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!