Feb 13 2011 5:00am

Romantic Couple: Jamie And Claire from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander

Godward Yes Or No

A couple, a duo, a pair, a match, a Brangelina or a TomKat—you can’t have a Romance without them. It’s kind of a staple.

Technically, I guess one could romance themselves, but who wants to read about the single life of Kim Kardashian? (Besides Kim, of course.)

Imagine this . . .

Rhett giving a damn and deciding not to go South with the retreating Confederacy. Juliet forever crying, “Wherefore are thou, Romeo?” as he dumps her on the balcony to go drinking with his buddies. Elizabeth going all Kelly Clarkson in Miss Independent and joining the 19th-century's version of the Pussy Cat Dolls, leaving stiff ol’ Darcy in the rain? The titles would read; The Wind That Never Showed, Just Juliet, and Pride and Patent Leather Heels. Without these Uber-Couples of Romance literature . . . I don’t even want to finish the thought.

Tom Cruise and Katie HolmesSo, who are the power couples of Romance? I googled some lists, and the same names kept appearing for good reason. You sigh when you hear their names—recalling their plights, their fates, their loves, and their ha-cha-cha. Your heart actually smiles when you think back on their stories.

What makes these couples the greatest? Is it chemistry? How they met? Why they can’t be together? Is it the HEA or the three hanky cry-fest? I need to know.


The other week I finished Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. There is time travel, betrayal, sex, violence, laughter, history, and of course . . . love. Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall are among the Romance Elite. They made it to every list I found of the best Romantic Couples in novels. And I couldn’t agree more. Jamie and Claire kept me turning the pages, over 800 of them. Yup, you heard right: 800 pages. I read on the train to work, in bed, in the tub, in the car (not driving) and during family time. I heard grumblings that sounded like complaints from the Hubby and Tweener, but I was too busy in Scotland's 1743 to really care.

Now, those of you unfamiliar with this epic tale, relax. I won’t give away too much. During the beginning—I won’t lie—I yawned a bit. If it wasn’t for the rave reviews of some writer friends, I may have even put the book down. When these two dynamic characters finally meet, the initial sparks of attraction are palpable. Claire has been transported from 1945 to 1743. She finds herself in the middle of a battle between Scots and Brits. A group of Scots find her, think she’s a spy, and take her with them. Being a nurse, she sees a wounded soldier and tends to him. Even though Jamie is severely wounded, he manages to rile Claire up. This had me more than curious to see what would happen when he wasn’t half-dead.

As the story progresses, Gabaldon does an amazing job of having a natural push-and-pull form between these two. A slow courtship, all of a sudden, ends up in marriage. And being the time it was, well, we all know marriages had to be consummated. Here, I learned of Jamie’s vulnerabilities (ahem), being the virgin of the duo. Claire is from the 20th century, married, and a few years older than Jamie, hence the more experienced one. A curveball for Romance. Not done often, and certainly not enough in my opinion.

The beautiful awkwardness of virgin Jamie and the inner struggle for Claire—Is she cheating? Will she ever get back to 1945?—forces the raw emotion to shine through. It is truly compelling, and as surreal as the premise is, it’s strangely realistic. You can see the humanity in these two, as if you were one of them, you would react the same way and do the same things in the name of love.

Now, I wanted more of Jamie’s first time, since it kind of gets skimmed over. But in the end, I saw the cleverness of Gabaldon in this. As the story goes on, the number of physical encounters increase, and the sex turns into love-making. She builds it, not just for Jamie and Claire, but for the reader. The marriage goes from necessity to curiosity, to respect,  then to need, and finally . . . sigh . . . to love. You sit back and have to re-read scenes. I was left breathless, truly breathless throughout. There were moments where, like in a movie theater, I jumped up and said, “No, he didn’t!” or “I can’t believe she’d do that!”

I mean, let’s face it. How many people would chose to stay in 1743's war-torn Scotland with a nymphomaniac/sadist hunting you, okay, really, hunting your husband. Yup, Queer Eye for the straight-Scot indeed! And this freak is actually a relation of your 20th century husband! I felt like I was watching one of my mother-in-law’s Spanish Soap Operas.

The number of times these two risk their lives for the sake of the other had me shaking my head. Literally, I wanted to strap Claire down in a chair and tell her to stay put. Tell Jamie to give her butt another whoppin’. Yes, there is a scene where the husband takes his belt to her ba-donk-adonk. It’s old-school Scotland and some things are customary or accepted. Gabaldon really makes you question yourself and your beliefs. As a woman, I cursed Jamie.  But at the same time, I thought, you almost got him killed again, Claire!

By the end, Jamie is physically and emotionally near the brink of death. Claire’s love and determination sees them through the impossible, the unthinkable. They survive war, rape, witch hunts, time travel, and the most difficult—each other.

Even at 800 pages, I will most definitely read this book again. For me, Jamie and Claire are the couple to beat. But we’ll see.  After I read more books from the lists, I'll tell you where they end up.

Charli’s Rank for Jamie and Claire:

Chemistry: A full HA-CHA–CHA
Tension: 2 of out 3 MUSCLE KNOTS
Conclusion: 3 out of 3 SIGHS

Finally, I like to imagine who would play the hero and heroine in a Hollywood rendition, and I have some contenders for Claire and Jamie. The first that came to mind is a rematch of Allie and Noah Calhoun from The Notebook. Rachel McAdams could definitely pull off Claire, but I am not sure if Ryan Gosling can pull off a Scottish accent? However, the chemistry between these two is perfect, IMO.

True Blood Eric and Sookie

I think that Alexander Skarsgard could definitely do Jamie's role justice. Now I know, Jamie is about 23, and Alex is in his 30s, but really, so what? Alex is hot enough. And he can definitely pull off the Scottish accent. Who to pair him with, though? Hmm, why not Anna Paquin? Ooh, I am liking this match.

Who would you pick?

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes image courtesy of Jay Tamboli.

Charli Mac, Aspiring Author, Mother, Wife & Part-Time Clown, Twitter @CharliMacs

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander: index | next ›
Romantic Couples: index | next ›
Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Megan Frampton
1. meganf
I'd like Kevin McKidd as Jamie, even though he too is way too old. Maybe Rachel Weisz as Claire.
Charli Mac
2. CharliMac
Ohhh, Kevin McKidd. He did a great brogue in Made of Honor. I guess it was easy for him being Scottish. LOL. Rachel would be a great Claire!
3. MsWinston
As a long-time fan of the series (I first read "Outlander" almost 20 years ago and am in the middle of the most recently published book), I hope that there is never a movie version, as I think far too many readers would be very disappointed in the casting. Take a look at the graphic novel version of "Outlander" for the author's take on the appearance of her beloved characters -- Jamie looks like a younger version of Kevin McKidd and/or Liam Neesen (sorry if I didn't get the spelling of his last name correct). And Claire looks like a reincarnation of Vivian Leigh at the time she made "Gone with the Wind." This is the way I too see the pair, and with the exception of Kidd, no one else mentioned comes close. I don't think the author has any plans for a film version of works, but I haven't checked her website recently.
4. Michelle McLean
oooo I absolutely LOVE the Outlander series. Read the first book in a day and devoured the others as quick as I could get my hands on them. Claire and Jamie are always at the top of my romance list. Totally swoon worthy :)
5. Kathryn Craft
I agree with MsWinston: some characters should spring only from the pages of a book. Once you've lived with them awhile, you can't give them away to actors. Jamie looks like no one I've ever seen, yet I can see him clearly. Even smell him! That is the power of a great book.
6. Jodie Wilson
Alexander Skarsgard is a great choice, his alph-male persona on True Blood does him justice, but I think I might choose Clive Owen, yes he too is much older, by he's a seasoned enough actor to do Jamie justice ... As for Claire, McAdams sounds like a decent choice, but I'm still considering.
Great post, Charli! Keep 'em coming! :-)
Charli Mac
7. CharliMac
Ms. Winston, it is hard to imagine our most beloved characters on screen. But sometimes a little eye candy while reading goes a long...long...way.

Michelle, I swoon just thinking about this couple.

Kathryn, I thought I was the only crazy person who could smell as I read. And Jamie is someone you can definitely inhale at length.

Jodie, Clive Owen is a hottie but not a red-head. LOL. However, I can imagine his persona taking on Jamie's...

Ms. Winston maybe right. This is a novel that should stay a novel...
8. Brenda
I loved--LOVED--the Outlander series as well. Yep, Jamie and Claire are one HOT couple. I'm not sure I would like to see these novels made into a movie/movies. The books are Fanfreakingtastic and I would be afraid the movie or movies wouldn't capture the novels properly.
Awesome post C-dog!!!
9. Martha Ramirez
Great post, Charli. Interesting to read the responses. Good question!
Charli Mac
10. CharliMac
Brenda- You know Jamie can surely make a girl's tempature rise and that's on the page. On the screen may not be the same experience, I agree.

Mart- whether or not a book should be made into a movie you cannot help but wonder who would play the parts.

Thanks lassies for stopping by!
11. Elizabeth Kelley
Loved the Outlander series. Have been a devoted fan! Thanks for the blog and sharing your thoughts!
12. Tracy A Kelly
you got me at 800 pages... LOL. much rather just read the blogs!
13. Nicole Campese
CharliMac great synopsis-very funny as well I may be ready for the challenge ooh 800 pages. I haven't done that before. I would be 800 page book virgin. Is that even a term? Maybe give it to my mom the speed reader first:) Love trying to pick actors to play the roles in books. You know the casting team missed the boat with the DaVinci code withTom Hanks- awesome actor but just didn't look like the character in my mind or described in the book. Needed someone more like Hugh Jackman maybe??? Harrison Ford was too old at the time.
Charli Mac
14. CharliMac
Elizabeth, I am gearing up to read book two very soon.

Tracy, just give it to Nicole's Mom and have her tell ya!

Nicole, Tom Hanks works if you only saw the movies, the same with Morgan Freeman from Kiss the Girls. The men from the books do not fit the actors in the movies. Hugh Jackman, ahh yes. The man could play Jesus and he'd have me swooning...
Royce Hawkins
15. Royce Hawkins
Funny, I work with a doctor that looks exactly as Gabaldon has explained him and interestingly enough his first name is James and is of scots desent. I would just love to see this series hit the big screen. I have read all 6 books and can't wait for the 7th.
Charli Mac
16. CharliMac
@Royce Hawkins I want to go to that Doctor. What does he Doctor in exactly? Ha-cha-cha! Dr. McScotty toooo Hotty!
17. Merrilie
The Outlander books are the absolute best series of books I have ever read! Truly they do not read like one would think an 800+ page book would read, but instead keep one turning the pages at such a rate that in no time the end has appeared. I read them as they were published and found myself anxiously awaiting the next one - sometimes not appearing until a year or two later. I do not usually reread books, but this series is definitely an exception!
Charli Mac
18. CharliMac
@Merrilie I re-read the last chapters at least three times. The pure, raw emotion pouring out from Jamie and Claire still gives me goosebumps.
19. Angelblue
I hope that you've continued with the series since this post. I also hope you're part of the legions of fans watching & waiting as Outlander is made into a series by the Starz channel. :)
Megan Frampton
20. MFrampton
Yes, @Angelblue, we will definitely be watching, and we'll be doing recaps as well. Thanks for stopping by!
22. Jamie'sbiggestfan
First - I LOVE your take on Outlander, Jamie and Claire, and Love. In truth this is my favorite series. BUT I do think you have some spoilers in here (though you say in the beginning you won't give too much away). Just mho, but I'd put a spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't read the books. When you know things like "there's a nymphomaniac/sadist hunting you" and "Yes, there is a scene where the husband takes his belt to her ba-donk-adonk" it makes a first time reader anticipate them instead of letting the book happen.

I do LOVE Jamie and Claire, and I can not wait for the new mini-series! I also agree with you that the first 50 or so pages of Outlander make it very difficult to stick with it. I tell everyone I recommend it to that they Must promise to give it til page 60 at least. That gets Claire into 1742 and it only takes a second for the reader to be hooked then. I am re-reading it for the 4th time and I can not believe how much fun it is - AGAIN!
23. Angelblue
P.S.: Outlander is being filmed not as a mini series but rather as a regular, full-blown series with, hopefully, many more seasons to come. Yay!
24. Elizabeth Cooperr
I love the Outlander series ..I can't wait for the TV series!!!!!
Michelle Bumgarner
25. gumby
So Outlander is coming out as a series in summer of 2014 on Starz. Anybody know the exact date?
Heather Waters
26. HeatherWaters
@gumby -- No exact date announced yet, but we'll do a post about it as soon as we hear anything official!
27. broughps
So have you seen the show and do you approve of the casting of Jamie and Claire if you have?
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