Rekilting Part Two covers Voyager and Drums of Autumn. WARNING. I’m gonna spoil these books like the noontime sun spoils deviled eggs at your covered dish picnic.
The third book in the series opens in Jamie’s point of view, and it’s perfect. He is confused and befuddled, bleeding on the battlefield. Is this purgatory he wonders? Nope. It’s Iowa. Or Culluden. Whatevs.
But wait! There’s a dead body on top of dear Jamie. And it’s Black Jack Randall. Holy crap, how did that happen?! Tell me! I need the satisfaction of understanding exactly how the most evil character in the Outlander series meets his violent end! (Pssst, Amy. You’ve read the whole series twice, remember? You will never get that satisfaction of fully enjoying the demise of BJR. Never.)
The drama of Lord Melton saving Fraser of Broch Tuarach is fantastic. It has the right mix of sadness and humor, enough to keep the reader from jumping off the ledge. DO NOT HURT MY JAMIE! JAMMF is the King of Men and all that, but his barbs in this scene are very Dr. Cox. Hal wants to save Jamie, to repay his brother’s debt. Jamie only wants to die.
Either shoot me or go away, aye?
I dinna want to go home! I want to be shot!
When we shift back to Claire’s point of view, her flashbacks still kick me in the gut. Claire is stuck in Boston (with a broken furnace!), breastfeeding an infant with diaper rash, all while trying to cook a chicken for a bullshit dinner party, and it showcases her agony like nothing else. I could feel her exhaustion and despair. I could hear Brianna’s screams as the stickpin in the dress stabs into her baby skin. As a gal who breastfed for 18 months, I could feel Claire’s painfully swollen boobs. And when Frank decides to become a human Medela? Yeah, I liked it. A lot.
While Jamie is hiding out in the cave, WEE IAN IS BORN! This moment is key for me since Wee Ian becomes my favorite character as the series continues on. Wee Ian 4 LYFE.
Brianna figures out Jamie is the Dunbonnet. Knits this to make her point.
My Lord John is delicate and lovely. Jamie should have played strip chess with the Governor of Ardsmuir prison at least once. It would give check MATE a whole new meaning.
And then Mac Dubh is off to the Lake District and Helwater where he meets the conniving Miss Geneva. In Part One, I discussed non-consent. Let’s talk about it again. Let’s talk about non-consent as it pertains to Jamie.
“Stop it! It’s too big! Take it out!” Panicked, Geneva thrashed beneath him.
Geneva says “Stop it!” one more time, and she says “Take it out!” one more time.
He clapped one hand over her mouth and said the only coherent thing he could think of. “No,” he said definitely, and shoved.
Jamie might be a man of the 18th century, but my eyes are reading this in the 21st. It doesn’t matter if Geneva was a blackmailing horror show; consent can be withdrawn at any time. Jamie rapes Geneva. I thought it the first time I read it, and I thought it the second time around, too. That’s problematic.
My reaction to it — my failure to throw the book out the window with a healthy “Eff this” — made me realize that when it comes to “problematic,” I myself am problematic. I pick and choose what truly becomes troublesome. I admit it: I’m inconsistent.
When Game of Thrones got too problematic for me, I quit watching. Yet how many times have I re-read Jane Eyre knowing Mr. Rochester is the worst. Iggy Azalea uses the N word, and she is a racist POS, dead to me. Sean Penn abuses women, but I still enjoy him as an actor. When something is problematic, but I don’t always say, “I’m outta here,” and that troubles me. Yes, I can love something that’s tricky and icky, something that chafes my sense of right and wrong. However, I should never blindly love something while refusing to even acknowledge its obvious flaws.
Before traveling back through the stones to Jamie, Claire tidies up her affairs, gets an Olan Mills photo taken for posterity, and buys a Jessica Gutenberg from the Resort 1776 collection. If I were traveling back to Jamie, I would wear something a bit more saucy. Like this:
Lorna McNessie, Monster High’s Favorite Highlander
I have a bunch of videos bookmarked in folder called “Turn That Frown Upside Down.” If I am having a crap day, I watch one of the videos and for about five minutes, I feel better. It’s like a media Ativan. Videos in my folder include:
But sometimes video just will not do and I need an analog kind of pick me up. For that, I grab my green copy of Voyager (spine broken) and flip to page 302.
PRINTER AND BOOKSELLER
Claire. And. Jamie. Reuinited.
“You’re real,” he whispered.
It’s instant, giddy joy.
And that’s one of the most fantastic ends to a book I’ve ever read. Except, we’re only ⅓ of the way in.
What bugs me is that Jamie and Claire don’t get a moments worth of peace. Can’t we have a montage of smesky times, rediscovering each other? But no. There is a fire! Bootlegging! A body in a barrel. And then there is Mr. Willoughby, a horny caricature whose sole purpose appears to bring acupuncture relief to Jamie’s seasickness. Problematic indeed, but I keep on reading.
Ihateyou™ shoots Jamie! Wee Ian gets kidnapped! Let’s all hop on a boat to Sandals all-inclusive resort in the West Indes! Big giant boats! So many boats in this book and the future books. It makes me wonder if DG regrets having Jamie’s seasickness ever be a thing in book one. Because every single time there is a boat, it has to be addressed ad nauseam. See what I did there?
Geillis has put on some weight, but she’s still crazy. Oh, and now she is a rapist, too.
Jamie and Claire get on another big boat and survive a hurricane. Voyager ends very badly for them: they have washed up in the BIBLE BELT! Bless their hearts.
Drums of Autumn
After Voyager, I took a break before re-reading Drums of Autumn. The dramatic narrative for me was complete in the first three books. Claire goes through the stones. Claire finds Jamie. Jaime and Claire fall in love. Jamie sends pregnant Claire back through the stones to Frank. Claire thinks Jamie died at Culloden. He does not die. Claire goes back in time to find Jamie. Kiss kiss. The End.
The first time I read the subsequent books after Voyager, it was like bonus material. I loved Jamie and Claire, and I got to spend extra time with them. But it wasn’t the narrative that was making me read on. It was the characters. They had become like family. I was so comfortable in their company. I wanted to spend time as much time with them as I could.
Spotted on the back of a Land Rover: Jamie, Claire, Roger, Bree, Wee Ian, Jem, Rollo
But sometimes hanging out with your family is a chore. They start to get on your nerves. With family, I find myself saying a lot, “I love you, but right now, I do not like you.”
With DOA, my rekilting slowed down. There wasn’t a compelling dramatic arc pulling me along. Yes, there were exciting moments in DOA, but they seemed like little bumps of a drawn out denouement following the perfect Freytag’s pyramid we got in books 1-3.
The “nerd alert” is understood.
But I forged ahead because I’m not a quitter. If I start it, I finish it. That goes for books*, marathons, and bottles of pinot grigio.
*Unless we are talking Causual Vacancy. I stopped that book 70 pages in because it was turrible turrible turrible.
At the start of DOA, we meet one of the best characters DG ever conceived. Rollo!
Who’s a good boy!
Stephen Bonnet is a lot less swashbuckling and swoon-worthy at his introduction, knowing he is about to join the ranks of the rapey.
Winston says, “Another one? Lord help.”
I love that Jamie is middle-aged before he realizes that women masturbate.
River Run is hot and humid and kind of boring. But you know who isn’t boring? Dandy Phillip Wylie. You know he knows where all the hot Cross Creek clubs are.
The Frasers make it to the Ridge, a land filled with strawberries and bears who like to wrastle.
Lord John brings the measles to the Ridge. He really needs to stop taking taking medical advice from Jenny McCarthy.
Come and knock on our door…
The second half of DOA is like an episode of Three’s Company.
The good part is that Bree finds Jamie. It’s the best meeting ever that involves public urination.
What Bree’s hair looks like in the Southern humidity.
But dang…such misunderstandings and people acting like donkeys! Regardless of the reason, Roger should have never left Brianna. Dude, you are not only in a strange land. You are also in a strange time! Not the best idea to split up into teams of one. Separated, Bonnet rapes Bree. Bree gets knocked up. Lizzie adds to the confusion, telling Jamie that MacKenzie (aka Roger Wakefield) raped Bree. Do you know the most popular game up on the Ridge?
I have never screamed, “NOOOOOO!” so much at a book. Also, great time to change your name, Roger Mac.
Jamie and Wee Ian think that Roger is the rapist and beat him senseless, handing him over to the Mohawk. If only at one point Roger had said, “I TRAVELED THROUGH THE STONES TO CHASE AFTER BREE! I AM FROM THE FUTURE!” this whole rhododendron hell could have been avoided.
Bree is prego and in need of a Daddy. Why not blackmail your dad’s gay best friend into taking you and your potential bastard on?
At the end of a typical Three’s Company episode, Mrs. Roper would emerge in a glorious caftan and help unravel the misunderstanding. In DOA’s, it’s Wee Ian who emerges, head plucked and face tatted up, offering himself to the Mohawk people in place of Roger.
On the first reading, I was pissed at Roger for not deciding right away if he wanted to come back to Bree and the baby of uncertain provenance. When I rekilted, I got it. Roger has seen live babies tossed overboard into the ocean to drown. He’s killed a man. He’s seen a man burned alive. His own father-in-law beat him senseless and was like the Fonz when it came to saying he was sorry.
Roger is totally justified in hanging out at the Regal Beagle, trying to decide if this batshit crazy family is worth joining. I would not have blamed Roger at all if he had said, “You people are problematic. I’m out.”
Next time in Re-Kilting: I psych myself up to get through the final three books. “You can do it, Amy.”