The second book in Diana Gabaldon's epic time travel series takes readers to 18th century France and the political dealing of the wealthy as Claire and Jamie work to thwart Charles Stuart's attempt to take the throne of England. There is a new cast of characters including one of my favorites, the young pickpocket Claudel, and old ones return as well, like Murtagh, Jamie's loyal friend. Claire helps Jamie recover from his brutal treatment at the hands of Black Jack Randall as she also deals with her pregnancy. The dangers of the 18th Century are much different than the 20th Century from which Claire came but she has adapted remarkably.
The second book has a bit of a shocking beginning, starting off in the 1960s with Claire returning to Inverness. She has a daughter now, named Brianna, and together they have gone to visit Roger after the death of Reverend Reginald Wakefield. Frank has been dead for some time and raised Brianna as his own daughter, but in Inverness, Claire Reveals the truth. Brianna doesn't accept the truth however and flat out denies the revelations accusing Claire of having an affair and being a liar. Claire tells more of the story to Brianna and Roger, which is how the story transfers back in time.
Jamie has a cousin in the wine trade who is going away for some time allowing Claire and Jamie to move in and become part of high society without too much fuss. Claire makes enemies with a rival trader Comte. St. Germain when she pronounces that his entire crew is infected with smallpox. Jamie begins to frequent brothels in order to become a confidante of Charle Stuart. It is in these brothels where Jamie comes to employ Claudel to pickpocket the communications between the prince and potential financiers of his pursuit of the crown.
Claire begins working at a hospital call L'Hôpital des Anges for the poor using her medical expertise to impress the nuns, especially Mother Hildegarde. She also befriends a mysterious apothecary, Master Raymond, who is involved in shadowy business the goes all the way to the French crown. When Black Jack Randall returns with even more awful deeds committed, Jamie challenges him to a duel that leads to Claire fainting and having a miscarriage. After her recovery, she has to bargain with the King of France to free Jamie and then must leave and return to Scotland.
History will not leave the couple alone as the Jacobite uprising begins despite Clarie and Jamie's best efforts to stop it. This uprising drags Jamie in when he is declared to be a part of it on a list. Agreeing to join up, he recruits the men from his line and heads out with Claire to join the army. There are plenty of political dealings that enmesh readers in the decision making of the Highland clans. Claire makes one last stand to stop the battle at Culloden but it fails and Jamie forces her to touch the rocks at Craigh na Dun. The final part brings Claire back to the 1960s where she tries to stop Gellis Duncan, discovers that the rocks still work and learns that Jamie survived the battle. I'm looking forward to the new season of the show and reading the third book.