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Monday 26 January 2015

Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Page Count:  850 pages, Mass Market Paperback
Date Published: First published 1991
Find it on Goodreads: Outlander
Source: Was given as a gift

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just 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 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. 

Whatever is was that I was expecting, it wasn't that. This was recommended and gifted to me by an exchange student that my family hosted from Germany a few years ago. She was a huge fan of epic fantasy, so when I picked this up, that's what I was most expecting.... Boy was I surprised.

*possible minor spoilers ahead if you haven't read this?*

Epic fantasy, this was not. I knew Outlander was a time travel novel, yet I didn't really realize that was only a simple part of the plot, that the story was more about the history of Scotland and the romance between Claire and Jamie. Then, as I was getting used to the historical overload, Jamie and Claire have their wedding night.

Now, I  know this is probably tame compared to other books people read, but having not expected any sort of explicitness, I was reading this in my French class and well, my cheeks went a little red.

Speaking of their marriage, I'm unclear on my opinion of whether or not Claire was committing adultery by marrying Jamie while being in a different time than her husband, Frank. Plus, the brutality of her punishment from Jamie made me sick to my stomach. I understand that it was part of the times, however it still made me uncomfortable, as well as the talk of him possibly forcing himself upon her.... it all just made me a bit squeamish, considering those actions are now rightly considered unacceptable.

What I did appreciate was the vivid historical detail and how much obvious research Gabaldon did for this novel. It made the story feel all the more real while in a setting so foreign to me. There were times where it felt almost as if there was too much detail, too much information, and the plot was overloaded with descriptors. The first 100 pages were honestly really dull, and I skimmed through much of it, hardly paying attention. The middle felt mostly like world building and a bit of plot, but kind of jumped around. Then the third quarter was filled with action, albeit was a bit odd, but I was hooked. Then the last quarter dragged on for a while longer, ending in a scene that I was glad I wasn't near anyone for, because my cheeks were redder than a tomato.

I don't know if I will be reading the rest of this series, but this was surely an enjoyable book, if not a bit dragged out. This is purely escape fiction, which is not what I was expecting, but once I got into it, I didn't really mind. It was a nice break for my tired brain.

 Happy reading!


  1. I know this is seriously, hugely popular. I know it is, so this might make some people mad. I'm sorry :(. But, I just don't have any interest in this. None at all. Is that terrible of me? I have read the great reviews, and seen the epic fandom. I am still meh about it. I am glad that you took a chance and enjoyed it, though!

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