By: Diana Gabaldon

To the Memory of My Mother,

Who Taught Me to Read—

Jacqueline Sykes Gabaldon

People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.

Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars.

Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.





“GREAT FUN…marvelous and fantastic adventures, romance, sex…perfect escape reading.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

“Gabaldon fashions deeply probed characters and a richly textured setting…history comes deliciously alive on the page.”

—Daily News (New York)

“AN OLD-FASHIONED PAGE-TURNER…a mix of history, romance and adventure.”

—The Cincinnati Post


—Los Angeles Daily News

“A feast for ravenous readers of eighteenth-century Scottish history, heroism and romance.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“INTRIGUING…satisfying…when the last page is turned it’s difficult to let the characters go.”

—Daily Press (Newport News)

“INGENIOUS…an exuberant potpourri of romance and historical adventure.”

—Anniston Star

“Gabaldon shows not only a talent with factual detail but also a flair for creating memorable characters and some striking sex scenes.”


“HIGHLY IMAGINATIVE AND SUSPENSEFUL…Gabaldon’s ambitious first novel gives the reader a well-researched view of 18th-century life as seen through the eyes of a 20th-century woman.”

—Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

“BRILLIANTLY COLORED…Diana Gabaldon is a born storyteller who will leave you breathless…She transports readers into the era with the ease of a master historian and then brings to life characters so real you’ll believe they truly existed.”

—Rave Reviews


The author would like to thank:

Jackie Cantor, Editor par excellence, whose consistent enthusiasm had so much to do with getting this story between covers; Perry Knowlton, Agent of impeccable judgment, who said, “Go ahead and tell the story the way it should be told; we’ll worry about cutting it later;” my husband, Doug Watkins, who, despite occasionally standing behind my chair, saying, “If it’s set in Scotland, why doesn’t anybody say ‘Hoot, mon?’ ” also spent a good deal of time chasing children and saying “Mommy is writing! Leave her alone!”; my daughter Laura, for loftily informing a friend, “My mother writes books!”; my son Samuel, who, when asked what Mommy does for a living, replied cautiously, “Well, she watches her computer a lot;” my daughter Jennifer, who says, “Move over, Mommy; it’s my turn to type!”; Jerry O’Neill, First Reader and Head Cheerleader, and the rest of my personal Gang of Four—Janet McConnaughey, Margaret J. Campbell, and John L. Myers—who read everything I write, and thereby keep me writing; Dr. Gary Hoff, for verifying the medical details and kindly explaining the proper way to reset a dislocated shoulder; T. Lawrence Tuohy, for details of military history and costuming; Robert Riffle, for explaining the difference between betony and bryony, listing every kind of forget-me-not known to man, and verifying that aspens really do grow in Scotland; Virginia Kidd, for reading early parts of the manuscript and encouraging me to go on with it; Alex Krislov, for co-hosting with other systems operators the most extraordinary electronic literary cocktail-party-cum-writer’s-incubator in the world, the CompuServe Literary Forum; and the many members of LitForum—John Stith, John Simpson, John L. Myers, Judson Jerome, Angelia Dorman, Zilgia Quafay, and the rest—for Scottish folk songs, Latin love poetry, and for laughing (and crying) in the right places.


Inverness, 1945



It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird’s was like a thousand other Highland bed-and-breakfast establishments in 1945; clean and quiet, with fading floral wallpaper, gleaming floors, and a coin-operated hot-water geyser in the lavatory. Mrs. Baird herself was squat and easygoing, and made no objection to Frank lining her tiny rose-sprigged parlor with the dozens of books and papers with which he always traveled.

I met Mrs. Baird in the front hall on my way out. She stopped me with a pudgy hand on my arm and patted at my hair.