Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Book Review

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

Published: (MTI) 1 July 2014 - Bantam 

Format - Source: eBook - iBooks

Genre: Historical Fiction - Romance

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 border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire . . . and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Outlander is a journey. Not just a journey for Claire, Jamie, Dougal, and the Mackenzies, but it is a journey for the reader as well. Claire was a war nurse during the second world war, away from her husband for six years out in the field. After the war ends, Claire and her husband Frank decide to take a "second honeymoon" in order to reconnect. They stay in the Scottish highlands, Frank learning and sharing with Claire his ancestry as well as the town's ancestry. There's talk of clans and British attacks, but when Claire touches the split stone at Craigh na Dun, the talk of Scottish clans and British attacks very much becomes Claire's reality.

The highlights of this book are three very distinct things: the writing style, the characters, and the romance.

First, the writing style. Diana's way of writing makes me feel immersed in the 1743 Scottish highlands. Each character has their own distinct voice. She has her Scots speak in the Scottish dialect, that albeit sometimes is hard to understand but I can hear the characters talking and arguing in my head. So often when characters speak in dialect, in my head I'm constantly correcting every sentence. But with the way that Diana writes the contrast between Claire and the Scots, it's easy and enjoyable to follow.

As previously mentioned, all of the characters have their own distinct voice, and in addition to that, they all have their own personality. On my two hands, I couldn't count the amount of important (main and secondary) characters there are in this book because I'd run out of fingers. In a book over 600 pages, we're bound to have handfuls of characters important to the main plot and even more tertiary characters that may only come across the story twice. For all of these characters to have their own voice and mannerisms and personalities is an incredible feat that Gabaldon accomplishes in her masterpiece. She builds all of these very important characters that throughout the entire 600 pages stay true to the person she originally created them to be. Albeit, there is a lot of character development among a majority (if not all) of the characters, but even after developing, they are not an entirely new person.

Saying that, the romance in this book is one I doubt that I will ever forget. It's no secret that Jaime and Claire are in a relationship throughout this book (it says it in the synopsis for Christ's sake), and it's not the instant romance that we see all too often. Remember: Claire is married to Frank Randall in 1945. She was faithful to her husband all throughout her six years as a combat nurse, and she planned to keep the vows she made to Frank until the death separated them. If she didn't give into the dashing English soldiers in 1945, she's certainly not going to give into the dashing young Scot Jamie Fraser in 1743. Well, for the beginning of the book. There's one scene in the book (about halfway through) between Jaime and Claire. I personally see it as okay because that's what happened in the 1700s, and it would be untrue and unjust to have that scene not happen.

One negative thing I have to say about the book is that the first 150-200 pages are dry. There's not a lot of action, but there is a lot of building. Constantly throughout the book, Diana is building the Scottish highlands for her readers, and the bulk of that building rests in the first 150 pages, but after that the book picks up immensely.

My advice for anyone struggling through the first part of the book: watch some of the TV show and then read until it gets dull again, and go back to watch more of the show. The show on Starz is a very faithful adaptation of the book, and I know that it helped me along significantly.

Content: R
Language: Mild - Consistent
Sex: Yes; Graphic
Violence: Mild

Yes! I have bought Dragonfly in Amber already, and I am anxiously awaiting the end of Droughtlander.

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