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Date Posted: 20:53:44 09/29/14 Mon
Author: Shadow
Subject: I've always liked and rather admired Claire every bit as much as Jamie. I've also always felt sorry for Frank and disliked BJR. Now I'm also really really scared of BJR! Speaking of Frank though, one of the "other" Outlander sites of which I am a member---I think it was actually the "perky" one! Hah! ---posted a really interesting letter from DG about Frank in their files and encouraged us to download it. I have done so and I copy it here for those who have trouble liking Frank (It's long. Be prepared!) :D >>>>>>>
In reply to: M&M 's message, "Okay I'm gonna say it! *g*" on 13:00:23 09/29/14 Mon

Nov. 12, 2005

"Dear Diana,
I'm writing because I was asked by ------(nameless individual)------to intervene in a Huge Argument being debated. (We are trying to avoid Internet bloodshed and hurt feelings!) Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with ABOSAA or rather, very little.



The very "heated" discussion is surrounding Frank's role in his relationship with Claire upon her return from the eighteenth century. 

Specifically:



1) WHY did Frank stay with Claire if he wasn't getting the love he desired/needed? (evidenced by the affairs that he thought Claire knew nothing about) Why didn't he just leave?



2) Was Claire "cheating" on Frank during this period because her heart still belonged to Jamie, even though she believed him dead? (Your/Claire's perspective)



3) IS Frank the "pathetic slime-ball" a couple of people have labeled him? (Not my opinion or my words, by the way--just relating the questions).



-- Thanks, Susan.



Diana's reply:

Nov. 13, 2005



"As to L'Affaire Frank... Geez Louise. You guys. 



Of course Frank isn't "a pathetic slimeball." Where do they come up with these ideas? (My personal guess would be that the people holding this particular opinion are possibly not that fond of their own SO, and would trade him in for Jamie in a heartbeat. Ergo, they project things onto Frank. But that's only a guess.)



Look. In the books, we see Claire and Frank's relationship only from Claire's point of view. Which is understandably a trifle biased, following her return through the stones.



What we see prior to her disappearance is an awkward but affectionate relationship between two people who are married, but who are effectively strangers-they've barely seen each other in six years, and have been back together for only a few days. They're feeling each other out, trying to reestablish the connection they once had, and struggling to overcome the fact that they are now quite different people than who they once were.



Frank asks her diffidently at one point whether she had ever been tempted to stray during the war-assuring her that he would understand if she had. Claire-and the reader-think that his reason for doing this may well be that he had strayed, and would feel better about confessing his own transgression if she had suffered similar temptations.



Well, maybe he did, and maybe he didn't. It's actually not an abnormal question to ask a mate you haven't seen in six years, and one whom you know has been working closely with hundreds of wounded (and thus possibly emotionally appealing) men, in conditions that you know are stressful, dangerous, and highly conducive to passionate, if short-lived, physical attractions.



He's trying to ask it tactfully, but-they're strangers. She takes offense, and he hastily drops the question. He doesn't bring it up again, in the time they're together-which is fairly short. So you have to draw your own conclusion there:



1) he hasn't been having affairs himself, but can't help a certain male feeling of curiosity/jealousy about what Claire might have been doing,



2) perhaps he had a brief fling, which he regrets, and wants to confess this to Claire, so their marriage can resume without his feeling constant guilt, or



3) he's been screwing every woman who crossed his path, but would like to find out that Claire's had her own affairs, so he can throw it back at her in case she ever finds out.



OK. There is NO evidence favoring any one of these three alternatives. None. Any one of them is as likely as another. The reader's conclusions depend on the reader-and each reader brings his or her own experiences and background to the act of reading.



Now, Claire disappears. No warning, no trace, no nothing. What do you reckon happened, when she didn't come back? A police search, no leads-and probably deep suspicion of the husband, who is the Most Likely Suspect. So Frank's left panicked, then grief-stricken, while probably being interrogated and threatened about his wife's disappearance. But this must obviously have all died down in the next three years, and Frank begins to rebuild his life.



Does the rebuilding involve any kind of relationship with women, or a woman? Quite possibly; he's a handsome, personable man, with friends who would think it their duty to introduce him to women.



BUT.



Claire comes back. Filthy, malnourished, and hysterical, if not outright demented. And, of course, pregnant. She tells him an unbelievable story, presumably the product of a disordered mind, the
result of whatever horrible abduction/captivity/rape has resulted in her present condition. She tells him to leave her.



Does he leave her? No. Does he produce another woman and explain that actually, dear, while you were gone, Mary and I. No. He replies shortly that no one but a cad would leave a woman in her condition.



So, OK. HE doesn't think he's a cad. Why on earth should anybody else? He does stay with Claire, not only while she's recovering, but thereafter. There's no hint that he's pursuing a love affair started while she was gone; in fact, he takes her to Boston, so that no hint of scandal will attend Bree's birth. If he did have some relationship while she was gone, plainly he's broken it off (and perhaps the removal to Boston is to make such a break more definite-we don't know, because we don't know what he was doing during those three years).



All right. From this point on, Claire's view of Frank is definitely suspect, because her own state of mind makes it impossible for her to connect fully with him, save for brief interludes of tenderness, when they're able to reach one another physically (like the night he makes love to her on the floor of the nursery). Yes, their relationship is strained-we know that, because we see it. But the relationship of any new parents is strained (believe me on this), even if the two parties aren't on difficult terms to start with. And these two parties definitely are.



Claire thinks he may be having affairs, but she doesn't ever have evidence of it. Either the guy is very dang good at hiding this stuff (and unfaithful spouses almost always give themselves away)-or he isn't having affairs. He may well be seeking companionship, sympathy, and ego-reinforcement from other women (he ain't gettin' a lot of those things at home-but note that he isn't leaving, either), but it's at least possible that he isn't crossing the line into actual physical
infidelity. Note that Claire says that now and then she forces her sexual attentions on him, trying to prove that he's been with someone else (and thus unable to respond to her)-but that every time, he does respond to her, even if with mutual rage.



On the other hand, Frank knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that Claire's been unfaithful to him. At first, he most likely thinks she's been raped, but she goes on insisting on her absurd story. If it's true in any way-then she did it on purpose. This can't do his feelings any good. But he stays, because only a cad would abandon a pregnant woman with no resources-and he isn't a cad.



See, all these red-eyed readers are identifying with Claire (for the excellent reason that she's telling the story)-but they'd do better to watch Frank. He clearly has a code of honor, and by God, he's sticking to it, dearly though it may cost him. Would a man with this kind of code then proceed to have promiscuous affairs?



Maybe--but maybe not. His own image of himself as an honorable man is probably as valuable to him as Claire is, at this point; if he won't abandon her, he won't abandon that image, either.




Now, their relationship is definitely a difficult one. On Claire's side, there's grief, resentment (over being parted from Jamie), the fractured feelings of giving birth to Jamie's baby, and the struggle
to build a career (which is probably not something Frank ever expected her to want to do, and wasn't prepared for). You note that she apologizes to Frank only once, in their initial conversation after her return-at which point, she's completely hysterical. She makes it clear that she loves Jamie more than him, even if Jamie is dead-this is Not All That Good for a marriage.



Mind, divorce was simply Not Done at this time, in either the UK or the US. A divorced woman was stigmatized, as was the child of divorced parents.



Frank--honorable man that he sees himself as-isn't going to expose either Claire or Bree to that stigma. Besides, he's in love with Brianna, and doesn't want to be parted from her. To not only divorce Claire but also get custody of Bree would mean a huge, ugly, public court-case, in which he would have to accuse Claire of moral depravity, alcoholism, and anything else he could think of-and prove it. No-fault divorce hadn't been invented; a divorce had to be approved by a juDianae, on the basis of strong evidence. (For the same reasons, Claire wouldn't seek to divorce Frank.)



A) She wouldn't deprive Brianna of a father who plainly loved her,



B) she wouldn't expose Bree to the trauma of an ugly divorce case, and



C) she'd have to prove that Frank was guilty of various horrible things.



And we do see evidence that he still does love Claire. He's angry at her, confused by what's happened, and obviously having a hard time with everything-but he does love her. Enough to help her with her medical career, even though he doesn't like her having it and objective enough to admire the sense of destiny that drives her to it, even though he's somewhat jealous that he doesn't possess that drive himself.



Frank a pathetic slimeball? Good grief. He's the major tragic figure of the books, unsung though he is. He is-on the evidence to hand-a stand-up guy, who's taken a horrible set of circumstances (which he didn't cause and had nothing to do with) and done the best he could to build a family, do right by his daughter, and treasure what strands of occasional tenderness form between himself and his guilt-ridden, emotionally-distant wife."



That help?



--Diana
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


On Nov. 14, 2005

Diana wrote:


"P.S. Forgot to note in the above that Frank, Claire, and Brianna are all Catholics. Catholics _really_ didn't get divorced in the '50's--they still don't do it all that often, since it means
excommunication.



I don't at all understand why the anti-Frank contingent thinks Claire should have left the marriage, though. Why? Frank wasn't beating her, or mentally torturing her, or otherwise behaving badly (with, of course, the _possible_ exception that he was being unfaithful. And that, we don't know). The only overwhelming reason she might have had would be to go back to Jamie--which is something that Frank obviously knows, which is why he doesn't tell her when he finds evidence that Jamie didn't die at Culloden. (And while I'm sure that the anti-Frank people view this as more evidence that he's a Bad Person, consider what he himself says in his letter to the Reverend. True, he _didn't_want to lose her (i.e., he loved her), but he also didn't want to cause her and/or Brianna additional grief and suffering by giving her an impossible choice. She was by that time reconciled to her live in the present, doing well as a doctor, and if their marriage wasn't great, it mostly wasn't bad.



If she knew Jamie was alive, though...either she'd choose to try to return to him, leaving her young daughter (more horrible guilt), or she'd stay for Bree's sake, but be constantly torn by yearning for Jamie. So Frank didn't tell her. He clearly had mixed motives for that, but they weren't necessarily evil ones, at all."



Quoted per Diana in its entirety.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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Replies:

[> [> Thank you so much for that, Shadow! It helps clarify my feelings for Frank that I am getting from the series. I never disliked him, I was always so involved with Jamie and Claire that I couldn't spare the love or time for Frank. -- Florence, 21:36:00 09/29/14 Mon

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[> [> [> You're welcome! And I got it from the Tarts, not the perky patrol. :) -- Shads, 22:10:47 09/29/14 Mon

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[> [> [> [> LOL -- M-another-M, 11:34:25 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> [> I have to ask: Who on earth are The Perky Patrol? And who are The Tarts? -- Lemora, 19:39:54 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> [> [> They're facebook groups. One is all about only saying happy things about the show---no criticisms or negative comments allowed. An interesting group but unflaggingly perky. The other is a Tobias Menzies fan page. -- Shads, 10:06:39 10/01/14 Wed

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[> [> [> [> [> [> Oh. Another mystery of life solved. I will never encounter these people. Thank you. -- Lemora, 18:12:59 10/01/14 Wed

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[> [> Thank you, Shadow! Very enlightening! It's not that I ever disliked Frank. I just don't care for him. Though in the end, all I can think when I read DG's message is Claire and Frank had been mainly apart for six years, but they knew (or at least they had an idea) where the other one was and what was going on. And look how awkward and closed with each other they still were, even a few days into their second honeymoon (even more so in the book than in the series). Then Claire and Jamie were apart for 20 (twenty!) years, thinking each other dead (and even after they found each other, Jamie still can't know how life was in the 20th century) -- and yet, they connect, really connect, so quickly and beautifully. Too many adverbs :) but it does tell us something about the concept of soulmate. -- Rita, 03:51:57 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> Me too! And you said it much better than I could! -- CarolE, 06:25:47 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> [> Well, I'll tell you, I think Claire's clinging to the memory of a "dead" man probably had a lot to do with Frank becoming a distant and emotionally unavailable husband. If she had been able to fully recommit to Frank ---none of the separation was his fault after all--- things might have been happier between them. I can't help thinking that most of the difficulties in their marriage were her fault. -- Shads, 07:34:00 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> [> [> I too think Frank and Claire's marriage failed mainly because Claire couldn't be the wife he needed. Couldn't be his wife at all, in fact. But that was not really her fault. More something like fate. Bad luck for Frank that she met Jamie, and after knowing what a full marriage was, there's no way to UNknow it. Just like after reading these books. Many other good books now pale in comparison :) -- Rita, 11:20:40 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> I think that Frank and Claire, even after the separation of war, each thought they were the love of their lives. They were working on rekindling that, becoming a family, growing old together.... But then Claire found her soulmate in Jamie and it changed things for her irrevocably. I don't think that she no longer loved Frank. It's just that those feelings paled in comparison and would never be able to hold a candle to what she had with Jamie, even after 20 years of thinking him dead. To me that's a much better story than Frank just being a cad or Claire just being able to throw him over without a second thought. -- LadyJay, 09:07:57 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> [> [> Yes, I agree 100%. Claire's marriage to Frank would probably be a good, nice and sedate marriage if she'd never met Jamie. But after having what she had with Jamie, there's no way she would happily settle for 2nd best. As she couldn't lie, Frank knew it -- and so the whole debacle of that marriage was unavoidable. Up to the point where Frank actually intends to take her daughter from Claire. Frank could never compete with Jamie, not because he was competing with a dead man, I don't think (there are plenty of happy 2nd marriages for people who lost their first spouse). It was simply because Frank and Claire were not so well matched as Jamie and Claire. Even early in the book, Frank is not that happy when Claire is unconventional. While Jamie, himself an unconventional man, not only doesn't mind (except when her behaviour puts her at risk) but is actually proud of his unusual wife. "A rare woman", he calls her -- and he loves her well :) -- Rita, 11:15:45 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> Interesting - I think Frank is a mystery. I find that he is sympathetic as the husband-left-behind & I'm probably one of the few who was delighted to see his story unfold as he looked for Claire. To me, how he coped makes a huge difference in how he will respond when she reappears - I've always been curious about that. However, he always seems to do one thing to make me sympathetic towards him, then does something to make me dislike him. I don't have a good grasp on his innate character & obviously, DG has created him that way on purpose. -- MaryJ, 06:57:03 09/30/14 Tue

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[> [> This is great, Shadow! Thank you for posting. I love how diplomatic Diana is with her own works. -- TracyAnn, 07:27:04 09/30/14 Tue

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