Outlander Book Club: Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 5 breakdown

We get a look at John's home life in Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 5. Here's our breakdown of the chapter.
Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ
Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ /

Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 5 initially looks like something quiet and unnecessary. It’s actually an important chapter to get to know more about Lord John Grey.

When this novel first came out, we knew very little about Lord John. We’d met him at Ardsmuir and then sightly later in Jamaica, but we didn’t really know all that much about him. It was only in later books that we got chapters from his point of view, and they were possibly thanks to the development in the spin-off novels.

Quieter chapters are needed in books, even in fast-paced murder mysteries. We need to get to know the lead, especially when there are more books planned. This is also a great chance to learn why John was in Scotland in the first place!

Breaking down Lord John and the Private Matter Chapter 5

We pick up with John returning to his mother’s home. He wants to get in and head to his room, but that’s impossible. His mother has an event with guests, and John is definitely underdressed considering everything that’s happened so far.

John spends a moment with Lady Mumford. This happens to be the mother of Hector, John’s lover who we learned about at Culloden. He died at the Battle of Culloden, and John was distraught over the loss. Hal had to pull his brother away, and I’m guessing Hal knew exactly why John was so distraught.

Lady Mumford talks all about her time in India since John’s regiment is expected to be posted there next. She then pulls him over to Trevelyan. John is introduced to Stephen von Namtzen, a Hanoverian man who nobody seems to like. John also has a negative view of him at first, but it’s clear that this man could end up being important. Why introduce him now if he wasn’t?

There is a little bit of focus on the plot, as Trevelyan shares that he didn’t send Tom Byrd to John at all.

Tom lied about who he was to Trevelyan and the fact that Trevelyan sent him. John decides to cover for the man seeing it as imaginative and an advantage to the murder case. I admit that my immediate thought was that he has something to do with it. Why else would he put himself in the middle of a murder case? This is certainly a good look at the way John’s mind work, and he’s not always ahead of the game.

The chapter ends with Trevelyan talking about his marriage to Olivia, who we did meet earlier in the chapter and she was the one who made sure John couldn’t escape the party. I do love that we see John’s love for his cousin and his family as a whole. It continues to remind us as to why William ends up so important to him.

Back to Trevelyan, it’s clear that he still assumes the marriage is on. John starts to wonder if Trevelyan even thinks that he could be inflicted with syphilis. Some things aren’t quite adding up right now.

Could this chapter be used in a Lord John Grey spin-off?

There are certainly elements of this chapter that would be necessary to the story if we got a Lord John Grey spin-off series. We need to see the part where John meets Namtzen, and we need to see the part where it turns out Tom lied about everything. These play a bigger role later on.

It would also be useful to meet Olivia at this point. She is the one who gets John to stay at the party when he wants to get away, and there is the topic of her wedding that keeps coming up.

What about Lady Mumford, though? This could depend on the type of development the show would want for Lord John Grey. We know about Hector, and we know how important he was to John. This could be important to understand why John was exiled to Scotland in the first place. However, there may be too much to fit into the story.

I could see this story only making up one or two episodes. It would be difficult to fit in everything and everyone.

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