SPOILER ALERT: Dinna read unless you have read the first few chapters of Part 5 in OUTLANDER or CROSS STICH.
Strap yourselves in, lassies. This is a long one. And I've already cut it down. Lorddddd the Gathering.
Let me start by saying that I am enjoying Lallybroch soooo much more this time around - and I've only been there 3 days. So that says something, right? But now that I've done it twice, I can honestly say what bugged me the last time; and is still bugging me today.
I really don't like the ARRIVAL at Lallybroch at all. Maybe it's because the story is in first person - and I read it as if I'm Claire. And certain things offend me. And yet what offends me doesn't seem to bother Claire in the least.
(Interesting side note; the dogs. Claire thinks there are 12 at first - only to realize there are 4 - once they've calmed down and their tails start to wag. And it signifies a prelude, if you will... a sign of things to come. Seemingly rabid dogs outside the house; one seemingly rabid dogs inside the house. Appearing larger than life - but really just standing barely five feet tall. And this dog's name is Jenny.)
OK so let me get on with it.... here's what truly irks me: I don't like the fight. I dinna like it at all. I get the fact that they can't just walk in and hug Jenny and all will be right with the world. I get that. When Jamie left - some years ago - he was dragged out and Jenny was about to be raped in the house. That's traumatic any way you slice it - so of course there is going to have to be some type of drama when the prodigal son finally arrives back home again. But the fight? It goes on way too long. Jamie's not stupid. He should have figured out that Jenny has not spawned with Satan long before he did. The miscommunication factor seems almost like it's right out of Three's Company. I'm half-expecting Jack Tripper to show up and fall over something - while Chrissy's hiding behind the couch and Janet's standing there, wide eyed. The fight just drags. LIKE THE GATHERING! Lorddddd the Gathering!!
Was it great when Jenny grabbed Jamie's junk? Absolutely hilarious (although slightly unnerving). Do we see how feisty and intense they both are? Yes. Do we see how much they love each other? Yes. To the point where we half expect them to start making out like Greg and Marcia in the Brady Bunch Movie... but yes, we do see how much they love each other.
So. Here is how I think the whole thing COULD have gone down:
Jenny: I'm so glad you're home!
Jamie: You're with child ya harlot daughter of a wee bitch!
Jenny: Oh, SHUT IT, Jamie! I married your friend Ian while you were gone! Both kids are his! Randall didna lay a hand on me because he's not into vajayjay. It's all good!
Jamie: Get OUT?! That's awesome Jenny. Now let me introduce ye to me new bride, Claire. Fine lookin' sassenach wench, is she not? Sassenach, please FORGIVE ME for leaving ye standing there.
Claire: Oh no worries, Jamie. Jenny, it's nice to meet you. May I have a new dress, some shoes, a handful of bannocks and a comb? And if it's not too much trouble, maybe some L'Heure Bleu?
Jamie: (whispering under his breath) Claire, ye left your own time, lass.
Claire: Oh right, sorry! Just the comb would be fine.
Jenny: Oh absolutely! Claire, it's lovely to meet ye. I always knew Jamie would find a good woman one day...
But instead, we have to go through ten or so rounds of tiring - although hilarious - insults between Jenny and Jamie. And yes, yes, I get it... we have to see how tumultuous their relationship is, yet how much they love each other. But....and this is a big BUT...
They just leave Claire standing there! For a LONG time! In her dirty clothes! And no shoes! To the point where she takes herself outside and wanders around! I would be MORTIFIED!! Hell the DOGS were more welcoming for god's sake! Jenny's mad - I get it. Jamie's mad - I get it. But COME ON, MAN! She just gave up her husband - hot baths - and everything she knows for YOU, Jamie! Any sane woman would need a little more reassurance that she did the right thing! She is extremely important - and you just leave her standing there while you're being a complete MORON! Hell, my FIVE YEAR OLD can tell that Jenny didn't have a baby with JACK RANDALL!! WAKE UP! And Diana even says at one point that Jamie seems to have forgotten Claire is even there! I just canna stand for it. I won't... I canna be gentle about my negative feelings about this scene.
And then - even the next day - it's still uncomfortable. We never see Jenny be welcoming to Claire. We never see Jenny truly welcome Claire into her home. We just see her yell at Jamie and yell at Ian walk in on Claire and Jamie... and sit there and make small talk with Claire. (Which is brills, by the way. I love how Diana shows you what each is saying - and what each really means. You can FEEL the awkwardness in that scene. It gives me chills and brings back memories of meeting boyfriends' families back in the day.)
One thing I absolutely loved the 2nd time around - and Tracey will appreciate this - is the scene where Jamie tells Claire that he married her for love. I didn't understand the first time I read it that he's saying he immediately loved the touch of her hands and the feel of her against him... and it was dark... so he didn't know what her face looked like... but it COULD HAVE looked like a sheep's for all he cared because the rest of her was so fine. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a moron. The first time I read it, I KNEW he was just being a wiseguy while telling her how much he loved her from the beginning. But I thought he was saying her face DID look like a sheep's...not that I thought he meant it... and... I dunno... I was just put off by it. I guess I kindof felt like "Geez this poor woman shows up at this house - gets a less-than-stellar welcome and basically has to fend for herself with the high-strung sister since Jamie's gone all day - and then when they DO get together, he quasi-insults her by being cute. BUT - now that I've read it again - and read it correctly - I totally get it. Thank god for the reread!