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There are two major storylines here. One takes place in the 18th century. Claire Randall, who had traveled back in time from post WWII Scotland to a Scotland preparing for the restoration of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to the throne, had married James Fraser and confided to him the truth of her time travels. She also told him of the coming disaster of the Battle of Culloden Moor, (1745), and its terrible aftermath for all of Scotland. Together they do everything in their power to halt the inevitable uprising, including move to Paris to become part of the Prince's entourage and perhaps effect a change in history through their relationship with the Jacobites living in France. The relationship developed between Claire and Jamie continues to grow in this book. Their intensely passionate love and close friendship is extremely moving. Although James is a very strong and competent person, Claire with her strength of character, independence, resourcefulness and nursing skills moves adeptly through another time period and is as indispensable to James as he is to her. We travel with both of them, from the Scottish highlands to the pomp of the French court, as they attempt to impact history and continue on together with a love that transcends the boundaries of time.
The second and parallel plot takes place in 1968. Culloden is 200 years in the past. James had sent Claire back to the future to keep her and their unborn child safe from Scotland's fate right before the doomed battle and, they both believed, Jamie's inevitable death during the fight. Claire still feels the bitterness of the intrigues, betrayals, murders, treason and violence that were so much a part of her life with James as they fought together to spare Scotland from its future. Twenty years have passed and Claire, now a doctor, and her daughter Brianna, travel to Scotland from Boston. Brianna does not know the truth about her mother's history, before her birth, nor who her real father is. Claire's 20th-century husband is now dead and she is determined to discover what happened to James, their family and friends. He was her soulmate and the only man she ever loved. If there is a chance at all to find her Jamie, or at least discover what happened to him, she is will do it.
Once again Ms. Gabaldon deftly portrays 18th century Scotland and France and immerses the reader in another time with her superb historical research and writing style. Her characters, major and minor, complex and simple, grow and develop as you read. Many of them are introduced in "The Outlander," but some remarkable new figures emerge from this novel also. Many of them are bound to capture your heart.
I don't know if this book could stand alone without reading "Outlander" first. And since there is so much to gain by reading both books, and continuing on to number three, I don't know why anyone would wish to do so...unless this book is purchased without the knowledge of the prequel. Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is a major epic and this novel is one of the best in the series. It is jam-packed with adventure, accurate historic detail, romance, friendship, and more from a most unusual perspective. Highly recommended!
While the core of the story is about a love that transcends time, it would be a disservice to label it a romance, as it is much more than that. It is a wonderful adventure story interspersed with actual historical events and authentic period detail. It is this attention to such matters by the skillful pen of the author that renders these books three dimensional and so enjoyable. They are positively addictive!
The love of the ages that binds these books is the love that twentieth century Claire Randall has for the eighteenth century Scottish highland warrior, James Fraser. Those of you who read the first book in the series, "Outlander", know that in 1945, Claire, an Englishwoman and combat nurse during World War II, is reunited with her husband, Frank, after the war. While on a second honeymoon in Scotland, she visits a strange, flat topped hill in the highlands of Scotland, where a forbidding stone circle draws her. Touching one of the stones, she is hurled through a vortex in time and finds herself in eighteenth century Scotland, where she meets a brave and brawny, red headed Scot, James Fraser, with whom she falls completely in love, body and soul. Finding herself thrust into the midst of clan warfare and intrigue, she and her beloved 'Jamie' have enough adventures to last a lifetime, which makes for a riveting story.
This book is a continuation of that story. It is told from the perspective of the twentieth century where Claire, who is now a doctor, has lived for the past twenty years. Upon the death of her twentieth century husband, Frank, Claire returns to Scotland with her grown, red headed daughter, Brianna. There, she discloses to Brianna the events of her secret past, as well as the truth of whom Brianna's biological father actually is and of the love that Claire bore him.
While in Scotland, however, Claire discovers something that will forever change her future, as well as her past. You see, for the past twenty years, Claire has believed that her beloved 'Jamie' died in the historic battle of Culloden. It was there that the Scottish highlanders bravely fought the English in a misguided attempt to restore Charles Stuart, their bonny Prince Charlie, to the English throne, only to be decimated and branded as Jacobite traitors. It was this very event that she and James Fraser had conspired to change only to fail. It was this failure that brought Claire and 'Jamie' to a crossroad that would force them to part and have Brianna become a denizen of the twentieth century.
This book continues the saga so deftly begun in "Outlander". It tells the story of what happened in the eighteenth century that ultimately caused Claire to leave the love of her life and return to the twentieth century. It recounts the plight of two star crossed lovers who make a desperate and valiant attempt to change the course of history. It regales the reader with the adventures they encounter along the way. It is a story that transports the reader from the turmoil of the Scottish highlands to the intrigue of the French Court.
Readers will be captivated by this amazing and compelling time travel saga.