by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published on June 1, 1991 by Dell
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
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I have absolutely no words, yet so many, to describe this book. For days I struggled to get past those first 30 pages, battling against the dense writing and lack of major action to entice me further. Finally, I knew I’d have to keep reading at some point or another (I mean, the book is almost 900 pages, can’t give up after only 30) so I buckled down and dove back in.
Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.
Outlander is a long book. If you’ve seen it in the library or your local bookstore, you’ve probably noticed that it’s certainly not for the weak of heart and screams of extraneous details fit for the fantasy genre. I admit, I was excited about the prospect of magic as the synopsis suggested time travel by means of magical rocks. Yet I wouldn’t call this book a fantasy so much as a step into history which makes me wonder if Diana Gabaldon is a time traveler herself.
The world is rich in detail — both of the setting and the cultural. From what I know of my own heritage, there’s a bit of Scottish blood somewhere along the line and after finishing Outlander, I’m much more curious to know exactly what kind of people my ancestors are. Hopefully none so terribly cruel and borderline psychotic as Frank Randall’s.
I’m honestly at a loss for words. Obviously parts of this book didn’t keep me entertained but those instances almost solely fall at the very beginning. Once Claire and Jamie establish a friendship everything becomes a lot more interesting. And what worked the best was Claire, herself. She didn’t shy away from being thrust into a strange time surrounded by potentially threatening strangers. What does she do? She nurses one of them. That scene alone set the tone of her character for me and continued to do so throughout the book. Over and over she proves to be strong-willed and good-hearted, becoming more and more a part of the Scottish Highlands 200 years in the past.
And if I ever find myself lost in the highlands, I hope someone like Jamie finds me. His roots show through not only in his speech but his actions as well, yet him and Claire develop a relationship that transcends tradition as her modern thinking merges with his views from an entirely different upbringing. It’s been a long time since I shipped two characters so hard but Jamie and Claire are perfect. I’ve heard rumors about some of the trials they face as a couple and I’m almost hesitant to continue the series for fear of reading those, but at the same time I NEED to read the next book. Following those initial pages, I devoured this book. It came with me everywhere so that if I had even just a minute of free time, I could keep reading (or in the case of the wedding scene, I neglected my actual work in favor of reading).
The thing with Outlander is that it’s not the best book out there. Sometimes the action never stops. Sometimes the plot tends towards a more sluggish pace. I told myself I wouldn’t watch the TV show based on the series until reading the book, which I held to. Like Game of Thrones, this book definitely works well on-screen, not usually what you hear about book-to-movie/show adaptions. The level of detail in the book translates to the show where you can truly see the setting and hear the speech marking each character as Scottish or English. But like most books-to-screen, there’s something about reading it all that captures something…extra. And for a book like this, it’s worth it.
I wouldn’t say this book truly lived up to the expectations I had based on raving reviews (likely because of the TV show counterpart) but I couldn’t put it down either. Just need to get to the store for the rest of the books!