Outlander Book Club: Book 2, Chapter 15 breakdown

Outlander Season 2 -- Courtesy of STARZ
Outlander Season 2 -- Courtesy of STARZ /
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Outlander Season 2 — Courtesy of STARZ /

Just the Outlander chapter

We start the chapter with a focus on the letters. They’ve become the most important part of Jamie’s time in Paris. It’s where he’s getting the truth.

The problem is there’s a cipher to crack. He’s sure the letters are in English, but he can’t figure out what the words actually are. He just knows that the letters replace another letter, a simple cipher as long as he can work out the alphabet placement.

One thing he has noticed is that King James doesn’t exactly want to be restored to the throne. All he’s wanted is to make sure his sons are looked after when he’s gone, which is why he’s sent Charles to the French court. He would like Louis to offer him a place in the army or something. The book doesn’t mention it but James’s other son ends up going into the Church.

Charles has other ideas. He wants his father restored to the throne. After all, he’ll want it for himself. James also can’t openly admit that he’s happy with life now since it means losing support from everyone. He needs to pretend that the restoration is something he still wants.

That isn’t going to stop Jamie from figuring out the cipher. In fact, while Claire is at the hospital that day, Jamie turns up with sheets of music—his conversation with Bouton was just so cute. I’m glad Mother Hildegarde saw the funny side to it, probably seeing the look on Claire’s face and knowing Jamie wouldn’t hurt Bouton.

Jamie has learned that Mother Hildegarde knows music. She could help him figure out something that looks wrong with the music. While he may not be able to hear the songs, he can still read the music to tell that something’s wrong. Mother Hildegarde agrees to look at it, with Claire remaining with her that night.

And so, we see Mother Hildegarde and Claire working together. I’ll admit that two things surprise me in this chapter. The first is that Claire can read music. We’ve never been told this. She doesn’t even think about it. I do find it rather convenient to just add it in, as I can’t even think of when she’d be on the archeological findings with her uncle that music would come up!

Another thing that surprises me is that Jamie is just happy to pass her the music and ask her what looks odd about it. This is a cipher. It could include all sorts of dangerous material. Not only is Jamie trusting her (when he said previously he only trusted four people), but he also doesn’t seem to care that he could be putting her at risk. This just seems so out of character for the Jamie we’ve come to know at this point.

Mother Hildegarde does, once she and Claire have figured out the cipher, point out that she can be trusted with the information. Claire makes a note that Jamie wouldn’t have come to Mother Hildegarde if he didn’t feel like he could trust her, but it still leaves me with some uneasy thoughts about the matter.

Anyway, we learn a little more about Mother Hildegarde in this, which I do appreciate. She is a musical prodigy but as a woman, she didn’t feel like there was a career. She also had a calling into the church and that’s what she followed. However, she does name drop a few important people in the world of music, including Bach, but as if they’re nobody famous. I wonder how many people now we mention in passing that we know but don’t expect to become famous centuries later.

After breaking down the cipher, Claire realizes there is an “S” at the end. Is it leftover or does it mean something? We’ll have to wait to find out.