Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

downloadOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

Release Date: January 1, 1991
Publisher: Bantam Dell (Random House)
Pages: 850
Price: $9.99

“But just then, for that fraction of time, it seems as though all things are possible. You can look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could undertake any venture, complete it and come back to yourself, to find the world unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before. And it’s as though knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary.”

Many of us believe in doorways to other worlds, perhaps we believe in magic and superstition. Everything happens for a reason, or so we sometimes like to tell ourselves when things occur in certain ways. We never know for certain the journeys we have in life and the bumps or kinks in the road ahead. Everything in life is so uncertain. But what if you were to live two lives? Which pathway would you choose and what regrets would you simply have to release?

1945: The war has just ended, leaving many families torn apart and couples separated by more than miles. Claire Randall and her husband Frank journey to Scotland for a second honeymoon after having spent six years apart; Claire on the frontlines as a combat nurse while Frank tended to classified matters of the British government. The charm of the Scottish countryside dazzles them as they explore the mysteries and enchantments of the rolling hills. Picking Scotland as their destination wasn’t just happenstance, Frank wanted to trace his family lineage and discover more about his ancestors. With little to do, Claire finds herself tagging along with Frank, learning his family history along with him. With everything going seemingly well, the couple reconnects—until Claire walks through the ancient standing stones of Craigh na Dun waking up in a time that is not her own.

1743: Scotland and England are at war. The Scottish highlands have become a dangerous place for those who are against the English, even more dangerous for an outsider, a Sassenach. In a time of clans and lairds, spies are a threat, and when Claire lands herself among the Scottish people she is lost and confused. She knows she came through the ancient stones, but how? Quickly racking her mind for old customs, Claire portrays herself as a young widow who was traveling towards France when she was ambushed my English soldiers. Even with a slightly believable story, Claire’s background is suspect, leaving her an outsider; a Sassenach as the Scottish call it, in a world where anything but clan is dangerous. But in this strange land, Claire finds Jamie Fraser, a strong handsome lad who gathers her friendship before acquiring her heart. Claire becomes torn between faithfulness and yearning, and between two men who hold her heart in different ways and different centuries.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Outlander. I started watching the series on Starz and told myself that I should really read the book (as is my usual rule for anything bookish to be made for the big screen). So I skipped a couple episodes to get myself ahead of the storyline and low and behold, I finished well ahead of the episode line ups. I really enjoyed Claire as a character, here she was this modern woman (for the time) and she didn’t take crap from anyone. While I deeply appreciated that aspect of her, there were times where I wanted to tell her to tone it down. The time period she was in didn’t lend itself to any sort of women’s rights and so her behavior didn’t always look favorably on her situation. Despite this, she had spirit and I think that was the main thing we were supposed to get from her feistiness and stubbornness. Then we have Jamie Fraser—the man who made me weak at the knees and sent audible sighs through the candle lit room in which I read. I adored him from the very beginning. He was sweet and slightly shy, yet strong and reliable. He took Claire under his wing and tended to her like a proper friend. As their relationship grows, we learn more about Jamie and his past. He hasn’t been given the best deal in life, but Claire shines some happiness amidst his darker clouds. Towards the end of the book the story gets very dark. *TRIGGER WARNING* (I won’t go into detail but if you are an avid reader or up to date on rape culture, trigger warning is for those who have been the victim of any kind of abuse and this warning allows them to steer clear of literature containing anything that might evoke memories of their past.) It is at this point that the author truly goes dark and enters a realm of the story that I hadn’t seen coming. I became visibly upset at what the characters had to endure, and it was extremely difficult to read. At first I was unsure about continuing on with the series, there are 8 books all together and it is a relatively large commitment, but the way the book ended basically lent itself to me needing to continue on with the story. I didn’t come across anything that I hated about the book. I guess the only thing that could be negative was that it seemed as though it could have ended earlier without the darkness and it still would have been a great book. The world itself was great and it was such a unique idea that everything was intriguing. It wasn’t just a romance story; it had politics, rebellion, death, magic, and so many other things. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure many more readers will.

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