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Book Review – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon
850 pages
Published June 1, 2991
Historical romance

We all have that book, the best book you’ve never read, right? Maybe it’s The Time Traveler’s Wife or Water for Elephants or East of Eden. For me, it was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve heard about this book for years, I’ve had book snobs and non-book snobs both tell me it’s fabulous. But I always had something else I was more interested in, until this tour came up and I figured this is the perfect time to hunker down and read it.

Outlander is about Claire Randall, a 28-year-old nurse during WWII, who, when the book opens, has just been reunited with her husband, Frank. They had to be apart during the war while Claire nursed soldiers coming in from the battlefields. They’re celebrating a second honeymoon in Scotland, researching more into Frank’s ancestry, and visiting famous sites in Scotland such as Loch Ness. Together they happened upon a circle of stones where they observed some women performing a pagan ceremony. When Claire goes back to these stones to get a plant she saw, she’s transported back 200 years. She’s disoriented and think the battle taking place below is a re-enactment on a movie set. It’s here that she’s found by Captain Jack Randall, one of Frank’s ancestors that they were doing research on, and he’s about to rape her when she’s saved by Jamie Fraser. Jamie and the men he’s riding with take her back to their castle, where her skills as a nurse are put to use.

More story blah blah blah Claire and Jamie end up marrying out of convenience (to both of them), and they spend most of the book trying to get away from or running from or avoiding Captain Jack Randall. Jamie has a long backstory involving Randall that puts Jamie in Randall’s crosshairs.

That blah blah blah? That wasn’t me being lazy, it’s just that there’s SO MUCH STORY that it’s hard to talk about the book without going on and on and on. And you’d think that this would make the story drag, but it’s totally the opposite. Gabaldon has a way of giving you all the details of the surroundings and the characters and the situation, but she’s never repeating herself, I never felt like I wanted to skip pages just to get back to the meat of the story.

I saw Gabaldon last year around this time when the seventh book in this series, An Echo in the Bone, was released. I KNEW I would love her books because she was describing this scene that she wrote. It was in 18th century Scotland in a tavern, and she described how the light shone through the window, and she saw a barmaid push a pint of ale into the hands of a man sitting at one of the tables. She said she didn’t know why this barmaid had to put the glass into the man’s hands. As she’s mulling this over, she happens to be taking her daughter to soccer practice, and it dawns on her that the man in the tavern is blind, which was why the barmaid had to physically put the pint into the man’s hands. This revelation caused her to miss the exit for her daughter’s soccer practice! That’s when I knew I’d love her books. Because she’s not inventing this story so much as peeling back the layers of a story already there. For me, those are the best authors.

The only thing I wasn’t prepared for was Gabaldon’s unflinching willingness to put her characters in situations that broke my heart. Jamie endures this one thing that OH MY GOD seemed worse than death. And Claire! The things she had to do to help Jamie and stay alive. But it doesn’t detract from how BEAUTIFUL the story is.

One thing I loved is the use of dialect. You never forget Claire’s in 18th Scotland. I could hear Jamie’s accent as he affectionately referred to her as ‘mo duinne’. I think I swooned.

I have to temper this love fest by saying that it did take me a little while to get into the story, and I was not too interested in the sex scenes, not because they weren’t hot (they were), but because I wasn’t invested in Claire and Jamie as a couple. By the end, though, I was ready for some romance!

There is so much I’m leaving out. But with a story this epic, there’s no way I could tell you all the wonderful things about it, so if you haven’t read it, please trust me and read it immediately!

I think of Outlander as a classic, and I really can’t rate it. Let’s just say it’d be somewhere in the 90s.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be on this tour!

| Tags: , , 41 comments »

41 Responses to “Book Review – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon”

  1. Carrie K. ()

    I don’t know if you do audio, but if you do, this series is amazingly read by Davina Porter. Loooooong, but the dialect and accents are truly brilliant.

    [Reply]

  2. Cath

    I just finished this one as well, thanks so much for recommending it to me. I took it to the park a couple of times and ran into a multiple strangers telling me how much they loved it and the rest of the series.

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  3. Marg ()

    This is the series that I pimp most to friends, people on trains, whoever!

    So glad you loved it, and now you have the pleasure of reading the follow up books as well. My favourite is the third book, Voyager!

    In my opinion, the later books get a bit long winded, and filled with unnecessary details, but there are still loads of magic moments that mean I won’t be giving up on the books any time soon.

    I am hoping to get the graphic novel The Exile shortly. Now might be a good time for you to have a look if you are interested as it adds some additional information to the events in Outlander as I understand it.

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  4. Veens

    I have wanted to read this book like forever. I know with books like this, it is hard to get into each threads the story unfolds.
    I always thought of it as a chunkster and was scared that I won’t like it. But then I have to take the dive, to know.

    Great review.

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  5. Sandy

    I’ve listened to four of these books on audio, so I totally know the blah blah blah. There is a huge amount of detail. You are living it. And girl, if you are ready for romance, you just keep reading. I had to pull off the road once (I think it was in the third book?) during a sex scene that was ALMOST porn. I think maybe it was porn. Anyway, this is a series that requires serious investment. It is a marathon but worth the effort. Just bring food and water.

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  6. Joanna

    I’m like you – I’ve heard SO MUCH about this book and it sounds perfect for me and yet I haven’t read it yet. Your review makes it sound soooo good though! πŸ™‚

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  7. Mary ()

    I finally got around to reading the first book in Jan. ’10 after seeing the book everywhere for years. For some reason I was never motivated to read it until I found the Outlander challenge in the blogosphere. If they don’t make that challenge open ended I’ll never finish in time but now that I’ve read Outlander, I know I’ll read the entire series. I just want to do it at a drawn-out pace πŸ™‚

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  8. zibilee

    This is one of my favorite books and the rest of the series isn’t too shabby as well! I know that this book is very polarizing, and I am so glad to hear that you loved it so much! Are you planning on going forward with the series? I loved this review! It’s so nice to hear gushing about this book!

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  9. Dana Huff ()

    This is one of my favorites, too. I know what you mean about Gabaldon’s writing. She has actually been influential to me as a writer. Check out her Outlandish Companion, and she talks about her process. Her insights about characters and how they are developed was really helpful to me. Plus the book is just a good encyclopedia for the first four or so books of the series. No joke, I learned a lot about writing from Diana Gabaldon.

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  10. Jendeis

    Delurking to write that I’m so glad that you loved Outlander. I love the whole series, and am so happy when someone else joins the love. πŸ™‚

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  11. Monica ()

    This one has been in my TBR pile for a while. My sister strongly recommended it. Thanks for the review (which I skimmed so I didn’t get spoilers).

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  12. April (Books&Wine) ()

    I’ve been re-reading Outlander over a long time (since winter, I think). It’s really slow going for me, but that’s because I have so many other things to read. I do remember, when I first read Outlander, in high school, I ripped through it, I remember staying up all night to finish it, over the summer.

    And yeah, Jamie, totally hot.

    [Reply]

  13. Bree ()

    I’ve never read these novels either even though they’ve been recommended to me many times by different people! I may have to finally take the plunge and dive into them – it seems like an epic task though. Love your review!

    [Reply]

  14. Staci

    Before you know you will be invested in Jamie and Claire as a couple!!! So glad that you read this one!! πŸ˜€

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  15. nat @book, line, and sinker ()

    the planets must be in alignment or something because this is the THIRD book i’ve seen reviewed tonight that i had my hands on (but didn’t buy!) over the weekend. ant and i were in vermont for the week and i was itching for some new books. this one came highly recommended at the local indie shop, but i snubbed it for something less weighty! ugh. guess i have to pick it up now. πŸ™‚ your review has hooked me. and now there’s a series to this book? 800 pages wasn’t enough to tie up the loose ends??? love it.

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  16. Amused ()

    Oh yeah! I got hooked on this series one summer in college and never looked back! They really do suck you in. Aren’t you glad you finally know what we are all talking about now? πŸ™‚

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  17. Leslie ()

    I keep hearing how wonderful this book is. And I have had a copy of it on my shelf now for years. I suppose it’s time to find out what I’ve been missing because from the reviews and descriptions I know I will just love it.

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  18. Terri

    I’ve been a fan of the Outlander series from the beginning. I randomly picked up the first one and it sounded interesting. The 2nd one was just coming out when I finished it and I now have all of them in hardcover, including the Outlandish Companion. I can’t tell you how many people I know that have become addicted to these books. I reread them just before the next one comes out. Can’t wait.

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  19. Barb ()

    I’ve been reading Diana’s books ever since her 1st book came out! I’m going to say that I’m one of the ones who absolutely love the series, I love the detail that she goes into about each character!!! I bought her latest one, but haven’t had the chance to get started one it—reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series first!
    I’m constantly recommending Diana Gabaldon’s books!

    [Reply]

  20. Lisamm

    You’re awesome, blah blah blah. I’m glad you’re a new fan! Thanks so much for being on the tour. Your review was excellent.

    [Reply]

  21. Melissa Palmer

    I gave up on Outlander the first time I tried it and then last summer I tried again and loved it. Now I understood what people had been telling me for years–I started #2 but am halfway through and it’s not grabbing me like Outlander did–but I’ll keep plugging away!

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  22. Lenore ()

    This is THAT book for me. The one that everyone seems to love that I just hate.

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  23. Sheri

    These are in my top 10….I absolutely loved this book, and i too, had it on my shelf for several years….i own them all now,and can’t wait till the next one comes out…By the way, my husband benefited greatly while i was reading these books…lol…wow…..and uhhhh, Jamie…mmmmm…..

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  24. nicole langan

    thanks! for sharing, must read.

    [Reply]

  25. Amy

    This series is one of my favorites. She gives you so many details but it still never feels like enough.

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  26. Alipet813

    just thought I would let you know that this book is free right now for the kindle. I have always wanted to read it, but never did. Just got it for free on the kindle, so now I will be reading it.

    [Reply]

  27. Lisa

    In all of the ravings about this book, I’m not sure I ever really read what the books was about because I was quite sure I would never read it. Because to read this one is to commit to all of the others. One book this big is one thing but a whole series of books this big? Scares me!

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  28. jennygirl

    I could not agree more! This book is a beautifully wonderful page turning read. LOVE it!

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  29. Vanessa {Book Soulmates} ()

    OMG you have read my mind. This book has been sitting on my shelf since last winter! It’s one of those that I keep meaning to pick up b/c so many I know have read it and loved it but … you know …. there are always so many other books that just get my attention first! Grrr. So many book tours and reviews…. anyhoo… Thank you soooooo much for writing this review. I will be bumping it up on my TBR list!

    Btw, how long did it take you to read it? It seems like a long one. {Which for me right now is pretty intimidating considering the fact that there are so many books I need to read right now. lol.}

    Thanks!
    Vanessa πŸ˜€

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  30. Vanessa {Book Soulmates} ()

    Holy cow! Thanks for being honest πŸ™‚ My reading time is severely slow as well. Work and school are killing me! I still want to start reading it though. I swear, I feel like you wrote your review just for me. Lol.

    *Vanessa*

    [Reply]

  31. Krysten ()

    I keep telling myself I need to read this series but, like you, I keep finding other things I want to be reading. After reading your review though I’m thinking I really need to make time for this. So thanks!

    [Reply]

  32. Sheila DeChantal ()

    I have heard so many great things about this book and like you, I just have not made it a priority read. Now I am wondering where to fit it in…:)

    [Reply]

  33. Melissa- Shhh I'm Reading ()

    This the THE book I always try to get people to read, and I always smile when someone enjoys it! And, I had to laugh, because I still haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife or Water for Elephants…

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  34. Carey ()

    So glad you loved this, Trish! It has been on the top of my favorites list for many, many years. I have recommended it to everyone that has ever asked me what they should read. Lucky you to have all the other great books in this series ahead of you. I’m trying to find time to work them in as re-reads.

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  35. Alyce ()

    I loved this book too! I discovered it in my pre-blogging years when I did a search on Amazon’s listmania for time travel books. I read Outlander and was hooked on the series (although the first and second books are my favorites). When hard pressed I would have to say that I like the second book even better than the first, but of course you couldn’t read them out of order. πŸ™‚

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  36. Jessica ()

    Ahh. Several people have been telling me to read this series for years, but I’ve had a hard time committing to that many pages. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll commit in 2011.

    [Reply]

  37. Jen

    So I just read Outlander for the first time and I agree with you a ton. I really really liked it. It was a page turner. It’s not my favourite book in the world (but I don’t have a favourite book) but I liked it. It was interesting and fun and campy and even kind of amazing.

    But I’m not sure I want to read the other Outlander books… I’m sort of worried they’ll ruin it for me. Anyone? Should I venture on?

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  38. Marci

    Read on, Jen, you won’t be disappointed. I’ve read the series twice (never read any book more than once). Each time I find details I missed the first time so I’ve started over again. I find the subsequent books complement the first and only strengthens the personality traits Diana has given the original characters. I’m so looking forward to the next book!

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  39. Beth F ()

    I just got the graphic novel. I am all caught up in the series and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for more!

    [Reply]

  40. Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon | Good Books And Good Wine

    […] About {N} Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin’ You’ve GOTTA Read This A Literary […]

  41. entropic

    I really enjoyed your review.
    I’m just getting to be interested in this series, even though I am usually not into this historical – romance – time travel – perfect hero – thingie. The first of the series was just published in Hungary (where I live), and everyone seems to be raving about it right now. Now, this usually puts me on my guard, so I thought I would check the English-language blogs as well to get the greater picture about this novel – and I find that almost all the reviews are positive in the English-language blogosphere as well.
    But what really convinced me was what you mentioned in your review, that this novel was recommended to you by book snobs and non-book snobs as well. Well, I am a bit of a book snob, but now I feel safe to read
    Outlander. πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

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