Just a wee distraction before writing about Day 2 or our highland adventure.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon was partially, well mostly, the reason I wanted to go to Scotland this summer.  I’m a big fan of historical fiction so these books were right up my alley.  I talked about Outlander and its pull in an earlier post Aye, you’re a long time deid, ya ken?  Since then I’ve read and listen to the series a few times and I’m still fascinated. I pick up something new each time and end up looking up people and events to learn more. I have a great respect for writers anyway, but those who make me think are just brilliant!

The author Diana Gabaldon

The 8 (soon to be 9)  book Outlander Series

The Outlander series is basically a love story that takes place in the 1700s between two strong and intelligent people living through a fascinating time in history.  The books are clearly fiction (ya think!) but the author, a researcher by education and trade, peppers her story with historical events and people. The books take the reader through  18th century Scotland, France, Jamaica, and North Carolina. The two fictional characters, Claire Beauchamp and James Fraser,  travel through their 1700s life meeting people like Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), Louis XV of France, Count St Germain, Ben Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and Joseph Brant, to name a few. The books show how people lived on farms and estates in the Scottish highlands, on Jamaican plantations, and in the Carolina back country, as well as in Edinburgh and Paris society.

The story starts with life in Scotland leading up to the massacre on Culloden Moor in 1746,  then hobnobbing with French nobility during the reign of Louis the XV, the long and dangerous crossing to the new world , plantation life in the Indies, finally colonial America just before and during the Revolution. What people ate, how they built homes, what games they played, books they read, songs they sang, how illness was treated – or not, the politics of the time, all discussed in the narrative. You get a feel for how wealth and poverty effected lives, how dangerous life was for everyone, men (war), women (childbirth) and families (starvation and war).

Main character actors – STARZ Outlander Series (Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan)

Tough Highland men

Claire caught in the intrigue of the French court.

Of course the story has that twist.  Claire accidentally comes to 1743 from 1945 through a standing stone on a Scottish hillside.  I know, I know – but what if?

Claire Beauchamp is a doctor trained in 20th century Boston and practicing in the 18th century. She tries to use her medical knowledge without the benefit of anesthesia, antibiotics, operating rooms, xrays, dentistry, and modern methods of disinfection.

James Fraser was born to run a Highland estate, sent away as a teenager to learn to fight and defend himself and his land, then sent to France for the formal education befitting a higher born Scot.  On his return to Scotland he joined his fellow highlanders defying the English as often as possible and dealing with the backlash as it came.

Claire falls in love with Jamie but circumstances (the last Jacobite battle) sends her through the stones, back to her “own time” pregnant and devastated to be leaving her husband.  Twenty years later she learns Jamie didn’t die in the battle and she contrives to go back.  Later, unknown to Claire, their 20 year old daughter Brianna follows her, then Brianna’s boyfriend Roger comes to find Brianna.   Brianna is an engineer by education, and a very competent and strong willed woman, she and her historian boyfriend bring a whole new set of interesting possibilities to the story.

Tomorrow we visit the Culloden Battlefield a few miles north east or Inverness.  The Battle of Culloden, fought on  April 16, 1746, plays a key role in the Outlander books.  It was a short bloody battle fought between men who backed the British King, and men who followed  Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Pretender King) called Jacobites. The English crushed the Jacobites and the battle changed Scotland forever.