree: I predict a witch trail in the near future.

  7. Alyssa @ Books Take You PlacesJuly 2, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    I agree and thought the sexytimes were going to be a bit more detailed but I kinda like that they weren't since it really made me feel more for their relationship in addition to the ya know, "good stuff!!" I also have to say that I definitely was wondering how the f she is staying up on the horse in light of all their rolls in the hay..I was so turned off to Claire after this week and I can't stand how she went on her own to the stones. IDIOT!

  8. I didn't think Jamie was immediately a great lover. Claire kind of eluded to it.."There was a powerful urgency in him that roused me to response despite his awkwardness. Not wanting to lecture nor yet to highlight my own experience, I let him do what he would, only offering an occasional suggestion...As yet too hungry and too clumsy for tenderness, still he made love with a sort of unflagging joy...". I think Claire is more caught up in Jamie's joy, strength, safety all that is him than his skill in the nether regions.

  9. Yeah. The whole escape scene was a poor move on Claire's part. She's usually so rational, but everything she did there was stupid. Of course it was going to end in disaster. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who is still a bit bothered that Claire is married to Frank. He is definitely becoming a distant thought in my mind, bit I'm betting that he comes back around again. Even so, I like Jamie soooo much better! 

  10. I would be a lot less upset about Frank if Claire had made the decision to abandon all hope of returning to him, but she still seems determined to try for some reason. It just seems very selfish on her part. 

  11. I agree that it was good to see some emotional bonding before they got down to the sex, but I didn't really get the sensual build up that I thought would be presented. It seemed to move from getting to know you straight to the fade out, which left me feeling a bit disappointed.

  12. I was, in fact, wondering what Jamie was rubbing all over his horses' faces, so thanks for that.

    And yeah, I was disappointed to read about her infatuations during the war as well.  She got awfully huffy and insulted when Frank insinuated that she may have had an affair, and yet in my mind, kissing other men (which she seems to have done) is adulterous--not just sex.

  13. I agree: the emotional betrayal of falling for another person is just as bad as having meaningless sex.


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