Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delacorte Press on July 1, 1992
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
“D’ye think I don’t know?” he asked softly. “It’s me that has the easy part now. For if ye feel for me as I do for you-then I’m asking you to tear out your heart and live without it.”
This quote encapsulates exactly what Diana Gabaldon asked of me when I opened this book – to tear out my heart and live without it for 743 pages.
Season 2 of Outlander was absolute torture for me to watch so the thought of picking up Dragonfly in Amber was something I wasn’t looking forward to. But I needed my answers and I wanted to know how Gabaldon wrote the second installment. Since this is a second book and most of my thoughts are not spoiler-free, this review will not be either. So if you haven’t read book 2, then click off until you have.
Most of my bitterness lies with the writers of the show, but when I picked up the book I was extremely bitter with Gabaldon. Season 2 was unbearable because they start out the show telling you exactly what goes down within the first fifteen minutes, then make you watch a subsequent 12 episodes of the play-by-play. Gabaldon does something similar but not quite to the extent that the TV show writers did (something I’ll go into depth about if I ever do a TV show review). And the little reader’s note added at the beginning now made me feel better.
Just getting down to the nitty gritty: I loathe that there’s the twenty year time jump and the fact that Claire went back to her own time. I hate when couples get split up in series, and a split up this excruciatingly long doesn’t help. If I hadn’t watched the show already, this book would’ve been hard to get through. I barely made it through season 2.
Jamie and Claire in France definitely wasn’t my favorite. The story sort of seems to drag a little compared to the excitement of book one. They get so domestic and boring. There’s loads of time jumps and just quick explanations of their day-to-day because they literally sit and just host dinner parties. If I had to choose, I’d choose watching the Paris section because it was more interesting with the focus on secondary characters. Claire spends most of the first half helping with the charity hospital while Jamie is gone dealing with politics. There was some excitement but nothing quite like book one.
Claire also grated on my nerves so much more in this book than she ever did in Outlander. It felt like she made tons of poor decisions and did a lot of putting the blame on other people (specifically Jamie). She had also asked a lot of Jamie that I felt was unfair the second time around. I mean, c’mon Claire. If you have no intention of returning to your own time then who cares what happens to Frank? I sure didn’t. Just let Jamie kill Jack Randall once and for all. He’s the worst person ever!! Oof, don’t even get me started on when she miscarried and tried to pin it all on Jamie because of the duel. There were so many red flags and bad decisions she made that I felt contributed just as equally to what ended up happening that it wasn’t just Jamie’s fault. I just wasn’t her biggest fan this time around.
Honestly, both characters made questionable decisions in this book. Jamie got a little weird and aggressive at times. Claire insanely stupid or selfish.
However, for all my whining and complaining, Dragonfly in Amber does introduce us to some of my favorite characters (Fergus). Some that I hope play as big a role in the books as they do on the show.
The bottom line is: I respect Gabaldon for what she did with the series. Did I like the twist? The huge time jump? Heck no. But as a reader and lover of stories, I respect the creative choices she made and I understand why. Still…this book tears my heart out as it continues to show me how far off I was from what I thought this series was going to be.
Because this book is (at least currently) my least favorite, I can’t wait to get my hands on Voyager. Dragonfly in Amber leaves off on a delicious cliffhanger that I can’t wait to see how the story is meant to play out.
(only because I am still bitter about the turn of events)