Trigger warning for sexual abuse, child abuse and rape.
When last we left Claire and Jamie, the battle of Culloden was about to begin and fearing for the safety of Claire and the child Jamie encourages Claire to pass through the stones for a second time. It will be twenty years before the two star crossed lovers see each other again and of course, the path of true love most certainly cannot run smoothly.
I don't even know where to being with this review because having read Dragonfly in Amber, I sincerely thought this series couldn't get in any worse but more fool me. The Outlander series has always necessitated suspending belief, otherwise the very premise - a woman traveling through the stones and ending up 200 years in the past would be a non starter. There is only so far an author can ask a reader to do this and Gabaldon moves well beyond this point with Voyager. Too many improbable incidents happen throughout the novel which of course, Jamie and Claire just magically manage to escape from, along with far too many ridiculous interactions with characters from the past. The number of coincidences and repeat meetings are outright ridiculous:
- Jamie and Claire just happen to run into a minister who is a serial killer of prostitutes
- Claire gets shipwrecked and just happens to run into a scientist Jamie met in Scotland.
- Jamie marries the woman who tried to have Claire killed
- Geillies Duncan isn't really dead and shows up long enough to be evil and inspire a slave rebellion
- Lord Grey who is still in love with Jamie, first works as the warden of the prison Jamie is kept in and then just happens to be posted to Jamaica, as governor, at the moment that Claire and Jamie really need official help.
- The hurricane which sinks the man-o-war which is chasing Jamie and Claire's boat and just happens to carry them 600 miles across the ocean to America
I could have taken the journey had any of these leaps made any kind of logical sense but it all came down to believe this shite because Gabaldon wrote it.
One of the things I learned reading Voyager, is that one of the worst things a woman can do as she ages is get fat. The requirement of thinness of course makes Claire (oh she of the perfect, ever so white skin) stand out and in case you are in any doubt at all, Jamie makes sure to tell Claire so repeatedly. A little thing like medicine and the proper nutrition of the twentieth century didn't give Claire the advantage did it? Women pale in Claire's shadow and most certainly, Laoghaire and Geillis Duncan.
First, it's worth mentioning that the fact that Jamie just happened to marry Laoghaire, who tried to have Claire murdered, is ridiculous but I suppose that Gabaldon felt that all ties with Scotland had to be neatly bound. Did anyone even care about this character to begin with? It's perfectly understandable that Jamie would try to move on with his life after Claire left and so I fail to understand why he wouldn't just tell her about his marriage, rather than have Claire, find out by having Laoghaire burst into their bedroom. Did this story really need more angst and drama? From the beginning, Laoghaire didn't hold a candle to Claire but this had to be reasserted for some reason. Then we have Geillies, who we were lead to believe had died. Her reappearance comes down to a lack of imagination. Did Gabaldon think that readers simply couldn't handle a new character as evil. Of course, the once bonnie Geillies is now hideously fat and unhealthy, with her size increasing in direct proportion to the evil that she does. Gabaldon is none to subtle with her fat hatred here.
We also know that Geillies is evil because she is a rapist. For some reason, Gabaldon seems absolutely fascinated with rape and so far, each of the books in the series has either had a rape scene or very much implied it. In this case, Geillies has young boys kidnapped and then she drugs them and rapes them. We do have a scene in which Young Ian talks about how his body reacted to the sexual stimulation, though he didn't want to be touched. It was good to have Jamie empathising with Ian, having been through this situation himself but it still begs the question of why Gabaldon felt the need to include the rape in the first place? It's as though a story for her isn't complete unless it includes some gratuitous rape.
Geillies isn't even the only rapist in this novel. Yes, that's right, our favourite red headed Scotsman after being blackmailed into taking Geneva's virginity, ends up raping her.
Stop it! It’s too big! Take it out!” Panicked, Geneva thrashed beneath him. Pressed beneath his chest, her breasts wobbled and rubbed, so that his own nipples leapt erect in pinpoints of abrupt sensation.
Her struggles were accomplishing by force what he had tried to do with gentleness. Half-dazed, he fought to keep her under him, while groping madly for something to say to calm her.
“But—” he said.
“Take it out!” she screamed.
He clapped one hand over her mouth and said the only coherent thing he could think of.
“No,” he said definitely, and shoved.
What might have been a scream emerged through his fingers as a strangled “Eep!” Geneva’s eyes were huge and round, but dry.
In for a penny, in for a pound. The saying drifted absurdly through his head, leaving nothing in its wake but a jumble of incoherent alarms and a marked feeling of terrible urgency down beween them. There was precisely one thing he was capable of doing at this point, and he did it, his body ruthlessly usurping control as it moved into the rhythm of its inexorable pagan joy.
It took no more than a few thrusts before the wave came down upon him, churning down the length of his spine and erupting like a breaker striking rocks, sweeping away the last shreds of conscious thought that clung, barnacle-like, to the remnants of his mind.
He came to himself a moment later, lying on his side with the sound of his own heartbeat loud and slow in his ears. He cracked one eyelid, and saw the shimmer of pink skin in lamplight. He must see if he'd hurt her much, but God, not just this minute. He shut his eye again and merely breathed. (page 205)
Isn't Jamie just the most amazing romantic lead? It seems that if a woman allows, or even encourages, a man to get to a certain point that her right to say no is summarily revoked. After being raped, does Geneva cry, or even try to get away? Nope, she apologises to Jamie believing that the grimace he made during orgasm indicated that he was hurt by raping her. Deciding that her rape wasn't all that bad, Geneva then initiates sex with Jamie. Not only is this another gratuitous rape scene, it's not acknowledged as such because the rapist is Jamie, the perfect Scot.