Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Women’s Fiction
While the second novel in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, was full of politics and rather dry for a huge majority of the book (with the exception of the instances from the future as well as the small bit you get to see of the Battle of Culloden itself), Voyager is much more interesting. With how the second book ended, there were a lot of possibilities going through my head of what could happen next, but Voyager was pretty much a surprise the whole way through. With the new season (Season 3 of Outlander) on the rise, I figure, why not give a (somewhat) brief summary and some commentary on the novel in preparation for comparing to the show or if anyone just wants a bit of background on the plotline or anything like that.
While the previous book ended with Clair having told her daughter, Brianna, about her real father after Frank’s death, this book goes back to where they are living in Boston in 1968. Before that, though, the novel goes into more detail than we saw previously with the battle of Culloden. We see Jamie, wounded, as well as Jack Randall, dead for sure (this time). When the survivors of Culloden are set up to be shot, Harold Grey recognizes Jamie as “Red Jamie, and spares him for saving his younger brother, John Grey.
When Jamie’s life is in danger as the English hunt the small remnant of the Jacobite rebels, Jamie finds refuge in a cave near his home in Lallybroch, where he visits his family (ta the risk of exposing himself) one a month to clean and get supplies to take back to the cave. To prevent the English from taking his home, property, and harming his family, Jamie signs the ownership over to his sister’s eldest son, also called Jamie (to be called Young Jamie, later). After a number of years (7, I think), Jamie allows himself to be captured for a reward that will help prevent famine among the people (for a while).
Jamie is taken to Ardsmuir prison, where he meets Lord John grey again. Jamie gets the privilege of having dinner with Lord John once a week, where they merrily discuss the other prisoners, among other things. When the prisoners are being sent to America for the renovation of the prison, Lord John seemingly helps Jamie by sending him to Helwater to be a groom. While Jamie is meant to marry the younger daughter, the elder, Geneva, is infatuated with him and blackmails him into having sex with her, which, as we know, generally results in a baby.
Nine months pass, and Jamie’s “mistress,” who did end up marrying her betrothed, dies after the birth of their son. Her husband insists that the baby is not his, but Jamie eliminates the threat to his son by killing the man instead, making him an even more wanted criminal (maybe?). When Jamie returns with the boy to Helwater, he is offered a pardon and my return to Lallybroch, but he wants to stay with his son, William, until his son truly begins to resemble Jamie, at which time, Jamie finally leaves.
A good chunk of the beginning to early-middle part of the novel has the reader wondering “What about Claire?” as well as showing some snippets of Brianna’s childhood with Claire and Frank, as well as some of the tension in Claire and Frank’s relationship. So, what about Claire? Will she ever see Jamie again? Once we are caught up with Brianna’s past and Frank’s death, we already know that Claire takes Brianna to Scotland, the home of her ancestors.
With the help of Roger MacKenzie (adopted son of Reverend Wakefield, whose funeral they are all attending), Claire and Brianna are able to track down Jamie through history, finding which point he would be at by the time Claire chooses to return nearly 20 years after her departure.
Finally, Claire returns to find Jamie in Edinburgh, under the guise of a printer named Alex Malcom. We have hardly even cracked the “voyager” part of the novel in which it is entitled after at this point, but we are getting there. With a bit of an awkward family reunion, both with Jamie’s sister and her sons, as well as with Fergus, Claire’s absence is explained away by a brief lie that she was in France with family, thinking Jamie dead after Culloden. Even more awkward, Claire finds out that Jamie had married Laoghaire, the same girl who liked him and had Claire arrested for witchcraft nearly twenty years earlier. And they have two daughters (one of which is infatuated with Fergus).
Claire aims to leave, but when Laoghaire shoots Jamie, Claire cannot resist helping him with antibiotics she brought with her from the 1960’s. To mend the squalor between the two women, Jamie offers a huge sum to support her and the girls, but he has to go get it where it was hidden on an island. During their excursion, Young Ina (Jamie’s nephew) is kidnapped, and his cousin, Jared sets Claire, Jamie, Fergus, and Marsali (Jamie’s oldest) with a ship to head to the West Indies, where Ian is being taken.
Now at sea, the reminder of the novel takes place on the ocean and among various islands and places such as Jamaica. When an English ship hails their own a few days into their voyage, they ask for a doctor. Claire steps forward, and of course the men are wary of a woman doctor, but they take her nonetheless and promise the two ships will meet up later. After the ship with Claire has begun sailing away, she finds out that someone seeking Jamie who recognized him jumped aboard their other ship and aims to have him arrested once they reach Jamaica. With no hope of getting word to him to help, Clair scrambles for an idea.
Claire opts to jump overboard and finds herself on some islands where she meets a naturalist to offers to take care of her for a bit. Claire struggles to find Jamie, and when she runs into Fergus, she learns that Jamie went after her to save her (the same way she wanted to save him) and that he is fine and has escaped arrest as they are reunited.
Now in Jamaica, Jamie must disguise himself as a Frenchmen and attends a ball with John Grey, his old friend. John gives Jamie a portrait of his son from his mistress many years ago, and Claire aims to find out more about John and Jamie’s secret whispers. The search is still on for Young In, and when the slave marked t proves to be fruitless, they find that he was sold to someone by the name of Abernathy. When they go to the Abernathy plantation, as one may remember, Abernathy was the married name after Geillis Duncan went through the stone circle, we find that she has fled, and taken Ina with her!
Eventually, Claire and Jamie are able to save Ian, but they are still hunted down by the British ship. After a severe storm, Jamie and Claire find themselves shipwrecked on the shores of an American colony: Georgia!
Did I say it would be a brief summary? My bad! The books in this series are long, and they continue to get longer and longer! There is a lot of information in the pages within the front and back cover, and it’s hard to hit it all, even the major events. All-in-all this book was exciting and has me ready to read the next one. It was adventurous and tense in a way that the second book didn’t quite pull off. The second book had me wondering if I wanted to continue this series, but the third book gives me a solid YES, I will continue.
Gabaldon’s writing style is exquisite and she does her historical research. Now that readers have had more than their fill of Scotland and France, having Claire and Jamie land in America has me feeling the same way I felt with the end of the second novel, wondering: Where is this going to go? What could they possibly do in America? There are too many possibilities to consider, and the only option to find out is to read the fourth novel!