WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD
by Diana Gabaldon
Narrated by Davina Porter
Edition Read: Audible Audio, Unabridged, 44 hours, 59 minutes
Published June 10th 2014 by Recorded Books (first published June 5th 2014)
Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press, June 10, 2014 E-Book and Hard Cover: 848 pages
There is a “key and citations/link” list for the banner below.
In OUTLANDER, the story of Claire Beauchamp Randall was introduced, 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 six more 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 book eight, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD.
It is June 1778, and the world seems to be turning upside-down. The British Army is withdrawing from Philadelphia, with George Washington in pursuit, and for the first time, it looks as if the rebels might actually win. But for Claire Fraser and her family, there are even more tumultuous revolutions that have to be accommodated. Her former husband, Jamie, has returned from the dead, demanding to know why in his absence she married his best friend, Lord John Grey. Lord John’s son, the ninth Earl of Ellesmere, is no less shocked to discover that his real father is actually the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser, and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for the woman who has just agreed to marry him. And while Claire is terrified that one of her husbands may be about to murder the other, in the 20th century her descendants face even more desperate turns of events. Her daughter Brianna is trying to protect her son from a vicious criminal with murder on his mind, while her husband Roger has disappeared into the past… 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. Penguin Random House
I will be the first to admit that the 45 hours I spent listening to this were among my most entertaining audio experiences ever. Of any kind. Forty-five hours is a longgggg time and I would have found it hard to make the time to read the 848 page opus and get my chores done. I really appreciated the audio and yet found myself thinking, “Am I ever going to finish this book.” I feel like Diana, Davina and I are very close now after spending so much time with Diana’s words and the Davina’s voice in my head.
It is “sweeping” and epic and all those things a llong book has to be to stay interesting. Its pace, and timbre vary such that one minute it is funny and the next it is as serious as a heart attack. Sometimes it was so sad it brought me to tears. Diana is so skilled at writing for emotional impact.
I like that Claire, Jamie, Lord John, and Jenny, are generally wiser. And it seemed that both Roger and Claire had pronounced increases in their levels of sagacity.
I had a variety of other thoughts about the book: “No wonder it took so long to write this!” And, “What a researcher!” To tell you the truth I cannot remember what happened in which of the other seven volumes.
And, I have not read the novellas yet, but, having been so immersed in this world again my heart is itching for them — like when you get home from a vacation and want to go right back to where you were staying. It’s just my giant TBR pile preventing me from a total OUTLANDER reread. But I got so immersed in the tale, especially with the bonus of it being audio — it became a little cocoon and I probably didn’t make notes, mental or in writing, just because it is so engrossing. I did like how the relationships between loyalists and “rebels” were not usually rancorous. When I docented at a historic house museum, we were told that some families had people on both sides. That is definitely the case here.
Gabaldon, who is possibly responsible for the happiness of many husbands as their wives read the first few books, has toned down the sexual content, replacing what I remember as passionate, more explicit encounters of a young Clair and Jamie in the volumes released in the late 1990s, with the romantic lives of an older couple. It’s nice they are still so in love so many years later.
But, even the younger couples who seem to be taking over the story lines are not quite up to the early Jamie’s and Claire’s heat level.
If you are a fan, it’s already a must read, so there’s nothing I can say here that will determine whether or not you read this. And, if you have not read any of the series yet, you shouldn’t start here. This is a series best read in order. And there is little back story given.
There are a lot of ends being tied up in this volume. Granted, there were a lot of ends out there too as the last book had a MASSIVE cliff hanger. Roger and Brianna are exploring the variables of time travel — trying very hard to understand the “science” behind it. Unfortunately, they are doing this separately.
It feels like Gabaldon is setting up several focus couples for future books: Dottie and Denzel, Ian and Rachel, Roger and Brianna, Germaine and “?.” But, it doesn’t feel like she plans to kill off Jamie or Claire although at one point in here I thought she might: it is a war after all.
If you love Paranormal Romance, Time Travel, Highlanders, Sexy Books, True Love, Heartbreak, and some serious violence, then you MUST READ THIS SERIES. I can’t think of anything else that has so captured my mind and heart in the nearly twenty years since I began reading it. It has its ups and downs but this particular book is fabulous. I have had friends tell me some of the series, , is just too sexually violent for them. I could see their point, but I don’t feel it is. It is in context.
Davina Porter’s narration of the story is spot on and natural sounding (read about her here). Her voices are consistent and she doesn’t “try too hard” to eclipse herself with the voice of a character; she captures the essence of the character without too much “acting.” I liked her immensely. I could especially see her as Claire’s character which she reads effervescently. And, for such an immensely long book, maintaining the characters for 45 hours, over a long days in the studio, is remarkable.
The whole book, and indeed the series, is a remarkable world of fabulous romance, thrills and is an amazing achievement. This is my favorite book in the series for a while — I feel like some of the last couple of books were setting the stage for this one. I really, really liked it. If you’re a fan, it’s a must read. If you haven’t started the series yet, WHY NOT?
This was quite brilliantly released just in time to ramp up publicity for the upcoming TV Series:
STARZ’ production of OUTLANDER will air in the US on August 9th, at 9 PM EST, as the poster above says.
This is a regular cable-TV show (not a movie, not a mini-series), with a first season (and we hope there will be more) running 16 episodes. The first season covers OUTLANDER only; subsequent seasons, if we get them, will cover the other books.
Hang onto your seats: it’ll be FUN! Diana Gabaldon
Author’s Website At Penguin Random House At Amazon At B&N
Key to banner content with citation/attribution:
Many of these people or places are referred to in the book. When I say “For Atmosphere” it means the location doesn’t specifically appear in the book.
1. Old Tennant Presbyterian Church and cemetery, at Tennant Road and Church Lane, at the western side of the Monmouth Battlefield. The church served as a hospital during the battle on June 28th, 1778. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monmouth_Battlefield_%2826%29.JPG
Attribution: By Apc106 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette, in a Continental Army uniform about the time of the book — Date 1779-80 by Charles-Wilson Peale http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marquis_de_Lafayette_3.jpg
3. Sir Henry Clinton British Commander in Chief during the American Revolution 1762-1765 by Andrea Soldi http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sirhenryclinton2.jpg
4. Map of the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, N.J. M’r Capitaine du Chesnoy, A.d.C. du Général LaFayette http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monmouth-map.jpg
5. Fraser Tartan By Celtus (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fraser_tartan_%28Vestiarium_Scoticum%29.png Adapted through Photoshop
6. Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth; depicts George Washington at the 1778 Battle of Monmouth by Emanuel Leutze before 1854 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BattleofMonmouth.jpg
7. For Atmosphere: Gustave Dore, Scottish Highlands 1875 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Dor%C3%A9_-_Scottish_Highlands_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
8. Benedict Arnold: “This is a color mezzotint of American Revolutionary War General Benedict Arnold, captioned as follows: Colonel Arnold who commanded the Provincial Troops sent against Quebec, through the wilderness of Canada and was wounded in that city, under General Montgomery. London. Published as the Act directs 26 March 1776 by Thos. Hart.” http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Benedict_Arnold_1color.jpg Two years before occurrences in book.
9. For Atmosphere: Invergarry Castle in the Scottish Highlands was the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry, a powerful branch of the Clan Donald. The castle’s position overlooking Loch Oich on Creagan an Fhithich – the Raven’s Rock – in the Great Glen, was a strategic one in the days of clan warfare. It is not certain when the first structure was erected on Creagan an Fhithich but there are at least two sites prior to the present castle. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inver-Garry_Castle.jpg
10. American sharpshooter or rifleman (rifleman) 2. regular infantry of Peensylvania. Engraving shows German versions of an American rifleman and a soldier with the Pennsylvania infantry, full-length, standing, facing each other, wearing military uniform, holding rifles. CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1784. ARTIST: Daniel Chodowiecki. ENGRAVER: Daniel Berger. REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1_Americanischer_Scharffsch%C3%BCtz_oder_J%C3%A4ger_%28Rifleman%29_2_regulaire_Infanterie_von_Pensylvanien.jpg
11. Infantry: Continental Army, 1779-1783, IV / H.A. Ogden ; lith. by G.H. Buek & Co., N.Y. Illustration depicts uniforms and weapons used during the 1779 to 1783 period of the American Revolution by showing four soldiers standing in an informal group. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Infantry,_Continental_Army,_1779-1783.jpg
12. Peggy Shippen (wife of Benedict Arnold) with one of her children, possibly her daughter Sophia (1785–1828) between circa and circa
13. For Atmosphere: Robert S. Duncanson, Scotch Highlands 1848-1852 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RobertDuncanson-Scotch_Highlands_c1848_1852.jpg