Monday again 🙁 But for the first time in what feels like forever, I actually relaxed this weekend! I did some much needed show-binging, went shopping and Sunday I got so much reading done! Is it weird that makes me feel seriously productive?
I was feeling determined to finish Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon, by the end of the weekend because much like that bubbling-over feeling you get when you can’t find time to write, I felt like it had been forever since I got to sit down and just read for hours, uninterrupted. Since I finally had the time, I sped through the last couple hundred pages.
Anyway, while the story is still fresh in my mind, I wanted to give you guys my review of Dragonfly in Amber – plus throw in my thoughts of the second season of Outlander!
OH!! Before I forget, something else amazing happened this weekend – The Bookish Wanderer officially has surpassed 500 followers. It’s been crazy to see the follower count rise since I started this blog back in February. You guys are all wonderful for giving my little corner of the internet your time and reading what I have to say <3 I made this blog public after my grandmother became ill for a time and I needed something to take my mind off how stressful things had gotten so this space – and talking to all of you – became very therapeutic for me. And it still is! Thank you so much for welcoming me into this amazing blogging community <3
With that said…onto the review! PS. Spoilers lie ahead!!
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Dragonfly In Amber
“For nearly twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones… about a love that transcends the boundaries of time… and about Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart… in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising… and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.” – Goodreads
When I first picked up Dragonfly, I was dying to pick up right where the first book left off. If you read my review of book one, Outlander, the ending had kept me up virtually all night – so I was dying to find out what happened next. However, that’s not what Diana Gabaldon had in mind for her readers!
Dragonfly in Amber starts in Claire’s own time, where she talks about 20 years having gone by since her return. It’s very confusing (in a good way) because despite Jaime and the Scotland setting that we’ve all come to love, you can’t help tearing through to find out what happened. The book flips between Claire back in her own time and back in the past with Claire and Jaime heading to Paris in an effort to stop the Jacobite rebellion. Eventually, by the telling of both stories, the dreaded question of ‘what the heck happened here‘ is uncovered.
The plot of Dragonfly has a more mature feeling in both timelines of the story. Not only has Claire been without Jaime for 20 years, but in the ‘past’ portion, they have been married for some time now and are not the young newlyweds we first read about. There are these great moments where Claire and Jaime are still learning new things about each other though, which I loved, because I think it’s really relatable to any real couple. All in all, without spoiling too much, this story is wonderfully crafted. Diana Gabaldon did it once again, this time expanding her world a bit more in the process. In the last book, there were a few plot twists that completely caught me off guard but in this story – especially near the end – there was just so many scenes that had me in shock.
When it came to the end, my heart hurt so much for these two characters and the impossible choice they were making. When the story comes full circle and the beginning makes sense, I was both fighting back tears and hailing Gabaldon for her genius writing skills.
Claire will forever be one of my favorite heroines – she’s strong-willed, skilled in medicine, fast on her feet and bloody stubborn. I think she’s particularly relatable in this book when the prospect of motherhood weighs on her mind. In a particular favorite scene of mine, Claire speaks her mind to Jaime and admits she’s afraid of whether she’ll be a good mother or not. And when tragedy strikes the couple, it was so well written. Claire faces a lot of emotions in this book besides romance. The grief, guilt and anger she feels here makes her feel so much more human and complex as a character. At some really low points, she feels crippling hate but then at other points, she can put her hate on the back burner to aid a friend’s health and further her husband’s cause. I loved her for how stubborn and complex she was in the last book but in Dragonfly, she’s that and more! ALSO, can I just say how much I adored her scenes of independence?? Like when shee designs a very scandalous looking red dress that had Murtagh’s jaw dropping and Jaime comically going ‘I can see down to your ribs!’ and ‘I think you’re going to need a bigger fan’. I also really loved seeing her get back into what she loves doing – healing others. Her need to ‘be useful’ is something I could really relate to so it was awesome seeing her make that decision in a city where women were content gossiping and sipping tea all day.
I can rant about how much I love Jaime’s character for days and this books no exception. After going through a really horrible ordeal at the end of Outlander, Jaime is broken in many ways. His mental/emotional struggle is more apparent in the show in my opinion but it was fascinating to read how he and Claire overcame it together. Especially at one point, when tensions boil over and Claire says how she’s felt alone for months and Jaime explains how utterly vulnerable he’s been left…it’s this beautiful but hard scene. Actually, there are a few of those in this novel. All of which, equally well done. Everyone wants to tell their loved ones how well they’re getting on and how everything will be okay, just as Jaime chooses to do. But when he finally breaks down and tells Claire just how hard it’s been, the scene is so well done! I don’t want to give too much away about the end but…HOLY CRAP!! I loved everything about the final 100 pages despite it totally destroying my heart. Many people are selfish in this world but time and time again, Jaime has shown how no matter what, he’s always put Claire first.
I didn’t have much to say on this character in the first book because my hate for him was through the roof…xD But for anyone else who has read the books…what did you think of Randall’s role in the second novel? Jack might come off as a pure villain in the first book but when we are introduced to his sickly younger brother, Alex, there’s something that almost made me feel sorry for Randall – almost. We see a side of Randall that hadn’t been there before, something much more human, soft. Claire and Randall strike a deal since Claire is friends with his brother and her doctor skills might help comfort him. Despite Jack’s horrid comments and their violent past, I thought the fact they could actually work together to help a friend was really interesting.
These are other characters that I don’t want to go into too much detail about because I have less to say or it’s massive spoilers…but I loved the contrast of characters like poised Prince Charles and Louise from Paris and grimy gritty characters like Murtagh and Dougal. There were some pretty satisfying deaths among the bloodshed in this novel too that I welcomed happily, making the long read totally worth it.
Mary was one of my favorite minor characters and the difference between her innocence and Louise’s seductiveness as she tried to teach Mary about ‘being attractive’ was freaking hilarious. With these two girls, the book also shed more light on what girls had to go through at that time with reputations, marriage, children. Lastly, Fergus!! My adorable, curly-haired, french, smart-ass Fergus. I loved him in the book and in the show he was perfectly portrayed. He is a young thief without parents, living in Paris and Jaime becomes his father figure when he brings him home one night, much to Claire’s surprise. It was also so heartwarming to see how much Claire and Fergus’ bond blooms throughout the novel.
I love how Outlander can span different cities and be good each and every time…but personally, I much prefer the chapters in Scotland. Paris was a really cool way to shakeup the novel though, especially because it so starkly contrasted the Scottish Highlands. Between the fashion, food, etiquette, and of course French culture, I really enjoyed reading it – even if I, like Claire and most of the characters would rather be in Scotland xD
Outlander Season 2
Much like the first season, I was able to watch the show alongside reading which was really awesome. Towards the middle though, events got a bit switched around in the show so sometimes I found myself reading for longer periods before sitting down to enjoy an episode. There were also a few more changes from book-to-screen this season than the last; some of which I really loved and others that still baffle me (only because they were such minor changes that I don’t understand why it had to be changed in the first place). But I loved how colorful Paris was, between the lavish balls and all the gorgeous fashion. Despite the brutality back in Scotland when war is waging, there’s this scene where a battle is taking place and the choreography is so amazing!! It gave me goosebumps to see the highlanders and English soldiers clash in a foggy field.
As per usual, the soundtrack was perfect and I loved the subtle changes in the intro as the season progressed.
I give Dragonfly in Amber a 4/5 – slightly lower than Outlander – but not because I hated the story. Despite it being longer, I finished it in way less time than the first book. But still, at some points it felt a bit dragged on. However, I think, it’s worth reading because while the show adapts Jaime and Claire’s story wonderfully, there are so many tidbits you’d never hear about if you ignored the books and only binged the show. Quite a few of my favorite lines didn’t make it into the show which sucked – but that’s not to say that the show didn’t do it well. The two are just approached a tad different this time around, which is fine.
Overall, I loved this story as much as the last and am still urging all my friends to go and read the books – even just watch the show! Outlander has it all: Romance, fantasy, culture, fashion, love, thrills, and mystery.
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PHEW! Sorry folks for such a long post. After all, the book is over 900 pages so there’s a lot to over. Have you guys read Outlander or Dragonfly in Amber? Are you a fan of the show? Let me know in the comments down below!
I’m currently on book #3, Voyager, and I’m trying to read as much as I can before Season 3 aires on September 10! I can’t believe I’m all caught up with the show! :pp I’m so freaking excited..That’s all for me today, I hope you enjoyed today’s post!
I’ve got some excited book posts planned and a fall/back-to-school haul planned so stayed tuned! Until next time,