This week we read up to the end of chapter sixteen which is part way through part three, and next week we will continue with part three and read all of part four.
In this section we were given an interesting insight into eighteenth century laws and politics by Ned Gowan and Dougal. Ned explains to Claire how rent is paid and how lairds (or those trusted by the laird in this case, due to Colom’s lack of mobility) are required to travel their lands and collect what is owed to them, often in the form of money but sometimes livestock.
Dougal also uses this time to cause a stir and encourage support for the Jacobite cause. He does this by assembling a large group of villagers in the pub during the evenings and revealing Jamie’s scarred back from the lashings given to him by Black Jack Randall and the English forces. He rallies support and collects what money the villagers can afford to give for Bonny Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause.
This section of the book was really about Claire and Jamie and the building of their relationship. Dougal learns that Randall intends to take Claire and, in order to protect her from his clutches, she must marry a Scot. It’s nice to see the Mackenzies trusting Claire and accepting her as one of their own, even if she does intend to escape. So Jamie and Claire get married.
We learn a lot about Jamie in this section. He is very noble and intends to protect his new wife with his life. He recognises the importance of the bond and insists that they are married properly with a ceremony and a gown for Claire. We really see how much he cares for Claire and how much he respects the institution of marriage.
There’s a particularly funny section where both are nervous as they are expected to consummate the marriage but first Claire blurts out ‘tell me about your family’ and the two talk about their lives and get to know each other. They agree on an all honesty policy but allow some secrets to remain. We learn a lot about Jamie’s family and his past here.
Eventually the marriage is consummated and Claire forgets about her relationship with Frank, if only temporarily. Frank is not yet alive, and though she was unwillingly taken from him and she does still love him, she accepts that she has to approach her new life as a recent widow and not as though she is cheating on her husband, Frank.
There’s a lot of tenderness between Jamie and Claire here as we see their relationship and the affection for one another build. Though there’s not a lot of action in this section, it’s an important time for their relationship.