There are lives that flow harmoniously, smoothly, without trauma, without ever having to question one's inner nature and one's place in a complex society. There are existences without danger, without abysses, without confrontations.
And then there are the others.
Doubly orphaned at the age of 5, then entrusted to an archaeologist uncle who travels her around the world during her explorations, Claire has never had the opportunity to live in a stable and reassuring home. Adult, she meets love and marries in the process, with an educated and sedentary man, but the war does not leave her the possibility of profiting from it. She volunteers to be a nurse and faces the brunt of violence, suffering and loss.
Upon returning from the war, she will have only a few weeks of sweetness with a miraculously found husband before being propelled through time in the heart of a Scotland in full occupation.
From 1943 to 1945 : Claire is a dynamic woman who exudes self-confidence. It is easy to understand that life with her uncle saved her from a conventional patriarchal education. She takes charge, chooses to go to war against the advice of her husband. She struggles on the battlefields and then back to civilian life, reintegrates her couple, determined to leave the horror behind. She is again bright and smiling. She loves to make love and asserts her right to pleasure with aplomb. We can say without fear of being wrong, Claire is modern, perhaps even, ahead of her time, and could not be satisfied with the narrow place given to women in this tormented mid-century.
1743 : Here is the unimaginable happening, and for whatever reason. Our modern woman finds herself propelled two hundred years into the past. What irony ! It is an understatement to say that the women of this century are little considered and Claire will have to learn it the hard way.
1- Sassenach -
First of all, in shock (she narrowly avoids being raped by her husband's double a few minutes after his arrival! That says a lot about what awaits her), Claire remains on the alert, neither revealing her identity or provenance. Who would believe her anyway, when she still can't believe it? However, it can in no way curb its deep nature which is to treat anyone who needs it, which allows it, moreover, to find its place quite quickly within a population where it is treated as a foreigner and therefore a potential enemy. . By investing the role of healer, she miraculously takes an ascendancy over these hitherto threatening warriors.
It is interesting to note that Claire is in no way motivated by nationalist considerations. Indeed, she does not take up the cause of the British, after having spent several years in their ranks as a nurse, but for those she considers oppressed. It is therefore without any hesitation that she informs the Highlanders of a possible lookout against them.
It should be noted that her adventurous childhood with her uncle, then the hard years as a war nurse, will have prepared her to undergo the harshness of Scottish life and in particular those first two days of riding. The cold, the rain, the nights on the ground, the occasional meals… Claire endures it all without a complaint.
2- Castle Leoch
Over the days, Claire slips into a daily life where she makes her place. Finally, its modernism offers it a posture to take.
Fight against backward beliefs - whether those of Father Bain, or those of uncultivated populations - invest her infirmary, understand the political issues of the clans, and, in a more intimate way, get to know Jamie better, for whom she has a very special tenderness. Especially since she regains hope of returning to her century when she hears the bard Gwyllyn sing the song of the Lady of Balnain, who, it is said, has crossed the stones twice.
4- The Gathering
Her decision is made, she will flee, find the standing stones of Craigh Na Dunn and finish this incredible adventure once and for all. Revolted and rebellious, Claire's will is her sharpest weapon to resist anything that gets in her way.
Yet her plan fails before she has even crossed the gates of the castle, and that may be good, as it is highly likely that she would have been caught by the Laird's guards. Its weakness is its ignorance of the harshness of the time and of the warlike soul of its inhabitants! She still thinks like a woman of her century. Who could blame him? Anyway, here she is again where she started, alone in her dark infirmary where she cries for the first time.
But she does not have the opportunity to dwell for long, because Dougal announces to her that she is enrolled in the small troop in charge of raising the rents in the hinterland.
Once on the road, everything changes. Whether it is by opposing them or by gradually understanding the motivations of her companions, she is no longer a stranger, or even a guest, but part of the clan. The harshness of the country and the British oppression come, in a way, to relativize her own condition, as if, realizing how hard life was for these companions, she ended up accepting her fate. But more than anything else, what overwhelms her is the realization that, all of these men she's starting to get attached to, are likely to die on Culloden Moor in less than three years. Claire, in addition to everything else, now carries on her shoulders the weight of Cassandra: knowing the terrible truth and having no means of preventing disaster.
6- The garrison commander
Clearly, Claire's existence is like a tapestry whose meshes intersect in order to draw a destiny that takes on its meaning in a final painting. As she argues with Dougal, who still suspects her of being an English spy - especially since she has just realized that her men were not robbers, but Jacobites raising funds for a revolt - British soldiers take them by force. They demand an explanation on the situation of this Englishwoman living within a clan of Highlanders. First invited like an English lady by rather good-natured officers, it does not take long before she lets out some thoughts which show which way her heart is tilting. Out of bravado, or perhaps even more out of recklessness, Claire takes up the cause of those who have held her prisoner for weeks. Decidedly, whatever the century in which she finds herself, her frankness never fails her.
But now Black Jack Randall, giving free rein to his madness, abuses and threatens her so much so that Dougal has no other choice but to intervene at the last minute to save her. What a change in situation ! We realize then that, without her even having determined, Claire has finally chosen her camp.
7- The Wedding
Everything is going to accelerate again for Claire who, because of her impetuous character, causes incessant turmoil in the clan of the Highlanders. The deal is simple: if she wants to escape Randall's sharp clutches, the only solution is to become Scottish and to do that she has to marry Jamie. No matter how charming she finds him, she is nonetheless already married to a professor of 20th century history! Even for a woman of her caliber who seems freed from any religious yoke, this is immoral to say the least. Moreover, if she approves of this union, it is as if she admits to being a "prisoner" of this century for the rest of her life. That glow she was clinging to will be extinguished.
But indeed, as the days went by, the immediate imperatives supplanted her legitimate obsession with returning home. Permanent survival takes precedence over all other considerations, so she accepts the contract. It's decided, she will no longer be Beauchamp, any more than she was a Randall. She will now be a Fraser.
What appears, when we fly over the first seven episodes of the saga, is to what extent Claire, despite a daring temperament and a fierce will, can not fight against the events with which she is confronted. Tossed about by its incomprehensible passage through time and the reality of a country under occupation, it must privilege survival to the detriment of reason. Going back to the stones seems to be the priority action and that's what she thinks about in the first place. But she will never have the opportunity, far too busy not to die, quite simply.
However, Claire will never become bitter, angry, or even depressed, and that's what characterizes her. While she must keep silent about her real identity and the reason for her presence on Scottish lands, she remains herself, the one she was alongside her uncle, the one who healed inconceivable wounds in the heart of the battle, the one who has always stood up to men and destiny, the one who braves the wrath of the warriors around her.
Claire finally, who does not need any surname to exist.
In the McKenzie stronghold, Claire must adapt as quickly as possible in order to evade the suspicions that weigh on her, because in addition to being timeless, she is also an Englishwoman in an occupied country. The prospect of regaining her previous life keeps her upright and prevents her from falling into despair. She takes patience, accepting with a certain ease, and perhaps even a certain curiosity, this new life which is offered to her.
Plants to collect and use, people to care for, others to meet. Music and legends, rituals, and even a friend in the person of Geillis. After all, if this is not to last, why not take advantage of it? She will have things to tell her historian husband! Propelled forward by a reality that exceeds it,
3- The Way Out