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Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone


Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone

At long last! Diana Gabaldon’s ninth Outlander novel is here after seven long years. Those of us who have read all or most of the previous books and/or binge-watched the Starz series have been waiting (not so patiently) to find out what happens next. Already a bestseller by the time it hit the shelves, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE could be a 21st-century version of GONE WITH THE WIND.

The first 100 pages update readers on the storyline. The second part of the book begins in 1779 following Jamie and Claire’s successful reunion with Brianna and Roger MacKenzie as their growing family safely travels back through the stones. Jamie has renounced his rank as a general in the Continental army under Washington following the Battle of Monmouth, and sets out to complete construction of their North Carolina homestead of Fraser’s Ridge. Claire, widely known as a healer, tends to her garden of medicinal plants, applying 20th-century knowledge to serve as a midwife, surgeon and general practitioner. A growing community is settling at Fraser’s Ridge, granted to Jamie by the King through his Aunt Jocasta, a plantation owner.

"Already a bestseller by the time it hit the shelves, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE could be a 21st-century version of GONE WITH THE WIND."

The men gather to build a meeting house, meant chiefly to enfold faiths of many callings --- Quakers, Catholics and Protestants of varying denominations. It develops into a combination town hall, school, postal drop and general store, and it is here where political discourse raises its head. Unrest builds slowly among the settlers when regulators step in, causing people to take sides. When gun smugglers are caught attempting to hand over contraband rifles and ammunition to a wealthy settler at the top of the Ridge, events drastically change.

Roger fulfills a calling to become a Presbyterian minister and prepares to travel to Savannah for ordination. Bree is commissioned to paint a portrait of a famous woman there, so she joins him. Aware that a famous battle will be taking place, they take off believing they will leave before the uprising. Bree, Roger and Claire know a great deal about the battles fought during the Revolutionary War through a book written by Frank Randall, Claire’s modern-day husband. The signing of the Declaration of Independence is only the beginning of a fragile new democracy, and much blood will be spilled over the next eight years. The Siege of Savannah becomes a turning point in the war as the Redcoats cling to the crown, which proves to be one of the most exciting parts of the book.

Roger volunteers to help, comforting the militia during the siege. However, he is swept up in the battle and goes missing in action. Claire must call on Lord John to help find him. In early 1780, Jamie learns that several of the dwellers on Fraser’s Ridge have conspired against him and are planning to attack, arrest and murder him, so he evicts them. This is a crucial moment in the story as everything they have worked so hard for is shattered, and Gabaldon’s cinematic prose shines through here.

I did wonder why so many characters from prior volumes were brought back for no apparent reason, perhaps other than to feed a storyline for the next installment. Yes, there will be a 10th book, despite some readers speculating that this would be the finale due to the tantalizing title. Because I haven’t read the entire series, I was frequently left wondering, “Who is this person?” and “What does he or she have to do with the rest of the cast?”

Thank goodness for a preface called An Outlander Family Tree, or I would have been wandering through a forest of Scotsmen. Also appreciated is a map of the colonies for references to the many long journeys made by horseback.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on December 17, 2021

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
by Diana Gabaldon