Outlander & Aye
“A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored young Highlander at close range is breath-taking.”_Diana Gabaldon, Outlander.
My husband got his DNA results around the same time as me and he’s pretty flippin’ Scottish. He already knew some of this, knows the name of his family’s clan on his grandfather’s side: Macgregor. Cool for him and cool for me because I do so love a Scottish boy. That accent tho. Like, don’t even. Guh.
Diana Gabaldon has written about a billion pages about an English woman (a Sassenach) called Claire and a Scottish man called Jamie Fraser in the Outlander series. Outlander has now been adapted into a TV show which returned to Starz last week or so.
A lot of people like to go back and forth and argue over whether Outlander is feminist or anti-feminist and there are certain scenes that people like to use to prove it’s not or it is (like when Jamie spanks Claire for “disobeying him.”) I don’t argue on the Internet and the reason I say this so often is because sometimes it’s all I see. People picking apart everylittlething someone says or does and flying into a rage about it and it’s not a part of my life. There are a lot of things I simply love even though, no…they’re not perfect. There are racist things and sexist things and this is Earth and there is sin and there is darkness. (Gabaldon could put a trigger warning on it, yes, because some awful things happen in the book. So if you are particularly sensitive to things, read a bit about it before you dig in!) All of that being said, yes…I dig the Outlander series with a true love.
Let’s all have a moment to dreamy sigh over Sam Heughan saying Sassenach. And here’s a recent interview with the charming Scotsman. (I especially love “Has anyone ever stayed mad at a blue-eyed Scotsman drinking scotch on a leather love seat while wearing a leather jacket?”)
Okay so I’d heard of the Outlander series but didn’t know if it was for me because people talk about the time-travel side of it and I’m not really a science fiction girl. But my dear friend, Sarah Jane, a woman I love and trust and met in an acting class in college years and years ago told me about Outlander and how she was obsessed with it and how it was her favorite series of books ever and how she read them over and over and over again and her face lit up when she talked about them. Not with Sarah, because she is one of my dearest friends…but in general…I’m ruheally distrustful by nature…BUT I trust that in people. I love the wide, crazy-eyed smile of a fangirl.
I get so excited about whatever it is they’re talking about, even if I’m not into it. And when she was telling me about it, I’d just finished writing my book/getting it out into the world and halfway through working on my novel and really wanted to read something different…something so not like what I was writing or used to writing or reading or used to reading.
In the series we have Claire and Jamie back in time, it’s 1743. And two hundred years in the future, Claire is married to Frank in 1946. Claire is a bit torn at first when she touches the magical stones and is suddenly zapped back to eighteenth century Scotland…but then she meets Jamie, has to marry Jamie and Jamie is a huge red-headed Scottish warrior monster of love sooo she is okay with it. Aye. Aye.
And now since the series is an enrapturing television show, we get to look at the visually pleasing credits and listen to the theme song because it is pretty and wistful and makes us want to light a candle in the forest and gently sway and spin in the Scottish gloaming as the full moon rises, golden and pulling.
When the wedding episode aired, Twitter lit up with people hashtagging #OutlanderWedding and I got special wine and snacks to watch it. (Rhenish and sharp cheeses, some fancy meats.) I watched it seven times. Lots of people have written about the female gaze/sexuality re: the show. Check out Outlander and the Female Gaze over at The Huffington Post and Roxane Gay recapped episodes for Vulture last season and now she writes them for The Toast. The wedding episode was sexy and steamy and also cute and adorable and totally did the book justice. In this show, these books…the Claire/Jamie sex is actually sexy. Sometimes after I watch an episode I just text Sarah Jane the emoji with the huge, surprise-eyes and she knows exactly what I mean. Just. All hail the female gaze.
It’s hard to say what sort of books they are because they’re historical fiction, romance…time-travel. There are so many and they are so long! But also…they are resplendent and there is much adventure and love and pining and everything, always! I love romance. Love reading it, love writing it. Gabaldon has such an gorgeous way of describing Jamie’s red hair. Check it: sun glinting on his hair as though on a trove of gold and copper coins.
She writes about his hair a lot, his body. Jamie is an impressive sword fighter and it’s not long until he and the other men train Claire on how best to protect herself—exactly where to stab a man (reach around the back, beneath the last rib and stab straight upward into the kidney!) in order to kill him. Jamie is protective and sexy and alpha male and Claire is anything but submissive. She is stubborn, holds her own with him. It’s always fun to read. Jamie says stuff like this: “Open your legs…I mean to be sure you’ll remember me while I’m gone” and “You are safe. You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well. The man willna lay hands on ye again, while I live.”
“I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower’s stem.”
“I talk to you as I talk to my own soul,” he said, turning me to face him. He reached up and cupped my cheek, fingers light on my temple. “And Sassenach,” he whispered, “Your face is my heart.”
“…sitting and waiting is one of the most miserable occupations known to man—not that it usually is known to men; women do it much more often.”
There is a Pocket Jamie Fraser I downloaded and like to take on adventures. I quite enjoy disappearing inside these books. I like to listen to the audiobooks too. Sometimes I turn on the audiobook and just go outside and wander around in the sun, go work in the garden…whatever. The audiobooks are read by Davina Porter and I’d be fine with her reading a play-by-play of my entire life in that beautiful British lilt. And my sweet friend Elizabeth hosts a podcast called Picture Shows & Petticoats and one day I’ll be on there talking about my Outlander love too.
Such pleasant, epic escapism! Prettymuch anything that can happen to anyone happens in these books! So much of everything all the time! The characters are cozily familiar to me because I’ve spent so much time with them already. There is SO MUCH Outlander stuff out there. I like to go WAY DEEP into the Outlander Internet. Look at this gorgeous Outlander Anatomy website! There are Outlander recipes! Knitting patterns! (I knit a bunch of Claire’s cowls for my myself and my girlfriends in the fall.) And Buzzfeed wrote a thing re: the gorgeous Outlander knits too.
I mentioned it in my DNA reveal but I do really wanna go on the Outlander tour of Scotland. I read about it so much and I wanna see it! Listen. I have cried over this series. I got chills writing this! I am so emotionally-attached to it, all of it. I am hella invested and happily in too deep with no regrets. And you can trust me on all of this because I’m a bigtime fangirl. Aye.