By Diana Gabaldon, 1994, Time Travel Romance (18th Century Scotland)
Delacourte, $25.95, 870 pages ISBN #0-385-30232-0
Third in the Outlander series, comprised of:
Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, and The Fiery Cross
Voyager, the third installment in Diana Gabaldons Outlander series, is a sharp contrast to the previous book, Dragonfly in Amber. Whereas Dragonfly began and ended with Claire and Jamie separated for twenty years, Voyager, as the title indicates, is the story of Claires return to the past and to Jamie.
After finding out that Jamie survived the battle of Culloden, Claire makes the heartwrenching decision to leave her grown up daughter, Brianna behind in the present, and after a hilarious scene at a shop that sells period costumes, Claire finds her way back to the stones of Craigh na Dun and Jamie, who lives under various guises as merchant, printer and smuggler
Their reunion is passionate but not peaceful for long. Jamie and Claire’s efforts to save his nephew, Ian take them to the West Indies where they meet Geillis Duncan, the time traveller from Outlander, who not only holds the boy hostage for her own sinister purposes, but who also threatens Brianna all the way in the twentieth century. Their final escape hurls them into a storm that nearly kills them all, but lands them in a new world – together.
Throughout the many twists, turns and revelations of incidents past, we never doubt Jamie. Not when he is constantly thrown from one danger to another, not even when he warns Claire that she might not want the man he has become. Her answer is our own, and her implicit trust in him is truly justified as he tries to explain every circumstance that fate has thrown at him. But he has changed. He has been forced by blackmail and loneliness into a loveless marriage with one woman and to father a son on another. These relationships will be explored in further installments of the series.
Claire has been dealt a rough hand in some ways, and she has also become tougher during the twenty years of separation from Jamie. Her profession of surgeon serves her well in this book and her decades of loneliness in the 20th century, while remembering the love she shared with Jamie, only strengthen that love when they rediscover each other and she sees how very much he has changed. Claire clings to the chance of happiness she knows she is lucky to have, even if it means leaving behind her beloved daughter.
The scene where Claire shows Jamie photographs of his daughter Brianna, taken at many stages in her life, is heartbreakingly tender with the pain of what could have been. Claire and Jamie do not dwell on this, but instead face each new challenge together. Old friends and nemeses are back, each of them adding their own piece of the puzzle to this intricate story, but Jamie and Claire are, again, the center of it all. We know them now and we cheer for each victory and despair at each cruel twist of fate.
In the end, the theme of Voyager is one of tremulous hope. Hope, because this is a new beginning for Claire and Jamie. After all their misunderstandings and disagreements have been dealt with, they find themselves on a new continent which represents their new chance at a life together. Tremulous because, lets face it, this is a Gabaldon novel, and we have not only Drums of Autumn after this installment, but two, or perhaps three more books. In any case, Voyager is a well-crafted work, not overwhelmed by the carefully detailed research that has gone into it, but supported by it.