• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

A Second Advent Candle

Happy Second Sunday of Advent! This particular excerpt is one that some of you may recognize; it was published as an “extra” in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER. I wanted to use it here, though, because of the spiritual theme of reconciliation and forgiveness, which seemed very appropriate to the season. (Last Sunday, we had an excerpt dealing with mourning and contemplation. Next Sunday is Gaudete Sunday—“Rejoicing” Sunday [g]—and we’ll have an excerpt dealing with joyful anticipation.) A Blessed Christmas (or Chanukah/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa, etc.) season to all of you, and I hope you enjoy this.

William had left the house like a thunderclap, and the place looked as though it had been struck by lightning. I certainly felt like the survivor of a massive electrical storm; hairs and nerve endings all standing up straight on end, waving in agitation.

Jenny Murray had entered the house on the heels of William’s departure, and while the sight of her was a lesser shock than any of the others so far, it still left me speechless. I goggled at my erstwhile sister-in-law—though come to think, she still was my sister-in-law…because Jamie was alive. _ Alive_.

He’d been in my arms not ten minutes before, and the memory of his touch flickered through me like lightning in a bottle. I was dimly aware that I was smiling like a loon, despite massive destruction, horrific scenes, William’s distress—if you could call an explosion like that “distress”—Jamie’s danger, and a faint wonder as to what either Jenny or Mrs. Figg, Lord John’s cook and housekeeper, might be about to say.

Mrs. Figg was smoothly spherical, gleamingly black, and inclined to glide silently up behind one like a menacing ball-bearing.

“What’s this?” she barked, manifesting herself suddenly behind Jenny.

“Holy Mother of God!” Jenny whirled, eyes round and hand pressed to her chest. “Who in God’s name are you?”

“This is Mrs. Figg,” I said, feeling a surreal urge to laugh, despite–or maybe because of–recent events. “Lord John Grey’s cook. And Mrs. Figg, this is Mrs. Murray. My, um…my…”

“Your good-sister,” Jenny said firmly. She raised one black eyebrow. “If ye’ll have me, still?” Her look was straight and open, and the urge to laugh changed abruptly into an equally strong urge to burst into tears. Of all the unlikely sources of succor I could have imagined… I took a deep breath and put out my hand.

“I’ll have you.” We hadn’t parted on good terms in Scotland, but I had loved her very much, once, and wasn’t about to pass up any opportunity to mend things.

Her small firm fingers wove through mine, squeezed hard, and as simply as that, it was done. No need for apologies or spoken forgiveness. She’d never had to wear the mask that Jamie did. What she thought and felt was there in her eyes, those slanted blue cat-eyes she shared with her brother. She knew the truth now, of what I was—and knew I loved—had always loved–her brother with all my heart and soul–despite the minor complications of my being presently married to someone else.

She heaved a sigh, eyes closing for an instant, then opened them and smiled at me, mouth trembling only a little.

“Well, fine and dandy,” said Mrs. Figg, shortly. She narrowed her eyes and rotated smoothly on her axis, taking in the panorama of destruction. The railing at the top of the stair had been ripped off, and cracked banisters, dented walls, and bloody smudges marked the path of William’s descent. Shattered crystals from the chandelier littered the floor, glinting festively in the light that poured through the open front door, the door itself cracked through and hanging drunkenly from one hinge.

“Merde on toast,” Mrs. Figg murmured. She turned abruptly to me, her small black-currant eyes still narrowed. “Where’s his lordship?”

“Ah,” I said. This was going to be rather sticky, I saw. While deeply disapproving of most people, Mrs. Figg was devoted to John. She wasn’t going to be at all pleased to hear that he’d been abducted by–

“For that matter, where’s my brother?” Jenny inquired, glancing round as though expecting Jamie to appear suddenly out from under the settee.

“Oh,” I said. “Hm. Well…” Possibly worse than sticky. Because…
“And where’s my Sweet William?” Mrs. Figg demanded, sniffing the air. “He’s been here; I smell that stinky cologne he puts on his linen.” She nudged a dislodged chunk of plaster disapprovingly with the toe of her shoe.

I took another long, deep breath, and a tight grip on what remained of my sanity.

Mrs. Figg,” I said, “perhaps you would be so kind as to make us all a cup of tea?”

[end section]

Excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (will probably be published in Fall 2013). Copyright 2012 Diana Gabaldon (Please do not repost or otherwise reproduce—though you’re more than welcome to link to this page!)

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26 Responses »

  1. Thank you, Diana. I have a sister in law who is, shall I say, a problem. Next time I see her, I am going to walk up to her and take her hand. And I want a spherical housekeeper who glides around on ball bearings with black beady eyes! Thank you for reminding me to forgive those who trespass against me.

  2. Thank you, Diana, and a very expectant Advent season to you and yours.

  3. I got the Mass of Advent now, and I loved the message in this passage, where a brother, although not blood, will always be there for us, as John the Baptist was present to Jesus. Very beautiful message!! Happy day of Advent to you too Diana!!

  4. Thank you for sharing this excerpt. I remember it as if I read it yesterday. I admire how you can write so vividly and with such clarity. The characters truly come alive on the page and it is a joy to share in their lives. Thank you!

  5. This is what I’ve been waiting for, and it is well worth the wait!

  6. Lovely start to my morning. Tasty and wonderful like a scone and tea. Happy Second week of Advent Diana, to you and yours. Love, Ellen

  7. Nice. I’m totally vested in the world you bring to life because your development of the characters in your writing totally brings them to life! Each one, no matter how small a part they play, is integral to the overall picture and becomes someone I “know.” I have re-read many a book in my lifetime, but yours are the only ones I read over and over–other than Alcott’s “Little Women” which as a teen I read 38 times. I hope your knee is progressing more than satisfactorily and that your own year ahead is blessed. Thank you for many hours–morphing into years, actually–of pure enchantment.

  8. thanks again, diana, for some chuckles to energize my day! as always, your interlacing of these sudden spurts of humor [“Merde on toast,”], no matter what the tone of the scene, makes reading your works all the more enticing!

  9. Lovely to find this excerpt, this cold and snowy morning. Claire could always say that Jamie and John went off somewhere together. *G*
    I loved the pictures of your pomegranate tree, and whilst in Leavenworth, WA I saw a beautiful way to use the excess fruit. They wove them into garlands with cedar boughs and lined bannisters and mantles with that combination. Beautiful, but I always thought very expensive, not living where one could grow a pomegranate tree. After seeing your bountiful harvest, I understood that it might be the only way to use some of the fruit in a timely fashion!
    Hope your knee is getting closer to fully functional. Tidings of great Joy to you and yours

  10. The sun is shining. A blessed day to you and yours.

  11. A very powerful thing, forgiveness.

    Peace to all!


  12. A good reminder that a lot of anger comes From misunderstandings and assumptions. You have to let anger go as much as you can… Or atleast try too;)

  13. I love your writing So much! :)
    Thank you for giving us this early “sneak peek” as a gift! Can’t wait til next Sunday.
    Reading your books makes me wonder if this was what my family was like..lol..I have a bit of firey Scot in me too.!

    Thank you and Bless you Always!

  14. What a tease!!! I can hardly wait until next fall. I think that I will start reading the series from the very beginning, again.

  15. Reading the excerpt was like seeing an old friend. Thank you!

  16. You have no idea how many fans follow and love you. Merry Christmas Diana Galbadon. Patricia Banks

  17. *SIGH* I am so happy that Claire and Jenny reconciled…was upset when they parted last.

  18. Oh how I love this story! It is going to be hard to wait for the next volume. I can hardly believe that I have been in love with this series for so long. I’ve read these books over and over again, and always, some new detail comes to light, intensifying and enriching the fabric of the story. Although I’ve just finished reading them again, I am quite certain I’ll devour them again before I read “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood”!

  19. I have loved every book, and am trying to locate the very few I have missed. I will await, eagerly, “A Trail of Fire”. I do have a question: a sister of my 2d (or3d) grt grandmother was named Karen or Keren-. Happuch Smith. In “The Scottish Prisoner”, p.400-469, a Welsh kitchen maid at Helwater has that name. It is a family mystery. Can you explain its derivation? Please know I admire all your wonderful historical research, adding greatly to my understanding and appreciation. Thank you for many hours of enjoyment.

    • Dear Sharon–

      “Keren-happuch” is a name from the Bible. You’d find Biblical names used for children very frequently through the 18th and 19th centuries.


  20. you don’t know me i am new to this . my b-day falls in the first week of october . i consider your books to be my only presents required every 3 years .i have been reading yall since 1991 in oregon . i do not mean to sound uneducated but the last 16 years i have gone back to my most recent “roots” and made them my own. i really identify with” a stranger in a strange land”/heinlein/”a strange time!” everything here is close to 20 yrs. behind the times. i have introduced you to many friends and neighbors ,their daughters and friends too. no need to hurry wotb in fact if you did it would annoy me. we can reread til the finished book is ready . Escape to another time and place

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