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    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

A Very Merry to You!

Copyright 2011 Diana Gabaldon

It was cold in the loft, and his sleep-mazed mind groped among the icy drafts after the words still ringing in his mind.
“Bonnie lad.”
Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted below, grunting and whickering. Helwater. The knowledge of the place settled on him, and the fragments of Scotland and Lallybroch cracked and flaked away, fragile as a skin of dried mud.
Helwater. Straw rustling under him, the ends poking through the rough ticking, prickling through his shirt. Dark air, alive around him.
Bonnie lad…
They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.
Willie rode atop the log, screeching with excitement, clinging to the rope. Once back at the house, Isobel had tried to teach him to sing “Good King Wenceslaus,” but it was beyond him, and he dashed to and fro, into everything until his grandmother declared that he would drive her to distraction and told Peggy to take him to the stable, to help Jamie and Crusoe bring in the fresh-cut branches of pine and fir. Thrilled, Willie rode on Jamie’s saddle-bow to the grove, and stood obediently on a stump where Jamie had put him, safe out of the way of the axes while the boughs were cut down. Then he helped to load the greenery, clutching two or three fragrant, mangled twigs to his chest, dutifully chucking these in the general direction of the huge basket, then running back again for more, heedless of where his burden had actually landed.
Jamie turned over, wriggling deeper into the nest of blankets, drowsy, remembering. He’d kept it up, the wean had, back and forth, back and forth, though red in the face and panting, until he dropped the very last branch on the pile. Jamie had looked down to find Willie beaming up at him with pride, laughed and said on impulse, “Aye, that’s a bonnie lad. Come on. Let’s go home.”
William had fallen asleep on the ride home, his head heavy as a cannonball in its woolen cap against Jamie’s chest. Jamie had dismounted carefully, holding the child in one arm, but Willie had wakened, blinked groggily at Jamie and said, “WEN-sess-loss,” clear as a bell, then fallen promptly back asleep. He’d waked properly by the time he was handed over to Nanny Elspeth, though, and Jamie had heard him, as he walked away, telling Nanny, “I’m a bonnie lad!”
But those words came out of his dreams, from somewhere else, and long ago. Had his own father said that to him, once?
He thought so, and for an instant—just an instant—was with his father and his brother Willie, excited beyond bearing, holding the first fish he’d ever caught by himself, slimy and flapping, both of them laughing at him, with him in joy.
“Bonnie lad!”
Willie. God, Willie. I’m so glad they gave him your name. He seldom thought of his brother; Willie had died of the smallpox when he was eleven, Jamie, eight. But every now and then, he could feel Willie with him, sometimes his mother or his father. More often, Claire.
I wish ye could see him, Sassenach, he thought. He’s a bonnie lad. Loud and obnoxious, he added with honesty, but bonnie.



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51 Responses »

  1. I very wise person recommended to me that I read the Brotherhood of the Blade before starting The Scottish Prisoner, so I spent most of my down-time this holiday finishing the BOTB. I started The Scottish Prisoner last night. Thanks Diana, you have made me very happy! ;)

  2. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Diana! I am a late-comer to the”Outlander”series, and feel very fortunate that I have not had to wait between books-until now. (Grrrr!) I fell in love with Jamie and Claire from the get go, and have had to content myself with re-reading the entire series again! I have also really enjoyed the Lord John series immensely. He is another very likeable character, someone I would love to have as a good friend. I want to thank you for writing such wonderful books, full of wonderful, three-dimensional characters……the stories are so easy to lose yourself in! Thank you for sharing your talent with us “mere mortals”! :) I am very much looking forward to your next “Outlander” book, with equal excitement and trepidation…..I can’t wait to learn what is happening with Jamie, Claire, and Lord John, and I am fearful that all to soon the story will be done. That thought is more frightening than Frank encountering Jamie’s ghost in the Highlands of Scotland in 1945! I insist that you contintue to write this saga, well, forever! I want to always have one of your books on my nightstand-you’re the best! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Here’s to a happy, and very productive 2012!

  3. I spent an early Christmas on Friday with my family, and got the Scottish Prisoner for a present (yay!)
    But then on Christmas eve I came down with a vicious flu and I still have it. I hope its the last day of being stuck in bed today as its very inconvenient to be sick at this time of year ( summer in Australia, blue skies, all my friends at the beach and having fun) , but the plus side is I have had the Scottish Prisoner to keep me company – thank goodness!!!
    I am half way at the moment, normally I read faster than that but I am trying to read slower and take in all the words instead of skimming rapidly over the pages absorbing the words quickly, the first book I have ever purposefully done that with. I know it will be awhile to wait yet for MOBY so I am making it last. Awesome by the way, I just love the little real life bits you do throughout each book, which make the story so real to us, its a magical talent you have xx Solstice blessings to you :)

  4. Hi Diana,

    I just wanted to say thank you for being so accessible to your fans and making it possible for us to communicate with you. It is a treat! You have signed several books for me when my mom (who lives in Gilbert) has attended various functions at The Poisoned Pen. The latest was The Scottish Prisoner, which you signed with “Hope to meet you soon”. I really hope to meet you soon! Thanks again!


  5. I just finished listening to this — what a nice ending. Although I sure wish it’d gone on a bit longer….will be waiting anxiously (!) for the next installment of the Lord John series!!

  6. Oh crap. Now I’ll have to read the book. I’d been resisting– because this year I read the entire Outlander series (faster than I care to admit). Haha! Although I miss Jamie, I was afraid to read a story that didn’t have Claire–thought it might be too sad or something. Also, I admit– sometimes I want to punch Lord John or shake him by the shoulders–not sure why. I haven’t read any of his series.
    Anyway– you’re brilliant as ever. Love your books. I suppose I ‘ll end up reading them all. So curious about what will happen with Bree and Roger and William and everyone. Fantastic characters. (=
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. (=

  7. Happy Everything to you too!
    Asked for The Scottish Prisoner for Christmas, and just spent a very joyful last week in 2011 trying hard not to read it too fast!
    Thank you!

  8. Diana

    It was wonderful to see those additional excerpts today covering the major characters especially Jemmy. The one of Willie was also very sweet. It’s a long time till 2013, however I’ve just bought ‘The Scottish Prisoner’ so that will keep me going for another week. Will also look forward to receiving ‘The Exile’. The artwork looks stunning. Jamie is close to how I would have depicted him, he hadn’t quite coalesced into a definite form in spite of re-reading the whole series, so the paintings from your mind have been great.

    I especially loved the link for ‘Auld Lang Syne’. We didn’t hear it or sing it here on NY eve as we used to when I was little so it was a lovely timely surprise and being so beautifully sung was a bonus. I’ve sent it on to a dear Scottish friend.

    With all the very best to you and your family in 2012 and speedy writing without too many distractions.

    Noella from Sydney Australia

  9. Dear Diana, thank you so much for ‘ The Scottish Prisoner’. I enjoyed it so much. I wrote you a long time ago after I found ‘LG and the Private Matter.’ I wrote you about how much I appreciated your writing about this gay character and asked if there were other books. You were kind enough to answer and recommended Outlander, and indeed I have read the whole series and loved them. You certainly have learned how to write cliffhangers! The excerpt of ‘Written in My Own Heart’s Blood’ gives hope that Jem won’t be left in the tunnel for too much longer. Congratulations on your grandchild and wishes for a speedy rehab on your knee.

    • Dear Marilyn–

      Er….thanks! My knee’s nearly two years old and doing well, and I don’t have any grandchildren–but the kind thoughts are much appreciated! {g}


  10. Diana,
    I remember you from the old AOL days, gosh, that was close to 20 years ago. I really liked your books then, but 20 years later, you are still writing about the same characters, that’s amazing. As I recall what really turned me off was how mean and just ugly you got with your fans. So many people just left and your books reminded them of your unkindness and condescending treatment of them. I think your books, when I do see them remind me of your ugly behavior, and that’s why I avoid them. Good Luck to you in you writing, hope you find new characters some day and hope you have grown from your experiences. More importantly I hope you have matured enough to understand treating others as you did winds up hurting you more than it hurts them, and it speaks volumes about someone’s character, or lack there of.
    Thanks for listening.

    • Dear Lola–

      I’m deeply sorry that I said something so wounding that you remembered it for twenty years. I apologize.

      Now, I don’t quite see why it should irk you that I choose to write what I do write, but as you wisely avoid the books, I don’t suppose it’s important.

      As for maturity, I’d hope that most people learn to be more generous and compassionate with age. I don’t always manage, but I try.


  11. Just finished reading The Scottish Prisoner. Oh, my! A wonderful story for both characters but with so much Jamie in it! Of course, the best parts were of Jamie and young William. I keep rereading the last 2 pages, and still cry each time. Your words flow so beautifully that I am quite jealous (as a fellow writer); your talent is what I aspire to. I’m ready to delve back into Outlander, finishing an Echo in the Bone as Heart’s Blood is released. What better way to spend the year. Thank you, Diana, for creating the world of Jamie & Claire.


  12. Diana,
    Nearly finished “The Scotttish Prisoner” and starting to feel sad(?) as I have to wait at least to the end of 2012 for the next episode of Jamie and Claire! I am in Oz and just wanted to join in with everyone else to say “Congratulations”. Your books are so absorbing and interesting and transport one back so easily to another time.

    Thanks, and please stay well!

  13. Diana,
    While not of Scots descent, my ex-husband’s father’s family very much was. I always wanted to be at least part Scots so I sort of got my wish there! Anyway, I’m reading the Scottish Prisoner at the moment (have read the others as well) and this time, because I’m now involved in family research made particular note on pg. 99 of the reference to Glenfinnan, spelled all as one word. Papa’s surname is Finnan, one of my sons is named Glenn Finnan, after the wonderful Scotch Papa used to have imported, and I have found pictures of Glen Finnan, spelled as two words, on the net. Papa traveled a lot as part of his job and did a lot of research to include a family shield so I have good places to begin. So, I was wondering if in your research you might have found that the Finnans, who also have an Irish branch, by the way, supported Bonnie Prince Charlie (a real mess of a royal, but then so many were)? Papa’s father immigrated from Dundee, and I would like in my digging to track much further back, but the Scots seem very close with their history so the research will be difficult as I can’t afford to travel there now that I’m retired. There may be a lot of embarassment over the Clearance – as well there should be. I was totally shocked when I discovered that! I do hope to hear from you although I know you are extremely busy.
    I am enjoying the read, and like Jamie tremendously – my kind of man.
    Barbara Finnan

    • Dear Barbara–

      Well, congratulations on your fortunate heritage! [g] I’m not sure what you mean about the Scots being “very close with their history.” I don’t know where you’d find a country more awash with history–and there’s _tons_ of it all over the web, as well as in libraries. Have you looked at http://www.electricScotland.com? Good luck with your digging!

      • Many thanks, Diana, for replying. By “close” I meant my inability to obtain info via web contact. However, will definitely try the site you’ve suggested! Scotland IS awash with history and I intend to try to find as much as possible about my sons Scots antecedents as possible. My impression has been that one would need to actually travel to Scotland and do on site researching, that little would be available through web search. So, hopefully the site you’ve generously provided will prove that wrong. Will let you know how things go. Meanwhile, enjoyed the Scottish Prisoner tremendously. Knew about the oath and the attempt to erase history for the Uprisers and the relocating of many to Canada – often with basically nothing, leaving their wonderful dogs behind. I have a book of Scots history that gives lots of info without drama. The drama is, however, very much there nevertheless.

    • Dear Barbara,

      To put the record straight; and I am sorry to have to disillusion you.

      Your father-in-law’s father, (Lawrence Finnan),was the only child of that family ‘born’ in Dundee. The Finnan family had emigrated to Dundee from Co. Longford in Southern Ireland – and were poverty stricken!! The occupation they had in Dundee were as ‘Hand Loom Weavers’ and also undertook casual ‘Stone-Masonary’ work; they operated the ‘Hand-Loom’ in the front room of their 2 roomed house!!

      Your father-inlaw’s father went away to the Seminary to ‘try’ for the Priesthood where he was taught Latin and Music. All of the Finnan family were musical including my grandfather …. it is a Celtic Gift. In those days it was considered “shameful” when a young man went away to study for the Priesthood and did not complete the course – - they were considered “Failed Priests” ….. that is why many of them sailed off to Australia, Canada and America! Also, many a ‘cunning’ young man would ‘opt’ to study for the Priesthood to get a GOOD and FREE education – - then QUIT – - – which I am sure was the case with your father-in-law’s father. He left Dundee with another “Failed Priest” for Paris and from there they both left for America …… with a considerable amount of money from Lawrence’s father, (where this was acquired from is a great mystery – although it was said that ‘OLD PADDY’ spent a ‘Bucket-Load’ of his money on ‘that’ son). His father, (known as ‘OLD PADDY FINNAN’), nor anyone else in the family, ever heard from Lawrence again!!! Not a note – - – - NOTHING!!

      Lawrence Finnan then proceeded to Baltimore where I understand he took a post teaching Latin and Music – thanks to his Seminary …… !!

      The Family Crest you mention was given to your father-in-law by my father as a gift – my father having acquired it from Dublin Castle on your father-in-law’s behalf.

      The place “Glen Finnan” , located near Fort William, has nothing whatsoever to do with “my” “our” decendants ……. nothing whatsoever – - – this is just ‘fancifullness’ and should cease!!

      The Whiskey with the “Finnan” Label is a marketing gimmick! Anyone can make arrangements for their Family Name to be placed on a bottle! If my memory serves me correctly your father-in-law purchased the “Finnan Whiskey” from a company in San Francisco, who having imported the whiskey then stuck a label on the bottle. It is all nonsense!

      If you wish to trace the Finnan Line – you would be well advised to contact the Genealogy Department at Dublin Castle, Eire.

      Lawrence Finnan who left for America was my great-grandmother’s brother!

      Trust this helps!

      Kathleen (your distant Anglo/Irish/Scottish cousin-in-law)

  14. I, too, love this passage. My heart aches for Jamie. Will he ever have all the people he loves with him at the same time, Claire, Brianna, and William? I hope so.

  15. i am so in love with your books i have reread outlander already three times reread dragenfly in amber and voyagerbecause after reading the seventh book i forgot some off the important points from the beginning ican hardly wait for the next book .but oh well patiance is a virtue and the prize so much sweeter thank u so much

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