Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon


Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 1992

Genre: fantasy, historical fiction, adventure, romance

The Premise

From the fine folks at Goodreads:

For nearly twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones… about a love that transcends the boundaries of time… and about Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart… in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising… and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.

I should note that I listened to the audiobook read by Davina Porter.

The Good

  • Everyone’s favorite time-traveling WWII nurse! Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser: strong, feisty, stubborn, passionate, and, probably my favorite characteristic of hers, practical. Also, if you’re into this sort of thing, there’s Claire’s husband, Jamie Fraser: 18th century Highlander, smoldering sexy kilt-wearer, ginger. Both are great characters, well-drawn, extremely likable, but still flawed in their own ways.
  • A trip to 18th century Paris! Claire and Jamie are off to 18th century Paris to try to stop the impending Jacobite rebellion that Claire (thanks to some her 20th century history classes) knows will wreak havoc on the Scottish Highlands for generations to come. Gabaldon has clearly done a wee bit of historical research, and she brings the court of Louis XV to life in all its brilliance and weirdness. (Seriously…the gossip! the drama! the nipple dress! weird-ass occult stuff!). It was refreshing to get away from the Scottish Highlands for a bit.
  • The quiet bits. So there’s a lot happening in this book between: intrigue, duels, sacrifice, deaths, plot twists, etc. It’s all good stuff, but some of the parts I enjoyed most were the quieter, quotidien stuff in between all that plot: Claire’s adventures in L’Hôpital des Anges, including everything involving Bouton, who i’m pretty sure is on my top ten literary dogs list; Jaime coming home stupid drunk after partying with Charles Stuart, pretender to the throne; all the stuff with Fergus. It’s the sort of book where I just want to hang out with these characters while they do whatever in this super well-drawn world. Fortunately for me, there are eight massive tomes in the series!
  • Davina Porter, the reader of the audiobook, is amazing! Distinct voices and accents for all of the characters. Manages to do male voices without sounding creepy or jarring (Seriously… her Jaime voice is great).

The Bad

  • The book opens up with Claire and her daughter in 1968 Inverness, and it is jarring. The heart of the story (Claire and Jaime in France and Scotland) is actually a flashback as Claire tells her story. This made the book extremely difficult for me to get into to the point that this is actually my fourth attempt at reading the book. I understand why Gabaldon used this framing device, but it really didn’t work for me.

The Verdict

4/5 stars. I’m totally on board for this series and am looking forward to listening to the rest of the books, all 200+ hours of them!

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