BOOK REVIEW: Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon

Book Review

Title: Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Imprint: Doubleday Canada
Released: November 23, 2021
Pages: 928
ISBN-13: 978-0385685542
Stars:  3.5

Like every other die-hard fan of the Outlander series and Diana Gabaldon’s writing, I anxiously anticipated this ninth book, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, and man, we waited a long time for it. In the meantime, I and millions of others enjoyed the Outlander television series immensely, although it does not faithfully stick to the books’ plot lines.

I read a couple of other books simultaneously because, unlike many of the other volumes in the series, I could easily put this one down and wait for it. I was often uninterested in the lives of the newer characters, including Silvia Hardman and her family, Agnes and Fanny. I also felt that William received a lot of space but didn’t do anything of substance, although hopefully, that will come. I find it hard to connect with William and care about him even though I want to, but I enjoyed him getting to know Bree a little.

I have read these books because I love Jamie and Claire, their love story and adventures. I wanted Diana Gabaldon to spend more time with them in this book than she did. However, I also appreciate Roger and Brianna, Young Ian (though his Quaker wife Rachel is a bore), Fergus and Marsali (I would’ve liked to see them have a much larger storyline) and especially Lord John Grey. I love him as much as the Frasers. I could do with fewer children in the story, but I understand why they need to be there. I also enjoy every appearance of John Quincy Myers. I could care less about the rest of the characters (except for Hal and Percy); in my humble opinion, they received far too much time.

There must be antagonists in every book, and Ezekiel Richardson has proven to be a decent one, although he is no Jack Randall or Stephen Bonnet.

My favourite scenes included the bear attack on Amy, the emotional scene between Jamie and Jenny, and when Fergus finds out who his birth father is. That was awesome! I also thoroughly enjoyed the heart-pounding battle scene near the end of the book and holding my breath to see whether Jamie would come out alive.

While characters like Amy, Fanny, Agnes, and Silvia may support the storyline, they receive too much space. Unlike Amaranthus, they are not exciting characters, and I wouldn’t have cared if Gabaldon had omitted them. Also, while dramatic, the whole baby-delivering incident with Agnes’ mom didn’t feel unique compared to other scenes Diana has written in past books. I know she doesn’t write linearly, but in scenes, as they come to her. Sometimes I think that method can make the book cumbersome.

I will have to trust that she had a reason for everything. There is no doubt that I will read the tenth book, which I hope will be the end of the series. Jamie and Claire, at their age, likely won’t have the types of adventures that they once experienced—which made for exhilarating novels. I don’t care anymore how many of Fraser’s Ridge settlers Claire heals or how many babies she delivers, or about them hanging out with a dozen grandchildren or fighting in more small battles during the birth of the United States. (I didn’t mind the bees.) I would like to see their entire immediate family return to Scotland in the tenth book, whether to the eighteenth century or the twentieth. I want to know how it ends, and I think Gabaldon could wrap it up nicely in 600 pages or less.

Here’s hoping I live long enough to read it.