REVIEW: #88 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Pages: 656
ISBN: 978-0385319959

Synopsis: (Taken From Amazon.com) Unrivaled storytelling … unforgettable characters … rich historical detail … these are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured millions of readers.

Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages….

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is 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 stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord … 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life … and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire … and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

outlander-coverReview: This is actually the second time I have read this book. That is right, the second time. Very rarely in my adult life do I ever re-read books. The first time I discovered Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I was a senior attending Florida Gulf Coast University. My roommate, Gina, was sitting on her bed with the book in her hands and reading away. Every time I would pass by her room, she was reading. Being the book worm that I was, we got into a conversation about Outlander and she insisted that I had to read it.

Initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. After all, I am not a huge fan of period pieces or fantasy or even romance for that matter. But for some reason, I did. From the beginning, I could not put it down. I believe at the time I read it in two days flat (all 600+ pages) . I am amazed that I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Very rarely can something pull me in with such depth of attachment that I physically feel for these characters. Claire Beauchamp Randall has just returned from World War II serving as a combat nurse, having spent the entire time away from her new husband, Frank Randall. Finally reunited again after the wear, they decide to go on a honeymoon to a little bed and breakfast in Scotland. However while observing a mysterious ancient rock formation, Claire finds herself whirled back in time – the 1700s to be exact.

At first Claire thinks she must have stepped foot into some sort of war reenactment but after run ins with the Red Coats, one the horrible Black Jack Randall (a long time ago relative of her very own husband, Frank) Claire realizes that much to her surprise, she has stepped over the boundaries of time.

I loved Outlander because it was obvious to me that Diana Gabaldon did much research into the time period. The characters spoke with a mixture of Gaelic and Scottish-dialect, making it an impressive and really immersive read. Then there is James Fraiser. Oh, wonderful Jamie Fraiser. Some of the things he says are so off the wall amazing that I just want to put them into a cup and drink them morning, noon, and night. (Might I remind you that I am no romance-genre fan) I absolutely loathe cheese and the stereotypical dashing hero lover — but somehow Jamie surpasses all preconceived notions and everything he says just seems genuine, and right.

I know that many people have had issues with moral values in the book; specifically the fact that Claire and Jamie develop an unmistakable intimacy when she is supposedly grieving for the loss of her husband in another time. It’s hard to justify infidelity. In fact, I am hugely against it and often find myself rolling my eyes and huffing over any form of infidelity in movies and I absolutely hate the fact when hollywood romanticizes it. But for some reason, it makes absolute sense. After all their connection was born from political necessity and for her own safety in a land much more dangerous than present day Scotland.

There are other moral issues present, specifically with male-female roles, however when readers read this they have to remember the time is in the 1700s and what Gabaldon has done is painted us a beautiful picture of what life was most likely like during that time. I also think, for what its worth, that Claire (a present day heroine) did a wonderful job of showing everyone she is worthy of respect, regardless of her mysterious arrival into their world and the fact that she is female.

Even if the idea of reading a period piece makes you yawn, or a romance for that matter to roll your eyes — I insist that you give it a try. It is beautifully written and I cannot wait to continue reading the rest of the series to find out what is in store for two of my favorite characters of all time.

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2 Comments

  1. Alexis says

    I started to read this novel and just couldn’t get into it. I’ve put it aside with a plan to revisit because I feel like I’m just missing something. Is it slow to get into? I stopped right as she touched the rocks and went back in time. Did you like it from the very beginning?

  2. Iara Dundas says

    Great review! But then again, I’m partial to the book and thus agree wholeheartedly with what you said, especially the bit about infidelity and how perfectly acceptable and necessary it is to the story. And as a historian of sorts, and thus obsessed with period pieces, those who are sticklers for historical accuracy (even in their fiction) will enjoy the experience this book gives.

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