So this week my friend, at bookgeekwrites.wordpress.com, and I read part two of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Part two is largely about Claire getting to grips with living at Castle Leoch, and establishing a routine. She starts to get a feel for the castle and the way of life there, and is given a role at the castle, which is to take over from the late Davie Beaton as the castle healer. She goes to work organising the cupboards and their contents. It was really interesting to read about the various ailments and eighteenth century ‘cures’ pre-antibiotics.
We are also introduced to Geilis. I really like Geilis as a character. I’m sure Claire appreciates that kind of friendship, and sharing of hobbies. Us fans of the TV programme also know later why Geilis becomes such an important character. She’s a really interesting individual to read and I enjoyed all of the parts with Geilis.
We’re also given a further insight into the methods of punishment used in the eighteenth century and as readers we have a similar reaction to Claire, a ‘modern’ women, who sees barbarity in the types of punishments. Of course, Claire can’t help but to get involved.
Laoghaire’s character is explored more in this part too. We see the extent to which she admires Jamie, and it’s funny to see her reactions when she is given the chance to talk to him. Jamie is a little rude to her at the ceremony – not deliberately, I’m sure – and you find yourself feeling a little bad for her. But of course I’m routing for Claire and Jamie so Laoghaire and Jamie’s liaison in the alcove is soon forgotten.
Interestingly, Claire has a real respect for Colom, the extent of which was less clear, at least for me, in the programme. I think her lack of attempts to leave lie partly down to the respect she holds for the laird. Saying that, we do see her first futile attempt at escaping during the ceremony, but when she is initially unsuccessful, she seems to give up on it quite quickly. Though we do hear that she will attempt to escape when she goes away with Dougal and the gang in the next section, she expresses little desire to get back to the twentieth century. I was expecting more attempts to leave and more about Frank and her old life. Perhaps subconsciously Claire has already decided that she wants to stay in the eighteenth century, though she hasn’t quite admitted it to herself yet?
There were a couple of sections that made me feel really uncomfortable, when Claire is trying to get back to her room during the ceremony and some men try to take advantage of her. Though initially saved by Dougal, I felt really uncomfortable reading about his ‘punishment’ for her being out of her room. Similarly, we are quickly introduced to death, as one hunter is killed on their quest to kill a boar. Though Claire is able to quickly further demonstrate her doctoring abilities, the harsh realities of death really sober the mood, and indicate how the rest of the series will continue. Gabaldon certainly does not shy away from the ‘big’ topics.
Again, I really enjoyed this section. For me it was really about world building, allowing the characters come to terms with the time and place, as well as Claire. I’m looking forward to reading the next section, which will be the start of part three, until page 320.