Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Selections: Outlander

Welcome to Sunday Selections, a meme devoted to sharing and discussing our favorite quotes and passages from our favorite books. If you'd like to share a selection, please leave a comment with a link to your post.

This week I'm sharing one of my favorite passages from Outlander by Diane Gabaldon. This is an excerpt from the scene where Claire returns to the ancient Scottish stones that catapulted her back in time from 1945 to 1743. This is the moment she's been striving for for the past six months, to get back to the stones to return home to her life with her husband. But now that she's finally here with Jamie, the man who's been her anchor in this strange and dangerous world, she is afraid and uncertain.

Outlander (Outlander, #1)     "My lady," he said softly. "My...Claire. It's no use in waiting. I must part wi' ye now."
     My lips were too stiff to speak, but the expression on my face must have been as easily readable as usual.
     "Claire," he said urgently, "it's your own time on the other side of...that thing. You've a home there, a place. The things that you're used to. And...and Frank."
     "Yes," I said, "there's Frank."
     Jamie caught me by the shoulders, pulling me to my feet and shaking me gently in supplication.
     "There's nothing for ye on this side, lass! Nothing save violence and danger. Go!" He pushed me slightly, turning me toward the stone circle. I turned back to him catching his hands.
     "Is there really nothing for me here, Jamie?" I held his eyes, not letting him turn away from me.
     He pulled himself gently from my grasp without answering and stood back, suddenly a figure from another time, seen in relief upon a background of hazy hills, the life in his face a trick of the shadowing rock, as if flattened beneath layers of paint, an artist's reminiscence of forgotten places and passions turned to dust.
     I looked into his eyes, filled with pain and yearning, and he was flesh again, real and immediate, lover, husband, man.

I love the description of Claire viewing Jamie as a painting, as something not real, because it's a good parallel of how she has viewed life ever since she stumbled through the stones. She's had a hard time grasping the reality of her situation and with Jamie, she's always held back, almost refusing to believe that the life she's been living in 1743 is entirely real, because she's always known that one day she was going to get back to the standing stones and go home. It's almost like, in this moment, she is confronted by both perceptions in the form of a trick of the eye where they are merged together, and she is forced to acknowledge the truth and the consequences of her decision.

In addition to the meaning behind this scene, I just love the way it's written. I think Diana Gabaldon's prose is beautifully poetic at times without ever feeling obvious or overstated. This book is one of my comfort reads. I've read it and thumbed through it so often and yet I never tire of it. It sits on my shelf of honor as one of the books that has really deepened my appreciation for the art of good story-telling.


  1. I completely agree, Gabaldon's writing is wonderful. I read this for the first time in January and was so surprised by how much I loved it! Now I need to work the second book into my reading schedule. I know I'll love it too :)

  2. Oh, Jamie. *sigh* I lost track of this series somewhere around the time that they came to North America, but I really need to pick these back up.

    I love this idea too!

  3. Mary, if you read the second book, be sure you have the third book handy because you're going to want to read it right away!

    Jen, the first three books are the best in the series, IMO, but Claire and Jamie have a lot of living left to do and the continuation of their story has been great and I recommend all of the books. And thank you so much for your support! It means a lot :)


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