Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
How do you describe a book like Outlander? Drama, fantastical adventure, magical realism, historical fiction, love story? It is all of these things, but above all, a heart-throbbing, maudlin, intensely passionate, soulful, beautiful love story. Everyone should consider themselves very fortunate to come somewhere close to the kind of love Gabaidon describes of her heroine and hero – Claire Beauchamp and Jamie Fraser.
When Claire and her history professor husband Frank Randall are on a vacation in Scotland, Claire roams off alone one day sightseeing to a historical monument called Craigh na Dun. She accidentally presses herself against a monumental boulder and finds herself physically transported back 200 years in time and this is where the story begins.
Arousing the reader with a somewhat skeptical “I’ll give it a try” attitude, Outlander begins at a slow pace, lays the groundwork, and before you know what happened – you are hooked! It’s a page turner alright! As far fetched as the notion is of magical time-travel, Gabaldon makes it believable with her vividly colorful descriptions of Scottish countryside, primitive 18th century living conditions, historical details, mythology, and just the right amount of humor.
Rape, murder, torture, thievery, kidnapping, superstition and betrayal juxtaposed against herbal healing, religious faith, kindness and loyalty, sacrifice and love. I don’t know if Scotland had swashbucklers or if there was ever a female amongst those so titled, but the heroine of this series surely qualifies. And the best part of all is that it is merely book one of a series. When you close the book on that last page it is not farewell to Claire and Jamie – you can move right on to Book 2 – Dragonfly in Amber.
However, be for-warned – contrary to my opinion, not everyone will love the series. Outlander has received some less than stellar reviews. It’s been criticized for various offenses: too violent, too much sex, too much violent sex, too fantastical, too boring, too preposterous, too degrading to women, too misrepresentative of Scottish history, and not enough focus on history…. so read at your own risk.
In the 20th Anniversary Edition Hardcover of Outlander Diana Gabaldon modestly writes in the introduction that when this book – her very first attempt at a novel – was first published in 1991, her editor said “This has to be a word-of-mouth book, because it’s too weird to describe to anyone.” and she addresses the reader, “This is true. That being so, I offer my undying gratitude to all the people who took a chance on it and then spread the word.” I am happily spreading the word. Just this afternoon I sat outside in the hot and humid sun to finish the last few chapters. The pages are now literally smeared with sweat…. and tears… tears were just dripping off my face onto those final pages.
I loved the book. Thank you Marie for turning me on to the series.
Rated 5 Stars August 2016
All contents © 2016 Lois Weisberg. All rights reserved