Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon


In her now classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon told the story of Claire Randall, an English ex-combat nurse who walks through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, and disappears . . . into 1743. The story unfolded from there in seven bestselling novels, and CNN has called it “a grand adventure written on a canvas that probes the heart, weighs the soul and measures the human spirit across [centuries].” Now the story continues in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. 

1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington’s troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie’s wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces. 

The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is  searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family’s secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy . . . never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself. 

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is the brilliant next chapter in a masterpiece of the imagination unlike any other. 

If you have never read the Outlander Series of books, you should.  This sweeping story feels like coming home to family!  I started reading the series in 1999 and now 15 years later I love it even more!  I’ve read each of the books numerous times and with each reading I get something new out of the story. 

This book starts right where book 7 left off.  If you have not read any of the series I would suggest either going back and reading all the books, watch the upcoming TV series (yes I’m very excited about that), or finding summaries of the books on line.   

Jamie and Claire are in the midst of their latest adventure and are in trouble as usual.  Claire thought Jamie was dead and it takes a few chapters for them to reunite.  Of course during that time Claire gets madder and madder.  I always get a chuckle out of how one or the other jumps to conclusions and they end up in a fight (and then making up as usual).   

What I love about these two is that they might get mad at one another but they love each other passionately and are each other’s soul mates. Jamie is fiercely loyal and will do anything for his family.  Claire is the same.  She has gone back in time to be with the man she loves; and just as she had done when she travelled back to 1947, to protect their unborn child.  In the end she just can’t live without Jamie. 

Diana Gabaldon interweaves historical events and characters into all of her stories.  George Washington and Benedict Arnold both make appearances and even though Claire knows how important they are to the birth of America, she still is surprised by the people they are, not by how they are portrayed by history books.  Diana Gabaldon brings new light to people who we think we know.  Her attention to detail is amazing (and that is why we all wait 4-5 years between books).  

I’m torn with the pace of this book.  It’s definitely a page turner and I can’t get enough of it.  But then for me I want to slow down and absorb each word, but I can’t because I need to know what is going on!!! In the end I found that I had to back track to remember a few of the side-stories.  There is a lot going on with a lot of different characters, so for a while I was confused.  I know in the end I will remember everything, but it might take a few readings over the next few years as I wait for the next book. 

I love how Diana Gabaldon brings to life what could be stale, boring history.  The Battle of Monmouth is an example of this.  She writes not just the historic facts but what our favorite characters did during this Battle.  How they reacted to each event and how in the end not only is George Washington a hero for America, so is Jamie Fraser!    

There are so many sub-characters to this story that a lot of people don’t get much attention this go around.  But the ones that do are well thought out and at times it is like you know them personally.   
William, Briana, Roger, Jem, Amanda, Ian, Rachel, Rollo, Fergus, Marsali, Jenny and many more all make up the central stories of this book.  We get to know more about each of them and how they react to different situations. 

We find out that William is just like his father(s); Jamie and Lord John.  He is stubborn, loyal, protective and very perceptive.  He knows what he wants but is confused by the events that led up to finding out that Jamie is his father.  At times he feels abandoned, angry and relieved to know the truth of who he is.  I can’t wait until the next book to see what happens to him. 

Briana and Roger must face losing their son and each other in order to get back to one another.  Through fighting to get back to the same time period they learn a lot about themselves and about their family.  Bree meeting her grandfather is one of the greatest scenes in the book.  He believes he is seeing his wife and dead son, when he is really meeting his granddaughter and great-grandson.  The emotion and love that is brought out in this part of the book was wonderful. 
As for the other characters I could go on forever about them.  But know that each one holds a special place in the book.  They are richly written and well thought out people.  Not just characters, they do come to life once you get to know them. 

This book is long 814 pages and might take a while to read.  But once you get past how big it is, just jump in and enjoy the ride. I have never been disappointed in any of Diana Gabaldon’s stories! 
There are sex scenes in this book (it is a Romance after all) so if you don’t like reading those just skip ahead.  This book is really a great read! 

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.” 
Diana’s current writing projects include the ninth major novel in the OUTLANDER series, as yet untitled, and a second volume of THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION. She is also serving as a Co-Producer and advisor for the Outlander TV series produced by the Starz network and Tall Ship Productions, which is based on her novels.  

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.”  She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction.  She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney.  None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is. 
Diana and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

 *I purchased a copy of this book.  All opinions are my own. Stephanie

1 comment:

  1. I need to get on this series ASAP so I can eventually watch the show! I only have the first 2 books so far, though.


The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to leave a comment. It's appreciated.