Gabaldon’s Fifty Shades of Red

November 16, 2014 by Jen

While movie sequels sustain the box office, so too, book series are at the forefront of the latest crazes: from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games, Twilight to Divergent. Let’s face facts: we like to binge (*cough* House of Cards).

I am no exception. Despite reservations, I picked up Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander a few months ago and plowed through the 850-page tome, winced over the last hundred pages like so many fans before me, and by the end, was reaching reluctantly for the next.

About a quarter of the way through book two, I began to realize that other readers who had described the series as “Fifty Shades of Gray in Scotland” were insightful but mistaken: the real connection is not the racy content, but rather the authors’ shared fascination with color hues. (I suspect secret side careers with Pantone®.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 10.42.16 AMI am speaking, of course, of Gabaldon’s love affair with redheads. Seriously. Someone had it bad for Pantone 8024c and 185u. With no further ado, I bring you a sampling of Fifty Shades of Red:

Outlander (Dell, 1992)

  •  “‘It’s all right.’ But he had gone pale beneath the coppery stubble of his beard.”
  • “Jamie MacTavish ducked automatically as he came through the door, bright hair darkened by the rain to the color of ancient bronze.”
  • “He glowed like red amber against the room’s darkness as the wick caught and the light swelled behind him.”
  • “His back was straight as an alder sapling and his hair shone under the sun like a helmet of burnished metal.”

Dragonfly in Amber (Dell, 1993)

  • “But not the remarkable height, the cascade of waist-length red hair, sparked with gold and copper, streaked with amber and cinnamon, curling casually around face and shoulders like a mantle.”
  • “He noted with approval that the sun lit her thick single braid with glints of copper and gold.”
  • “‘No, I’ll do,’ he said, face invisible behind the tangle of roan and cinnamon.”
  • “I sniffed his hair, where the scent of tobacco lingered among the ruddy waves. The candlelight shot the red with strands of gold…”
  • “I rubbed the lock of hair between thumb and forefinger, splaying the cut ends in a small spray of roan and amber.”
  • “The small, warm breeze stirred the drying tufts of soft cinnamon hair beneath his arms, and ruffled the copper and gold that waved gently over his wrists, where they braced his head.”


**Disclaimer: Despite turning crimson at the thought, I am still reading these florid tales, currently in the middle of book three. Guilty. I do love my PMS (Pantone Matching System). Don’t hold it against me. I work in print production, after all.

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