Friday, January 2, 2015

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldon

Available for the first time as an exclusive eBook in this original Outlander novella, Diana Gabaldon reveals what really happened to Roger MacKenzie Wakefield’s parents. Orphaned during World War II, Roger believed that his mother died during the London Blitz, and that his father, an RAF pilot, was killed in combat. But in An Echo in the Bone, Roger discovers that this may not be the whole story. Now, in “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows,” readers finally learn the truth.

Published & Release Date: Random House, December 3, 2012

Time and setting: World War II England

Genre: Historical Romance/Time-Travel

Heat Level: 1

Reviewer rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Vikki’s Musings

When I discovered this novella that explains more of Roger MacKenzie’s parents, I could not wait to read it. Roger is one of my favorite characters from the Outlander series. I found this tale enthralling. There is a sweet romance in it showing a brief glimpse of the love between Jerry MacKenzie and his ‘Dolly’. While this is primarily in Jerry’s point of view, since it depicts his adventure, there is a scene, involving Dolly and Frank Randall, which is in her POV. Yes, I did mention Frank Randall, Claire Randall’s first husband.

Jerry meets with Captain Frank Randall and is given a new covert mission to fly over the Nazi camps in Poland and take photographs of the atrocities that are happening there. Before he leaves for this dangerous assignment, he is able to visit his wife and young son, and there is a tender, playful scene between the couple, that touches my heart.

While practicing for his upcoming mission, he is flying over Northumberland when his plane experiences difficulties and he has to make a crash landing. When he regains consciousness, he finds himself lying in mud and grass. He has clearly been thrown from his plane. Darkness is starting to fall with mist swirling around him. Staggering to his feet, an attack of vertigo has him reeling, “but to his right he made out two or three large, bulky shapes, standing upright”.  

As he draws closer, he realizes they are huge stones. He leans against one of them to get his bearings; outside the ring of stones he sees what must be his plane. Then a terrible ringing in his ears and intense pain in his head causes him to black out again. When he awakens, it is now dark. He looks around for his plane, but all he finds is the thick meadow grass. Thus begins his travel back to a time where the speech is unintelligible and obviously not the England he knew. During a misadventure with several men in odd looking short pants, they take his jacket and dog tags and throw him into a ravine.  

The story then jumps to two year later in London, when Dolly receives a visit from Captain Frank Randall. He has brought her a little box, inside is a MID oakleaf cluster, awarded posthumously for her husband’s bravery and sacrifice. She does not want it and rages at the captain, who handles it stoically. The pain Dolly feels is palpable and brought tears to my eyes. After she has her tirade, she calms down, they have tea and then she shows him to the door. Captain Randall tells her, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it. He did that, every day, for a long time.”

Then Dolly replies, “You sent him, though,” she said, her voice as low as his. “You did.”

Then the door closes and the captain is gone.

Then the story takes me back to Northumbria and Jerry’s continued misadventures. I will leave it at that because I do not want to give you any spoilers. Even though this is a short novella, it still has the excellent character development that I always expect from Ms. Gabaldon. While this story does not have a happy ending, it does give me the chance to get to know Roger’s parents, to see the love and honor that made Jerry a man that Roger could be proud of. This is a book you will want to read if you are a fan of the Outlander series. Happy reading!

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