Book Review: A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander #6) by Diana Gabaldon
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
“All I want, is for you to love me. Not because of what I can do or what I look like, or because I love you - just because I am.”
Jamie, an 18th-century highlander, and his wife Claire, a 20th-century doctor, continue their life together in the mountains of North Carolina in 1772. They are ready to settle and put the past behind them, wanting to focus on their quiet life with family and tenants, but the War of Independence is coming, and Jamie needs to choose a side. Together with this and the newspaper clipping found in the future foretelling their deaths, Jamie and Claire’s lives are far from quiet.
I began reading my mum’s early copies of the major novels in this series before the TV series aired. These “big, enormous books” as Diana Gabaldon calls them are definitely that, so it’s taking a while to get through them. The size if far from a complaint. I love how Gabaldon’s vivid descriptions help me to frequently forget I’m actually reading. It’s the best kind of writing- to be so completely immersed in the world.
The last few books in this series have reminded me of The Australian’s series by William Stuart Long. The history is fascinating in both series, especially how pioneers survived, lived and progressed. Being Australian, we weren’t taught much American history while growing up. It has been interesting to be invited into this world and see the extent the war had on people’s everyday lives, sometimes very unexpectedly. Throughout the book, there is an increasing sense of war looming and the division of peoples loyalties, which causes many heartbreaking moments. These stories are interspersed with many loving and humorous moments.
“Ye come here acting the great one, carousing and showing away like a sailor come ashore with prize money in his pocket— but have we any evidence that your words are more than puffery? Puffery, I say, sir!”
Jamie and Claire’s relationship is as strong as ever, as is Roger and Brianna’s. Although Claire has let go of her life in the future, Roger and Brianna have not and are still adjusting. Claire continues to have a variety of patients to heal. Lord John maintains contact, sending much needed gifts. Jamie continues to be a rock to all those around him, reminding me of the honourable men in my own life. I enjoyed that Roger and Fergus found their own usefulness in the world and that Ian and Brianna share details left unsaid in previous books.
The copy of this book I read contains an interview with Diana Gabaldon. She revealed that the series wasn’t supposed to include time travel, but Claire’s character refused to behave as an 18th-century lady would: “…when I introduced an Englishwoman into the plot, and she refused to shut up and talk like an eighteenth-century person. Just kept making smart-ass modern remarks about everything she saw—and took over and started telling the story herself…To which I replied…go ahead and be modern; I’ll figure out how you got there later.”
And I’m glad. The series would be so different otherwise. This probably caused the addition of Claire’s first-person narration and the other characters in the third person. This is something different, which personally helps draw me into the world.
The ending was as emotional as ever, even though it wasn’t surrounded by drama (as compared to the third book Voyager. I stayed up late to read the ending of this one and couldn’t get to sleep. It freaked me out!)
After a little breathing room in the form of smaller books (or maybe I’ll start on Lord John’s series!), I can’t wait to see what the War of Independence brings. And perhaps, one day, Jamie will experience a hot shower and Roger’s Mini Cooper.
Read: April/May 2019