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 Post subject: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 12:08 am 
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Clan Fraser
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:bagpipe: As of the beginning of the Written in My Own Heart's Blood rekilt, all books currently published (as of 1/2016) are open for discussion. The spoiler policy can be found here. Please do not discuss excerpts from Diana's Daily Lines related to book 9 or any other not yet published works in the MOBY discussion threads. To discuss excerpts of upcoming works, see the threads here.


Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Part 8: Search and Rescue
Chapter 135: Amaranthus

Saperville
January 15, 1779



Hal and John have finally caught up with the elusive Amaranthus Cowden Grey. Everything about the home in which she resides is run down and unkempt. The slattern who answers the door tries to turn the Grey brothers away, stating there is no Mrs. Grey in the household. Lord John can tell the slattern recognizes the Duke of Pardloe’s name and proceeds to take matters into his own hands. He locks up the maid in the cubbyhole and shoots off the lock from the bedroom door in order to rescue the young mother and child. Viscountress Grey is curious to know who has come to her aid. It is not clear if she ever expected to meet her father-in-law and uncle by marriage, but here they are at her service.

Hal and John make a comical pair. They ask Amaranthus about her strange name and learn her father was a botanist. Luckily she was not named Ampelopsis or Petunia. :) They quickly take to the baby and Hal even has the child, Trevor Wattiswade Grey, teethe on his gorget, a Grey family tradition.

Amaranthus claims Benjamin is dead and is only too happy to leave with her new-found in-laws. This “Search and Rescue” is finally over and so is Part 8.

I wasn’t sure what John and Hal would discover in Saperville, but was expecting there to be some sort of trap waiting for them. Instead, they have to force their way into the home of Amaranthuus and rescue her.

What did you make of the slattern (who is nameless) and her reluctance to let Hal and John into the house? Is she holding Amaranthus and Trevor hostage or protecting them? Why else would the bedroom door be locked?

Did anyone recall that Wattiswade is Minnie’s surname prior to marriage? We know Minnie’s father was a spymaster, and that Minnie herself worked as a spy for her father, which is how she ended up meeting her future husband, Hal. Does the naming of the baby “Wattiswade” remind us about this lineage of spies?

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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 9:38 am 
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Clan Fraser

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Thanks Lady Jayne. I still find the whole Amaranthus saga confusing. I suppose the Wattiswade name gives more credence to this truly being the wife and son of Ben but I can't figure out the reasoning behind adding this sidestep into the overall story. Amaranthus obviously thinks Ben is dead but we don't know for sure either way.
Hopefully more will be explained later but for the moment this story line seems a distraction.

One thing I would add. Since we first met Hal when he was arranging for the Scottish prisoners to be executed after Culloden, he seems to be a very different character to the upright, honourable soldier we met then. Still honourable but far more likeable and humourous. Perhaps he has just mellowed and matured in the intervening years? After all nearly 33 years have passed.


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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 10:13 am 
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Clan Fraser
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Great summary and questions. I find the Amaranthus story confusing as well. It appeared to me that she was being held there by the "slattern" -- but for how long and for what purpose? How does this relate to the various purchases used to track her down, which made it seem as though she had money for luxury items? To find her in a run-down house in the middle of nowhere seems to contradict previous information, although it's possible I suppose that she was recently moved (kidnapped?). I still don't believe Ben is dead. Whatever Amaranthus has been told about him, there's no reason to suppose it's more trustworthy than anything else, particularly if Richardson is involved.

I do love John and Hal's use of bowing and proper titles even when rescuing Amaranthus as she's waving the stool around and they just shot off the doorknob. (Nice little joke about the doorknob, too.)

MOBY is the first of the "big enormous books" where we've really spent time with Hal, isn't it? Apart from Voyager, where we only got brief glimpses, and then, as Suec points out, it was post-Culloden. We only really get to know him through the LJ books otherwise, but fortunately those let us see his funny side, especially in tandem with LJ himself.

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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 10:53 am 
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I agree that the Amaranthus story line has been confusing so far. She appears to have been held against her will, but to what end? Ransom? No note has been sent demanding any. Leverage against Benjamin, if he is alive, or a way to manipulate Hal in the future? If she is being held captive secretly, then why, as Lisa mentions, let her send an order for luxuries in her own name? Perhaps that was done before she was taken, but her captors took no care to move her to a more hidden location. I hope it will be sorted out in the next book! I'm glad she was finally found at least!

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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 1:29 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I agree that this storyline is confusing at best. I hope she is exactly who she says she is and that her son really is Ben's and that Ben is alive. There's a tiny niggle saying that she could end up helping Richardson or his cohorts in some way if she gets herself into the Grey family and this could all be a set up, but I just don't want that to be true. Hopefully, even if that was the initial plan, she'd change her mind since the Greys are being kind to her and the woman there and whoever else is involved - presumably Richardson, but who else? - have not kept her in good conditions (though that could be part of a set up, too). But, she has a baby, so I'd like to believe that she wouldn't put herself and him into a situation like that willingly. Could Richardson have come up with the name Wattiswade? Maybe from torturing Ben or somehow befriending any of the brothers (or even William) and finding out some family info? That was really the only thing that gave her any "proof" of what she said and if the info was gotten some other way, she could be lying. I consider it possible, but I just don't want that to be the case. :scared:

I kind of loved the bit where she said her name could have been worse. :lol: That makes me like her.

Yes, this book is the first time Hal has been seen much in one of the Big Books. And, yes, I think he has mellowed a bit over time, but John still feels the need to step in and smooth things some, so he's not all that mellow. ;)

Just a sort of side note: John has just met Amaranthus and refers to her as "my dear" asking if that is OK. He calls lots of people (women? not sure if he ever does it with men or boys) my dear, so when he did that with Claire earlier it was quite natural, but Jamie completely overreacted.


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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 1:50 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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ABL, I also wonder about the truth of the story and the name "Wattiswade". It really shouldn't be that impossible for someone who knows the family to find out a family name like that, even without Google. :)

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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Hal and John are seasoned judges of people and they seem to trust Amaranthus. They noticed immediately that the slattern recognized Hal's name. So if Amaranthus is in on the scam, she must be an accomplished actress! Someone could have impersonated Ben and seduced her so that she falsely believes she is his widow, but that is getting a shade ridiculous! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 5:28 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I can see so many possible scenarios re Amaranthus:

- She really did meet and marry Ben and have his child. She believes he's dead. Is possibly being held against her will and/or forced to cooperate.
- Same as above, she thinks he's dead, and she has run away or is in hiding for some unknown reason.
- She had Ben's child, but is in league with Richardson somehow.
- She's a total fraud, never met Ben, has either her own or someone else's child, and is actively working to infiltrate or blackmail the Grey family.
- And so many possible permutations...

I wish we had answers!

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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 8:07 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Thanks for the chapter summary, Lady Jayne. I'm glad we found Amaranthus, but frustrated that we don't know any more about her. Lisa, you have posed a good set of questions. Even if she has been set up to spy on the Greys, I still think she and her baby will be better off in their company than where she is now. I hope this story line is resolved in the next book.


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 Post subject: Re: MOBY: Ch. 135 - Amaranthus
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 8:05 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Thanks for the summary, Lady Jayne. Wonderful questions. (I'm not sure I have answers.) All nicely presented, as always.

It does sound as if Amaranthus is being held against her will and not being too well treated. The slattern would suggest some sort of identity fraud to extort some money from the Greys.

The only person, whom I also believe to be alive (habeas corpus!), to confirm the story or not is Benjamin himself and I suspect he will appear in the next book. It would seem that Amaranthus may have been lured to Savannah by "friends" when her aunt passed away. Richardson has a hand in this, and may be using Grey's family as a way of getting information from him and poor Ben may very well be in a prison somewhere. (I don't remember how this ended) Also, Richardson knowing about Lord John's homosexuality may be another method of extortion to benefit the rebels. These ideas are my theories.
There is a reason we don't like Richardson. Hal doesn't like or trust him; John doesn't like or trust him.

It's clear that ER was trying to win some accolade in Washington's Camp by leading William into the enemy camp where he would have been captured and hanged. Fortunately, some hazards, which seemed pretty dangerous in and of themselves, were not as dangerous as having Washington's men know William was a spy. Richardson may have even told Washington to expect him. Not too difficult to describe a very tall man, wearied from his travails. William's fate would not have differed from Nathan Hale's. :(

Thanks for the reminder that Wattiswade was Minnie's surname prior to marriage. I had forgotten that. I listened to the chapter and I hope I didn't miss that. It doesn't really prove anything. Information is not that difficult to come by if one is a spy. A good spy would have gotten that bit with ease. It proves nothing as to the baby's identity or Amaranthus's marital status. It's all circumstantial.

What we know: There is someone named Amaranthus who claims to be married to Benjamin (no reliable witnesses/clergy have verified the union, though) and that this new relation has had a child and the two seem to be held under lock and key. The child's clouts are not being laundered either. Since the slattern was not expecting the two men (maybe she was) we can believe that she is their jailer. :thinking:

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