Greetings, all. I apologize for the delay in posting. Life has been hectic, and the latest read I took on was a bit daunting. I finally wrapped up with the novel on Friday and I’m just now getting time to tell you all what my thoughts are about the book. What am I talking about, exactly? It’s the first of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, entitled, of course, Outlander. Here goes.
Oh Sassenach… Mo duinne. The things Jamie Fraser is capable of making a girl feel just know no bounds. I was tingly from head-to-toe during every encounter I had with that lovely clansman. Let me explain my journey start-to-finish.
I was hesitant to begin this series, I must admit. I had heard wonderful things about the show, but since I don’t get Starz (mostly due to being frugal with my cable company) I hadn’t watched it yet. However, I didn’t want to go the way of Game of Thrones and go into the show completely blind as to the premise and details of the story. In reading reviews on goodreads, I was wary because people seemed to either love it or loathe it. The overall reviewer rating was decent, but regardless, I decided to just risk it and decide for myself. I also had to choose to make the commitment to an extensive number of books and sticking it out with these characters for a significant period of time. It was clearly time and I was glad with my final decision.
To begin, I’m sure you’re going to ask, “What is Outlander about?”, so let me give you the run down if you don’t know already.
We meet British army combat nurse, Claire Randall travelling through Inverness with her husband, Frank during the Pagan holiday of Samhain. World War II has just ended and the couple has taken a second honeymoon to rekindle their marriage due to the separation the war caused for them. Frank decides to spend time researching his ancestry while Claire discovers herbology. Their interests lead them to discussions which allow them to bond in new ways.
On a solo outing one afternoon in the Highlands, Claire finds herself at Craigh Na Dun, a circle of mysterious standing stones that she finds intriguing. As she wanders among the boulders collecting her flowers and herbs, something strange happens. She makes the mistake of touching one of the stones before everything changes.
When Claire takes a look around, she notices how different her surroundings are from earlier. It’s not until she comes across a redcoat officer that she realizes something is extremely wrong. To sum up a long story, she has somehow fallen through time and is now in 1743. Not only is she in the wrong time, she’s in the middle of a dangerous portion of history. The British and Scottish are at each other’s throats and just a short time away from the Battle of Culloden.
Finding herself among the Mackenzie clan of Castle Leoch, Claire can do nothing but adapt, and quickly. The Scots keep her and are wary that she is a British spy, and the British are after her because of her ties to the Scots. The only way for her to stay safe and protected, is to be married. Considering Frank is in a different century, this poses a problem. Unsure of what to do, Claire seeks refuge in the young clansman who befriended her right from the start, one James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. He serves for his uncle’s clan while keeping a low profile from the law since he has a price on his head for his past.
Their nuptials may have been arranged, but the pair becomes a force to be reckoned with! The journey that Jamie and Claire go on together is something very special (which Gabaldon proves to us through all eight, soon to be nine, books).
The lore, mystery, and romance of the highlands of Scotland, men in kilts, the swoony Gaelic words that come out of Jamie Fraser’s mouth… I could go on for days probably, but I just don’t know how anyone could NOT adore this series. If it’s because of the love scenes, then I guess romance novels are not your cup of tea, because these scenes were tender, tame, and practically poetic compared to other novels I’ve read in the past. This book really did have everything; history, love, battles, physical and emotional conflict, the myths and folklore that Scotland is known for (there’s even a reference to the Loch Ness monster), World War II, etc. If you’re not a fan of the love scenes, there’s plenty of other subjects to keep you occupied for 600+ pages.
My only hang up, and it is minor, was Claire and her lack of appreciation for everything Jamie tried to do for her from the moment they met. I know it made sense to her character and to the story in order to show her inner struggle, but it upset me. I’m sure that’s the goal, so that I could struggle just as much as she did with the choices she had to make. She’s a combat nurse after the second World War, and she’s happily married (even on a second honeymoon with her husband, Frank), but she stumbled through a crack in the stone circle, Craig Na Dun, and found Jamie. Their circumstances caused them to marry, and she’s less thrilled than he is about their fate. Unlike her, he’s patient and lovely in order to make sure she’s as comfortable as possible in their arrangement. I don’t think she is quite deserving of his heart and attentions. It’s a very real tug-of-war, and like I said, I understand why she acts the way she does, but it just made my heart ache. I knew she belonged with Jamie despite still technically being married to Frank.
As stated earlier, these books are a LOT to take on, but I promise you, they’re worth it! If I could recommend any series as a MUST-READ, it would be these. Gabaldon has done her (thorough) research and it shows. The stories are fantastic and I can’t say enough to praise them properly!