Study Guide

Outlander Chapter 1

By Diana Gabaldon

Chapter 1

A New Beginning

  • When Part 1 (Inverness) begins, it's 1945, and Mrs. Randall and her husband, Frank, have moved to Scotland to rebuild their marriage as Europe rebuilds itself after World War II
  • After some bouncing of bedsprings, they talk about genealogy, particularly Frank's great-great-great-great-grandfather Jonathan Wolverton Randall. 
  • Later that afternoon, Claire (that's Mrs. Randall's first name, it seems) goes shopping in the town square and buys some vases for her flower specimens. She likes botany.
  • She meets up with Frank and they return to the place they're staying together, where they find a bloodstain on the steps. 
  • No, a serial killer isn't on the loose (although Claire briefly suspects this); it's chicken blood (maybe Colonel Sanders is on the loose) as part of a ritual sacrifice for Beltane, one of the four ancient feasts.
  • They go down to the pub, where Claire meets Mr. Crook, an old man who agrees to take her "for a tour of the local shrubbery" (1.95). This is a botany thing, not a double entendre. (Trust us: there will be plenty of opportunities for double entendre later.)
  • After a night of drinking and Gaelic folktales, Claire returns home. 
  • The power flickers while she's upstairs brushing her hair. A little lack of electricity doesn't inconvenience her, though, and she lights some candles.
  • When Frank comes in, he looks like he's seen a ghost…
  • And he has.
  • He saw a Scotsman, "in complete Highland rig-out, complete to sporran and the most beautiful running-stag brooch on his plaid" (1.150). He's not doing Braveheart cosplay, either; although it was windy, the man's kilt didn't move in the breeze.
  • Later, Frank is still thinking about the man. He wonders if he's someone Claire had an affair with during the war. After all, it was six years.
  • She swears she hasn't… but then she starts wondering what Frank did during their six years apart.