Friday, April 22, 2011

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

by Diana Gabaldon

Like Oh-So-Many books this is one I have had in my possession for a couple of years and just recently brought out to read, encouraged by many friends who are big fans of this series. Working at Barnes & Noble I had shelved this and the others in the series often and took customers to the shelf where they waited for adoption often. Based on the amount of traffic to that particular spot, I finally decided it was a series I needed to give a try. So I bought book one and promptly put it away.

If you've ever seen these books you would understand how daunting they appear. 600+ pages of one story takes a bit of contemplation before tackling. I had contemplated long enough.

This story starts just after WWII in Scotland with Claire and her husband, Frank. They are an English couple that have been separated during the war and are now on a second honeymoon in Scotland. One day, while exploring a stone henge type monument on her own, Claire steps through time back to 1743 Scotland and immediately finds herself in dangerous times among people who distrust her, not knowing where she came from or why she is there. She finally comes to realize that she is no longer in 1945, but 200 years in the past.

Carried off to Castle Leoch of the clan McKenzie she is constantly alert for any opportunity to find her way back to the stones she believes will transport her back to 1945. All the while she is trying to fit in and be accepted by this clan and be as unobtrusive as possible. Her career as a combat nurse in WWII gives her skills and knowledge valuable to her present situation and aids in her acceptance by the clan.

Jamie Fraser is the young warrior and wanted fugitive that rescued Claire from the English when she first arrived in 1743 and carried her off to Castle Leoch. A mutual respect and attraction develops as Claire cares for his recently wounded shoulder and nurses him back to health. Eventually, Jamie & Claire must marry for "political" reasons and to ensure her safety from the English by showing her allegiance to the Scots.

Gabaldon creates a story of historical fiction taking the reader into the Scottish Highlands among the lairds who rule the land and the tenants on those lands. We are invited to live in a hard and often brutal world where Jamie is on guard against being recognized and captured by the English Watch and Claire is seeking a way back to her world in 1945. The twists and turns of the story kept me on my toes with surprises and often painful events. Jamie and Claire are well developed and very real. They fight, argue, make up and care for each other in an honest way and we get to know them intimately as they share their own experiences with each other.

Although time travel is important to the story, it's not hugely prevalent in the story beyond the initial travel to the past. Where it does resurface leaves me with questions and causes me to consider what time travel would mean or involve, as it's not well defined in nature within the parameters of this book. I had to question what affect Claire might have on her 1945 life as a result of her actions in 1743. Or does Claire's presence in 1743 have no real impact because maybe she had already impacted the future that she lives in by already having traveled back in time? So many questions. I look forward to the next book as perhaps it may have some answers.

I give this book 5 shots!


  1. This is one of my all-time favorite books (and series) so I am glad that you enjoyed it. The story gets more involved as the series progresses and some of your questions about the effects of time travel are answered. Get her "Outlandish Companion" if you want to know more. Please blog when you read each successive book...I want to hear your opinions!

  2. I am simply amazed at how many people rave over this series. I can't believe it took me so long to start it! Nice to be a part of a crowd that doesn't think Twilight and Stephenie Myers are the end all be all of *good* (and I use that term very very loosely in her case) fiction.