Before I get into any preview of this week’s coming episode, I just want to put down some thoughts on the Outlander Experience as it relates to me? I am a late comer to the Outlander Experience, having just discovered it this summer. My initial thoughts after reading the first book a few months ago were, “How did I miss this when it first came out all of those years ago!” My daughter asked me the same question and I had to sit down for a bit and think about how or why I might have missed out on the book at that time.
In order to answer that, I had to travel my thoughts back to what might have kept me from enjoying the first book and the future ones as they made their way into the bookstores and libraries. So, what was I so busy with back then that prevented me from noticing this book, which by all rights should have immediately caught my attention by way of the fact that it hit all of my target book reading genres? Well, first of all let’s look at what I was doing in 1991 when the first book was released. I was a single Mom of two small children , one of whom had some serious learning difficulties at the time, I was going to school full time, working part time so let’s conclude that I was extremely busy juggling balls in the air and didn’t have much free time to browse, shop for, or read big fat books unless of course they were text books! I also had little spare cash to spend on those big fat books at the time. I did make a few occasional exceptions in cases where I already knew an author and their previous works… such as the case of Jane m Auel and her Clan of the Cave Bear series. Those books were my one exception to the ‘No Big Fat Books that we have no time for ‘ rule. In all honesty, when I think back to that particular time, most of my reading as pleasure time was spent reading what ever my children were interested in. In fact, I believe that might have been the summer that I spent re-reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series along with my daughter. Fortunately for me, my daughter was and is a voracious reader and was reading at much higher reading levels than most 10 year olds. She also had an all consuming passion for anything historical from her earliest years. We quickly moved on from the Little House books to much weightier novels and biographies. My son was never much of a reader when he was young but did enjoy being read to and he also enjoyed the history with some fantasy thrown in. We devoured the Indian in the Cupboard- still a favorite of mine, I have to admit! We also progressed to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and spent a lot time with Beatrix Potter as well. It was during that year too, that we wandered into poetry and prose with Robert Lois Stevenson and then headed into the darkness with the Brothers Grimms Fairy tales. So, while yes… I was reading and enjoying it, Diana Gabaldon and Outlander were most likely not anywhere close on my book radar screen at that time!
One other reason that I might overlooked the book, as if the first ones were not enough? On the few occasions that I did indulge in the luxury of browsing for and buying a book just for me, one that I could escape into some adult fantasy realm for a few hours… one that I would have to hide away because I knew that my daughter’s hands and eyes would quickly find it? On those few rare occasions, I would head for the historical romance section and search for some steamy adult reading content- yes, you know, the ones with a ravished woman and a conquering hero on the cover. Well, hmmm did Outlander have such a cover to entice me? No, it did not… If you were a busy stressed out Mom on a hectic schedule with just a very limited amount of time to sneak into the Romance section and find yourself some romantic escape rather quickly, would this book have called out to you? I think not! I deeply regret that now of course, but Hey, I had a lot going on back then and didn’t have a lot of extra time to search in depth!
For an interesting perspective on the length of time passed and what was involved in the initial writing of the first book, you can read Diana Gabaldon’s perspective here: http://www.dianagabaldon.com/2014/03/26-years-ago-today/
Now that I look back on it, I am glad that I didn’t get around to reading them as they came out, having to wait all of those years in between for each book to finally arrive. By discovering them all at once I was able to take the journey all at once… well, ok it did take a bit of time to get through them all so, no it was not really all at once but, you know what I mean! What this wonderful discovery did was give me a feeling of having spent my summer on a whirlwind trip to the Highlands and various other spots of interest. In a sense I felt like I had enjoyed a true vacation without leaving home. So, if people should happen to ask how I spent my summer, I could happily announce, “Why, I spent it trekking through Scotland, the highlands. I met the most amazing people there and then I took this incredible trip to the Standing Stones of Craigh na Dhun, traveled through time to Early America and back again several times… So, how did you spend your summer?”
Craigh na Dhun Stone Circle: http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=1146411369
One last thought to share on the Outlander experience and the length of time involved from the beginnings of it. It began in 1991 and the story is still unfolding. Most of us would certainly hope that we are around to see how it all continues. I work in a residential facility for the elderly. One of my residents, a lovely woman who is now not in the best of health, is a Outlander fan and has waited patiently over the years for each installment of the story. She made a comment to me one night that put the waiting and the story that Diana is telling into perspective and made me think about it. She just recently finished the latest book, and when I asked her what she thought of this one, she sighed and said this, “It was wonderful but I am a little disappointed that I probably won’t be around to see how it all turns out for them.” Knowing the woman’s health issues and knowing full well how long it takes for another book to come out, I had a hard time coming up with some uplifting comment back to her. I did mention that perhaps this could be come incentive for her to keep on ticking for a good bit longer? She just nodded and said, “Honey, I’m not sure that I can hold out quite that long!”
Now that we’ve covered some of the general musings on the history, timeline and the overall experience, you need to be prepared for the next episode of Outlander, The Garrison Commander. When I say you need to be prepared, I am quite serious! I believe that this episode is where we begin the true journey. The journey is not just a trip into the past and a love story between Jamie and Claire. It is far more than that, in that it takes us on an often dark journey into the minds and souls of those we assume are villains and evil doers. What Diana Gabaldon has done so well in the books is give us a full picture of those minds and how they come to think and act the way they do. She provides us so well with a highly detailed portrait of tortured souls that act out in horrendous ways but very often have some underlying layer of feeling or compassion. Before you start hating on black Jack Randall, please remember this… it will unfold in later times and you will better understand the man’s very warped mind! Yes, the man is clearly extremely dangerous and depraved, it’s quite obvious that he has a very dark and vicious side to his soul but at some later point in time, he shows a different side of himself that one would not think possible.
I did read a mention that a portion of this next episode is not taken from the book so I am anxiously waiting to see what they come up with. I am assuming that they did this in order to move the story along in some ways and better suite it to audience viewing. I am really looking forward to this episode for the fact that it does take us deeper into the complexities of the story. As I have mentioned, it is not just a love story by any standard. It is very complex and involved with the politics, the mysteries and the intrigues of the time period. Diana spent a great deal of time detailing the politics and the intrigues of the period and I am not sure how they will manage to present all of it. If you have spent far too much time dreaming and drooling over Jamie during previous episodes and missed some of the dialogue, I would highly suggest that you start paying close attention to the ongoing dialogue because I think that it is coming to the point where you need to pay very close attention to all of what’s going on. The issue of the Standing Stones and getting back to them begins to take a lesser role as Claire becomes much more involved in the coming war and the MacKenzie’s part in it. It is here, too, I think that her decisions, whether good or bad… and she certainly does make her share of bad ones, just as Jamie and everyone else does along the way… her decisions begin to seriously affect others and she starts to realize that it isn’t just about her, or her desire to get back to the stones any longer. This is definitely where the true story starts, in my opinion anyway!
If you have not read the books, are not all that much of a deep history buff, I am thinking that some of the upcoming events may cause you a bit of confusion… I will be the first to admit that much of my time reading the books was spent googling various events mentioned throughout the books!
I will help you out with that and provide a few quick links here if you are interested in some very basic history on the events!
Some other history of note which did show up in last week’s episode involved the “Black Watch” here is a brief history of them during the time period from the early Jacobit risings in 1715 through the 1740’s.
After the Jacobite rising of 1715 the British government did not have the resources or manpower to keep a standing army in the Scottish Highlands. As a result, they were forced to keep order by recruiting men from local Highland clans that had been loyal to the Whigs. This proved to be unsuccessful in deterring crime, especially cattle rustling. Therefore Independent Highland Companies (of what would be known as the “Black Watch”) were raised as a militia in 1725 by General George Wade to keep “watch” for crime. He was commissioned to build a network of roads to help in the task. The six Independent Highland Companies were recruited from local clans, with one company coming from Clan Munro, one from Clan Fraser, one from Clan Grant and three from Clan Cambell. These companies were commonly known as Am Freiceada Dubh, or the Black Watch, this name may well have been due to the way they dressed. Four more companies were added in 1739 to make a total of ten Independent Highland Companies.
The ten Independent Highland Companies of “Black Watch” were officially formed into the “43rd Highland Regiment of Foot”, a regiment of the line in 1739. It was first mustered in 1740, at Aberfeldy, Scotland. The Colonel was John Lindsay, 20th Earl of Crawford and the Lieutenant-Colonel was Sir Robert Munro, 6th Baronet. Among the Captains were his next brother, George Munro, 1st of Culcairn (also a Captain of an Independent Company raised in 1745) The other Captains of the 43rd were George Grant, Colin Campbell of Monzie, James Colquhoun of Luss, John Campbell of Carrick, Collin Campbell of Balliemore and Dougal Campbell of Craignish.
First action and Mutiny
The regiment’s earliest days were inauspicious: ordered to London in 1743 for an inspection by King George II, rumours flew that they were to be shipped to the West Indies to fight in the War of Austrian Succession, and many left for Scotland. They were recaptured, three of the leaders shot in the Tower of London, and the remainder of the regiment shipped to Flanders.
The regiment’s first full combat was the disastrous Battle of Fontenoy in Flanders in 1745, where they surprised the French with their ferocity, and greatly impressed their commander, the Duke of Cumberland. Allowed “their own way of fighting”, each time they received the French fire Col. Sir Robert Munro ordered his men to “clap to the ground” while he himself, because of his corpulence, stood alone with the colours behind him. For the first time in a European battle they introduced an infantry tactic (alternately firing and taking cover) that was not superseded. Springing up and closing with the enemy, they several times drove them back, and finished with a successful rear-guard action against French cavalry. Robert Munro’s cousin John Munro, 4th of Newmore also fought bravely and was afterwards promoted to be a lieutenant-colonel.
When the Jacobite rising of 1745 broke out, the regiment returned to the south of Britain in anticipation of a possible French invasion. However one company of the regiment fought for the British-Hanoverian Government under Dugald Campbell of Auchrossan at the Battle of Culloden, where they suffered no casualties. From 1747 to 1756 they were stationed in Ireland and then were sent to New York.
Ahhhh now, for one last thought…. well, alright- a couple of last thoughts for the day! Some have debated on the discussion of how while Jamie Fraser is indeed a fine young Scotsman, and wears his kilt so well, he is a wee bit young for many of us? Yes, we could always give our praises and other favors to Dougal MacKenzie instead but that is such an iffy compromise being that Geilles will be our competition… In this line of thinking, I must remind you all that before Jamie, there were other drool worthy, kilt wearing representations for us to dream about and drool over? And, at the same time, giving us a bit of a history lesson just to assure ourselves and others that we were watching for the historical content?
I am not endorsing this first representative but I do realize that many found him drool worthy at the time and it was a Scots story so I feel that I must include it in your history lesson? He did wear his kilt such as it was rather well and he told a good story.
Now, my own personal favorite, which I give glowing endorsement to along with any other favors he would accept? If you have never seen this movie, you should! Besides the history lesson, you can enjoy seeing Liam Neeson and others wear their kilts extremely well… and not wear them at all?! One note… I could not find it on Netflix but had to go to Amazon and rent it… it was well worth the money!
Ahhhh Just had to add this! Celtic Archives posted this debate a while ago: http://wildeyedsoutherncelt.com/tag/celts/ Rob Roy versus Jamie Fraser, who wears the kilt best?
Now, for one last bit of eye worthy history watching… This one has nothing to do with the Scots wearing their kilts well, but my daughter made this observation recently and I do have to agree with her. In later books, mainly the last one, My Own Heart’s Blood, one of the characters comes into his own. He’s been one of my favorites since he was introduced and I was happy to see more time devoted to his story! Jamie’s nephew, Ian travels to America with Jamie and Claire and his life is shaped by the time he spends living with the Indians. My daughter was watching the Last of the Mohicans one night and commented on she always had that image of Ian, especially with Diana Gabaldon’s references to the book and some of the characters in that book.
And, that concludes our musings, our history lessons and our drooling for the day! Now, go off and prepare yourselves for tomorrow’s episode!