Brianna did it. She went through the stones. She arrives at Lallybroch. She meets the Murrays to their surprise and happiness. She also meets a vengeful woman and her brother. Brianna stands up for herself and her mother. A lengthy letter makes it wild and worth the trip. She bonds with her Uncle. She clears the air of her intention. She connects with this place so a part of her though she’s never been. To the Colonies, she will go.
Inside the Chapter:
Chapter 34 Lallybroch
Scotland, June 1769
Brianna is on horseback. Brutus is his name. He flawlessly, if not swiftly has carried her on General Wade’s old military roads, the bad roads, and the red deer track trails on her way to Lallybroch. She looks out over the valley below and sees Lallybroch. It matches the description her mother told her, down to the kailyard. Rising smoke from the chimney indicates someone is home. She is nervous and excited. Who would she meet first? Will they believe her story of who she was and why she had come? Her story was based on as much truth as possible. She brought evidence with her. They would have to believe her. Could her parents be there right now?
A horse carrying a tall brown-haired man approaches her from behind. He was wary of her until he got close enough to realize she was a woman. She’s a big woman and looks like a man from a distance. This is to her advantage when traveling alone. She tells the man her name, he’s puzzled and shares his with her, Jamie Fraser Murray of Broch Tuarach (p576, Nook). His reaction is perfect. Jenny is going to birth some form of an animal to be sure.
Brianna notices the carved lintel over the door, Fraser, 1716 it said. Brianna instinctively ducks while going through the door (p576, Nook). She thinks how little family she has in the twentieth century, one distant cousin of her dad Frank. Here she will have a large family connection to her. Jamie’s son Matthew goes running past being chased by his sister Janet. Matthew comments on Brianna’s choice of clothing (p578, Nook). Matthew discloses Jenny and Ian are in the back parlor with a man and a woman who are eating a large amount of food. Jamie sends the boy to get his granny, Jenny.
Jamie tries to get Janet to guess who Brianna is related to. She figures it out with great surprise. Enter Jenny Murray (p579, Nook). Just as Young Jamie is introducing Brianna, the woman from the parlor joins the group (p579, Nook). Jenny admonishes Laoghaire for her foolishness and tells her this is a lass, not a man. Laoghaire looks at Brianna for the first time (p580, Nook). The realization Jamie Fraser could have married again chills Brianna to the bone. She thinks of her mother and is horrified she could have found Jamie with another wife when she went through the stones. She wants to run out of the house and keep on running. She is like her mother in some ways. Young Jamie steers her to a place to sit. In the room she sees two men, one asks her name. It’s Ian Murray, her uncle. She feels safer in his presence until Laoghaire comes in havering up to high heaven (p581, Nook). I need a dram or two after this scene.
Brianna asks after her mother, Ian assures Brianna that Claire is with Jamie. Laoghaire cannot help herself. She says the pearls are hers by right (p583, Nook). Brianna snatches the pearls off the table and holds them tightly. Brianna addresses Laoghaire without success. Laoghaire calls Jamie a bastard and says he married her under pretenses four years earlier. Laoghaire explains that Jamie left her (p584, Nook). As if insulting Jamie and her mother wasn’t enough, she insults Brianna, calling her a witch’s child (p585, Nook). The Fraser anger rises in Brianna, and she lets Laoghaire have it (p585, Nook). Hobart leads a stunned Laoghaire out of the room to take her home. Laoghaire must have the last words and leaves Brianna with a parting twist of the tongue (p586, Nook). I am in love with Brianna here. She is coming into her own as a confident woman, as a Fraser daughter.
They finish dinner with the joy of Brianna, the joy that Jamie has his child. She’s thankful that Laoghaire’s accusations of Jamie were untrue. He was the man her mother said he was. Brianna asks if they know where her mother and Jamie are. They basically do, and Ian offers to show her a letter from her parents. Following Jenny, Brianna stops and notices a portrait on the wall with her father as a child in it. Jenny shows her a painting of her mother, Ellen. Brianna gasped when she saw it. Brianna looks remarkably like Ellen MacKenzie. The painting will hang in the National Portrait Gallery in two hundred years. Ellen painted the portrait herself. Brianna’s talent for drawing and painting comes from her grandmother. Jenny explains how she came into possession of the painting. Ned Gowan brought it to her from Leoch. Brianna feels a stab of grief for those lost. We learn that Jenny never saw Leoch for herself and now it’s gone.
Brianna follows Jenny into the bedroom. Jenny finds the letter and explains they live in the Colony of North Carolina but not near any towns. She explains it’s difficult for him to write since his hand was broken “that time.” Brianna knows the whole story behind the broken hand; Jenny does not. Brianna recognizes the writing. The letter is from the prior September. Young Ian sent a porpentine (porcupine) skull for Young Jamie’s boys. Jamie included a gift for Jenny. He explains Claire’s manner of communicating with the elderly Indian woman who made it (p591, Nook). He goes on to document his homesteading work and the local bear population. Fergus acquired a new large kettle, and a hearty stew was made in it (p592, Nook). Tomatoes have an interesting and rich history. The white sow is close to birth, so he placed her in the pantry. This does not please the sow or Claire. Tuscarora hunters came looking to hunt the bear. Young Ian and Rollo accompanied them on their journey. There was quite an adventure in the night of the 22nd (p593, Nook). Jenny interrupts Brianna’s reading to ask if she still plans on going to such a wild place and to show her the leather bag that Jamie sent. She is relieved Brianna is not afraid to go to the Colonies and on to Fraser’s Ridge, but she wants her to stay for a couple of days.
Now alone Brianna rereads the letter slowly, and she can almost see the man in the letter in front of her. She gets to the part she was interrupted by Jenny (p595, Nook). There were still two more pages to go. By now it was mid-October. Jamie and Ian wrote (p597, Nook). Young Ian told of his measles illness and his restored health. Brianna thought Lallybroch to be primitive, but the Colonies were indeed a more wild and dangerous place.
Ian takes Brianna on a tour of the farm and the property. She sees all is in good condition and the animals healthy. Ian was sporting his kilt to the surprise of Jenny and Young Jamie (p599, Nook). Brianna thinks about how the kilt, swords, pistols, and bagpipes were hidden away after Culloden. At first, she thinks of the items as symbols of pride conquered, but that wasn’t quite right (p599, Nook). Ian was pleased Brianna asked to see the property. She’d be leaving in a week’s time to board a ship to the Colonies. She thought it was a beautiful place. Brianna thinks she sees a cairn (p600, Nook). They walk a long way and up to the top of a hill. They can see the whole valley. Ian pulls out a stone bottle and remarks it was Claire’s doing he has teeth (p601, Nook). Ian thinks Claire knew what she was about seeing how braw Brianna is.
Ian wishes he could see Jamie’s face when he meets Brianna. She is so much like him. Ian explains there wasn’t much time during his last visit with Claire to Lallybroch to tell them about her and there was a great moil. He lets her know why Jenny is anxious for her to leave (p602, Nook). Brianna asks what Jenny had to do with Laoghaire. Oh, GIRL, your hair is going to curl when you hear what she had to do with it. Ian is surprised at how much knowledge Brianna has of Jamie’s history. He goes on to explain Jamie’s countenance when he returned from England after being in Ardsmuir and the contrast to him after Culloden (p602, Nook). They climbed up to where Jamie had lived as Dunbonnet. Brianna entered the cave and immediately felt entombed. She had no idea how Jamie lived there for seven years but thinks maybe she could if she had to. She was a Fraser after all. She sat outside the cave becoming part of the nature surrounding it. This is something her mother and father do. She connects to it and thinks she understands why Jamie could tolerate his time in the cave. One word explained it, solitude (p604, Nook). She leaves a small memory offering before heading down to Ian.
She asks Ian about the legality of wearing his kilt. Soldiers hadn’t come in a long time. There was nothing left of value to the soldiers; only the land was left. Ian asks Brianna to have a question answered by Jamie when she finds him (p605, Nook). Brianna assures him Jame wouldn’t want to change who has Lallybroch and Brianna doesn’t want it. Ian thinks she knows an awful lot about what Jamie will do even though she hasn’t met him. Of course, Claire would have told her all about Jamie (p605, Nook). Claire was indeed special.
Brianna asks about something Laoghaire said. She had used the word fetch when going on about Brianna’s mother Claire interfering with her marriage to Jamie (p606, Nook). Getting back to why Jamie married her, Ian tells her Jamie was like a ghost with no spark in him (p606, Nook). Jenny made the match with the intention of helping Jamie (p606, Nook). Brianna is relieved at hearing the tale of Laoghaire and Jamie’s response to Claire’s return.
There’s much to unpack in this chapter. First, Jamie has a child, and his family is shocked. Second, the Laoghaire incident. Brianna was brilliant! Third, the worry over Jamie wanting Brianna to have the property. Four, Brianna finding her connection and realizing she’s no longer alone. She has a huge family. Five, the letter from The Ridge and the realization it is a dangerous and precarious place she will be going. Six, Jamie and Claire are together and happy. Seven, Jenny has guilt, and she’s terrible at direct communication when it counts. Thankfully Ian is excellent at deciphering and communicating what is necessary. Eight, Jenny Murray is a sensitive person underneath her steel. Nine, Brianna has come into her own as a woman. She has matured and has the combined strength of her mother and her fathers. There are so many literary elements at play and excellent depth of character development as we see through Brianna’s eyes the family she’s only heard of and her realizing her mother did an excellent job in relaying who they are. I think Claire prepared Brianna extraordinarily well without meaning to for her journey back in time. We cannot forget about Frank being an expert on this time in history. Brianna certainly would have read his works.
What’s Coming up? Chapters 35-36 Drums of Autumn (DOA).
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