Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

While I can’t speak for Kaite, maybe the reason we’ve been bad about keeping our posts regular is books like this. While it is by no means a difficult read, at 850 pages Outlander can’t be considered a “light” read. Alas, I did finish it! And not just that – it kept my rapt attention the whole time.

The Outlander series

Claire Randall is happily married and enjoying her second honeymoon in Scotland, when she accidently “falls through” a stone at Craigh na Dun (imagine a mini Stonehenge). Suddenly she finds herself in year 1743, more than 200 years in the past. Before she realizes what’s happened, she is taken from the stone formation, her one way of getting back. Thus, Claire is forced to take up life as an honourary (though suspect) member of the MacKenzie clan. Living in the bustling Castle Leoch, she uses her 20th-century nursing knowledge to become a physician in the dark ages of medicine. And who should keep getting hurt and needing her assistance other than the wreckelss Jamie Fraser? With his glistening brow, stiff upper lip and general gorgeousness, he clearly fits the compulsory criteria for Swoon-Worthy Male Lead

One artist’s Fabio-esqe imagining of Jamie. (Personally, I prefer to picture him a little more rugged and a little less “come-hithery”.) If you’ve read the book, I strongly encourage you to Google image search “Jamie Fraser”. Never have I seen such fandemonium for an adult literary character.

Now Claire is forced to make the choice between finding her way back to Craig na Dun through treacherous lands and territorial clansmen, to a husband who was lost to her months ago, or to stay put and build a new life with Jamie. Other stuff happens, and her mind changes back and forth a few times. I won’t go into it, since this is a largely episodic, very plot-driven story with several potential spoilers.

What I will say is that I enjoyed this book a lot, though I’m not sure I’ll attempt to continue on with the following six books. (Plus – good grief! – another one due out in 2013. Say, whatever happened to the classic Trilogy?) The interesting time-travel aspect of the story got a little lost in the middle, bogged down in favour of steamy love scenes, some of which were quite violent (not cool). That said, I’m really intrigued about the discussion that could come from the use of such scenes in a book that predates modern feminism in both its timelines. Written in 1991, Gabaldon could just have easily made her protagonist a bit more averse to such strictly paternalistic patterns as she’s wont to encounter in the 1700’s. Did she choose 1945 as the starting point for her tale, so as to highlight the classic boy-sweeps-girl-off-feet romantic formula? Would the romance aspect of the story have suffered if Claire was from 1990? Would the time-travel aspect then be more important? It’s hard to answer these questions. There are obviously a lot of avenues an author can take when they decide to write time-travel, and I actually can’t fault Gabaldon for the avenue she took. In the end, the romance found in Outlander simply showcases the ups and downs that go hand-in-hand with any epic – and true-to-life – love story. Swoon-worthy, indeed. 
For all things Outlander, click here.

6 responses

  1. I read the first three in the series… super good but I decided to stop there cause it came to a good conclusion and they are just so long!

    • Maybe that’s what I’ll do. I want to know what happens if she ever goes back to her own time (which I think she does at some point?).

      JUNE 2013 EDIT: I’ve finished the initial trilogy. I agree that it was pretty good, but I’m happy to let it stop there. Another similar series is Into the Wilderness, reviewed here.

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone Who Says They Don’t Like Reading | A Novel Thing

  3. Pingback: Into the Wilderness, Sara Donati | A Novel Thing

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