On the day that Written In My Own Heart’s Blood (MOBY) was released last summer, I drove to my local bookstore — because I shop local like a good girl — plunked down my $29.99, drove back home, and then promptly put the book up on my china cabinet.
Why did I rush out to buy a book I wasn’t ready to read? Because I sometimes suffer from the Fear of Missing Out, aka FOMO. All my Twitter buds were so excited about buying the book on its release date, and I wanted in on the fun! It’s like that time I stood in line at midnight to buy REM’s Automatic for the People in 1992. I could have waited til after Con Law the next day, but no. FOMO — and draft beers from Tiger Town Tavern — induced me. FOMO is real.
FOMO in the wild
I also suffer from a retention problem because I suffer from having a 41-year-old brain. Do you know what I could remember from An Echo in the Bone, the book that precedes MOBY? Dick-all. That’s South Carolina for “not very much.” I didn’t want to read MOBY, thinking, “Huh, what? Who dat?” or “I don’t understand why this happening!” the whole time. Lawd, I hope I never witness a crime. The wrong person will definitely go to jail.
I knew the release date for MOBY well in advance since I don’t live under a rock and sometimes check-in on social media. Actually, I’m pretty sure Outlander social media could still reach you even if you were indeed living under a rock. Outlander PR is kinda thirsty.
Knowing that I remembered dick-all, I embarked on a journey to re-read the entire Outlander series at the start of 2014. All seven books. A refresher. All eight million pages (page count estimated). How long could it really take? More than a year apparently, because I just finished ECHO. I’m easily distracted, it’s clear.
My “squirrel” is MMF fiction and Spaniards playing tennis on the television.
For me, Outlander is like a game Six Degrees of Fifty Shades of Grey. I had read FSOG like every other person concerned with being a part of the pop culture zeitgeist in 2011. Holy crap, I don’t need to tell you that FSOG was not good. And its horribleness compelled me to seek of better romance/erotica. I binged on Susan Johnson, Amanda Quick, and Robin Schone til my heart and panties burst. In search of my next author, I googled “Best romance novel everrrrrrrrr!” and I stumbled across a list that had Outlander positioned at the top. So I read it.
And. It. Was. Everything.
But this isn’t about those original moments of reading. This is about re-reading. This is about the SECOND TIME. You are an Outlander virgin no more. You’re an Outlander hoochie now.
It’s called REKILTING. Oh yes. There is a word for it. The lovely Beth told me, so it must be true. (Bless this fandom’s heart.)
So this post is about what I can remember from when I rekilted in 2014/2015. It’s a bit more than dick-all, but barely. Jesus god, I’m using rekilted as a verb.
Please note, this whole rekilting series (3 parts!) is going to be one giant SPOILER ALERT. I’m going to talk about the books as if you have read them at least once. You’ve been warned. Also, spoiler alert, my memory still stinks.
Outlander, The Original
Coming back to a book a second time means interacting with characters in a God-like fashion: you know their future.The magic of discovery was gone, but this isn’t really a bad thing. Now I can read the first appearance of Jamie and think, “I know him!” I paid greater attention to when Jamie and Claire first meet because now I know he’s her lobster. On my first reading, he was just some stanky-ass guy with a really bad haircut and messed up shoulder.
Most characters remained the same for me throughout their journey. Laoghaire sucked from jump, as she did the first time. Ian was still my boo. I did notice that Frank became more sniveling to me. Frank smells like wet tweed. And I think I love Murtaugh even more because grumpy has really grown on me. It’s why I’m pulling for Andy Murray in 2015.
It amused me to find that I keep mis-pronouncing the names in my head, even after I have heard them said the right way. Beuchamp is said in the French way. It’s not Fraser; it’s Frazier. Oh look, we’re are at muddy Castle Lock. Gaelic is gay-lic. Laoghaire is pronounced ihateyou.
When I rekilted, the STARZ PR blitz was in full swing, and I was worried that the show’s casting had seeped into my brain space, warpign how I had originally pictured the characters. Sam is fine as premium cable Jamie, but I didn’t want his earnest mug to replace book Jamie. And I was pleasantly surprised that the characters in my mind’s eye stayed the same. Especially Dougal. I worried about him the most since TV Dougal is #NotMyDougal. This is my Dougal:
real life human bear
Also after the second reading, I continue to think Claire should have shagged ole Dougal at least once. Just to say she did.
During rekilting, I read the wedding scene once and only once and kept on reading. The first time, I may have re-read it eleven times in a row before plowing ahead.
I love Outlander because it taught me the word oxter — and how it relates to going down on a lady. Get on in there, Jamie.
The spanking scene had never registered on my outrage meter. (I’m no Jamie apologist. Don’t believe me? Just wait til you hear my opinion on his time with Geneva in Voyager.) But the reading of the spanking scene a second time, it did start to bug me a bit. Earlier in Outlander, Jamie took a beating himself to save Laoghaire from the embarrassment of getting one, yet when Claire bristles at leaving her room post-spanking, Jamie dismisses her fears with a “Chin up.” This is the woman he loves and he feels no empathy for her? In fact, he seems to think it’s a bit funny. Maybe Jamie became an idiot as soon as he said vows – which has been known to happen – or he got a taste of being the Daddy Dom and is giddy with endorphins. Or he has fallen victim to some editorial inconsistency. Unclear.
The wolves outside Wentworth Prison still scared the shit out of me. I could feel the snow. I could feel Claire’s terror. I could feel Claire going HULK SMASH!
The word “rouse” made me feel weird then, and it makes me feel now. And I don’t like it.
The scene in which Claire drugs both she and Jamie with opium in order to fight/fuck/heal Jamie still makes no sense to me.
The grotto remains my favorite love scene in all of the books. Jamie describing all the noises Claire makes, in all the different ways he takes her. That’s napalm for the ovaries. I also loved it more the second time because I knew it was the end. As a Nook reader, I had no idea that the grotto was going to be the final scene of Outlander the first time I read it. I remember thinking, “What the hell! This says I have twenty more pages left? Oh, it’s a preview of the next book? Eff your preview and the horse the preview rode in on.” But this time I knew. Oh I knew.
Dragonfly in Amber, Book Two
I will never forget buying DIA the moment I finished Outlander and thinking, “Who the fuck is this Roger asshole and where is Jamie Fraser?” Even knowing that was how DIA opened, I still had that feeling of outrage. After being in Claire’s head for an entire book, it’s startling to run into Roger’s POV like a brick wall. It’s like Roger is saying, “Calm down, lassie. Why the rush?” I hate being told to calm down.
I found myself suddenly saying Jacobites like Wilford Brimley says diabetes. JACOBEETUS!
Diving back into DIA, I had so many “This is brand new information!” moments. My lack of recall was a combination of my brain failing me but also because I had read it sooooo fast the first time. When you open the book with Claire in future with a ginger kid by her side, along with a tombstone with Jamie’s name on it, I had to get to the bottom of things tout de suite.
Baby Fergus! I forgot this was when Jamie found Fergus!
Master Raymond! Sandringham! Mother Hildegard! Black Jack’s sickly brother! Mary Hawkins…in danger…by being raped…how original.
And there is a duel! Its so very Regency Romance! Jamie goes off to kill Black Jack, and Claire loses her baby. Misery. Adding to the misery, knowing that Jamie had initiated the duel after finding BJR raping wee Fergus.
During my rekilting, I really started to take heart when others have complained the books are rapey. There seems to be an easy way to create drama for your characters, and unfortunately, too often, it involves non-consent.
When you are trying to change the course of history, it makes sense that you run across historical figures. DIA really starts the parade of Outlander’s historical cameos. If you’re famous, Jamie and Claire are gonna run into you. I’m pretty sure that if Jamie could time travel into the future, he would have been hanging out with Paul, John, George, Ringo, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
So, natch, of all the people that Claire would have to bone in order to free Jamie for his post-dueling imprisonment, it would have to be the King of France himself. Louis had that petit gris peen, lubing Claire up with rose oil. Le roi had game.
Monsieur Forez’s description of what happens to the body when it is drawn and quartered still made me want to barf. And Paris fashion reminds me a lot of tumblr porn: pierced nipples. That’s a big nope for me. But as a fan of waxing, I think Claire should have taken the hair off the honeypot. Just to say she did.
One of the the hardest scenes for me was when Jamie and Dougal and his band of merry men hide out in the church during the Battle of Falkirk. Knowing their eventual fate at Culloden, it was tough to read again. And Rupert dies. I hate the Red Coats. You dipshits are gonna get it come 1783.
Also, Charles Stuart is the worst. He’s like the Justin Beiber of history.
The climax of DIA was just as good/awful/gut wrenching the second time around. After killing Dougal, Jamie takes Claire to Craig na Dun, demanding she go back through the stones to Frank and his wet tweed. She must go back, he tells her, because she’s pregnant! There is sex and rest. And then furious sex and cutting. This is the scene in which the phrase “all the feels” was invented.
Oh and by the way, Jamie didn’t die at Culloden. I knew there was a reason you were in the book, Roger!
Next in Rekilting, Part 2, I keep this kilt on and take you back through the stones to Voyager and Drums of Autumn.
Have any of y’all rekilted? Are you a mutliple rekilter? What changes for you and what stays the same?