Dragonfly in Amber
First edition cover
|Series||Outlander series (book 2)|
|Published||1992 (Delacorte Press)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in the best-selling Outlander series written by Diana Gabaldon.
Her books are difficult to classify by genre, since they contain elements of romantic fiction, historical fiction, and science fiction. The stories center around a time-travelling 20th-century nurse (Claire Randall) and her 18th-century Scottish husband (Jamie Fraser), and are located in Scotland, France, the West Indies, and America.
|This section needs an improved plot summary. (March 2014)|
Dragonfly in Amber opens when Claire returns to Scotland with her twenty-year old daughter Brianna after the death of her husband, Frank Randall, whom Brianna believes is her natural father. Claire has two aims; one, hoping to find what happened to the men of Lallybroch after the battle of Culloden; and two, intending to confess to Brianna who her true father was and what happened when Claire disappeared in 1946. Claire takes her daughter to Inverness, to see Rvereand Wakefield, an Anglican minister, amateur historian and longtime friend of Frank. Rev. Wakefield lived with his great nephew, whom he adopted and gave his own last name to after the death of the boy's parents during the Blitz. Roger Wakefield, who'd been a small boy the last time Claire had seen him was now a professor of history at Oxford. Roger had taken a leave to clean the home following the Reverend's Death. Roger is smitten with Brianna at first sight. He gladly agreed to help Claire in her quest, though curious about her reasons for such an odd request. Using his Oxford credentials to obtain information she would never have had access to herself, he finds proof that the men of Lallybroch returned home safe. He accompanies mother and daughter on an outing to an abandoned churchyard at a the remains of a church not far from Lallybroch. After discovering Jamie Fraser's gravestone there, as part of a "marriage stone", showing her own name, but no date, Claire faints. After they bring her to she makes the decision to break the news of Brianna's true paternity to her and Roger Wakefield. Brianna angrily denies her mother's story, but Roger is fascinated. So to explain, the story then flashes back in time (literally and figuratively) to when Claire and Jamie lived in Paris after leaving the abbey at the end of Outlander.
Claire must start at the beginning, recounting the details of the three years she spent in the past with Jamie. She describes their attempt to change history by preventing Charles Stuart, known to history as "Bonnie Prince Charlie", from obtaining the funds needed to invade Britain. When they fail, they return to Lallybroch to live with Jamie's older sister Jenny and her husband and Jamie's lifelong best friend, Ian Murray. Ian has been managing the estate in Jamie's absence, since the death of Brian Fraser, Jamie and Jenny's father. Jamie and Claire bring with them a ten year old French urchin Jamie had rescued and hired as his pickpocket, to intercept mail between Prince Charles and suspected wealthy Jacobites. The boy had only a first name, Claudel, having grown up in a brothel, where he also had been used at times. Jamie described the terms of employment, brought the young orphan to live with Claire and himself, and renamed him Fergus.
As the story develops, we learn about Claire and Jamie Fraser's fight to stop the 1745 Jacobite rebellion and the bloody battles, including that of battle of Culloden - and also why Claire returned to the future.
At the end of Outlander, Claire convinced Jamie that they should do everything possible to stop the Jacobite Rising and the slaughter that would follow. After learning that Charles Stuart is trying to get money from the French King, Louis XV, they travel to Paris. In Paris, Jamie agrees to work with his cousin Jared, running his wine business and, since many of his French relatives are Jacobites and are well placed in society, secures meetings with Charles Edward Stuart (also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) and many well-to-do members of the French aristocracy and bourgeoisie. So, while running Jared Fraser's wine business, Jamie and Claire begin to plot against the Bonnie Prince.
However, their lives are soon interrupted by the arrival of Jack Randall, who Jamie and Claire thought had died at Wentworth Prison. Jamie, despite promising Claire that he would spare Randall's life in order to spare Claire's previous husband, Frank, challenges Randall to a duel in the Bois de Boulogne. Though he doesn't kill the man, he does wound him and renders him impotent. And, after she witnesses the duel, Claire loses the child she was carrying and is taken away to l'Hôpital des Anges, where they believe she won't recover. Jamie is sent to the Bastille for the crime of dueling.
Scotland, 1745 and the Rising
After recovering from her illness, Claire manages to free Jamie from prison. A condition of his release is that they must leave France, so they sail to Scotland. (Fortunately, Jamie is pardoned for his crimes). Once in Scotland, Claire and Jamie settle into farm life at Jamie's home at Lallybroch, with his sister, Jenny, and her family. However, Jamie receives a letter from Charles Stuart, announcing his attempt to retake the throne of Scotland. There is no escape, as Charles has had Jamie's name on the letter as one of his supporters. The Rising has begun.
Seeing no option but to fight for the Stuarts, Jamie gathers the men of Lallybroch to join the Stuart army. They fight and win at the battle of Prestonpans, but the tide soon turns against the Jacobites. The Rising culminates in the disastrous battle of Culloden. Jamie, knowing that the Scots won't win at Culloden, takes Claire and heads for Craig na Dun, where he forces her to travel back to her own time, to spare her the battle's aftermath. Before she goes, however, Jamie tells Claire that he knows she is pregnant again. After sending her through the stones, Jamie returns to Culloden, intending to die.
The lengthy flashback ends and the reader learns that Brianna is the child Claire was carrying through the stones. Frank asked Claire where she had been during her absence but refused to believe her, thinking she was mentally unstable. Claire told him to leave her but suspecting he was sterile and desperate for a child, he asked Claire to allow him to be father to her baby and only tell Brianna the truth after his death. Brianna refuses to believe Claire and Claire enlists Roger's help by revealing his true parentage to him as the great great grandson of Geilie Duncan and Dougal. They witness Geilie Duncan/Gillian Edgars' disappearance through the stone circle and the novel ends with Roger informing Claire that Jamie didn't die at Culloden.
- "Fiction Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber". PublishersWeekly.com. June 29, 1992. Retrieved November 23, 2013.