“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander (#1) by Diana Gabaldon

Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Paperback, 850 pages
Published July 26th 2005 by Dell (first published 1991)

It’s 1945. Claire Randall and her husband are reuniting after years apart during the Second World War. To rekindle their romance and to get to know each other once again, they return to Scotland for a second honeymoon. While exploring the moors of Inverness for plants and herbs, Claire comes across a circle of standing stones she previously visited with her husband. She lays a hand on one of the stones, and her world changes forever.

At first, everything seems much the same. Forest, moor, standing stones. However, shouts and flashes of red coats startle Claire out of her revery. Either some particularly energetic war re-enactors suddenly making use of the area, or something is seriously amiss. It soon becomes clear that it is the latter. Claire is thrust into life in war-torn Scotland… in the year 1743.

It is immediately clear that Claire’s position in a precarious one. She is now a “Sassenach,” or “outlander,” in a country far from peace. Her life becomes riddled with danger, intrigue, politics and desire. Not only is her safety at risk, but so is her marriage—and her heart. For it is here that Jamie Fraser enters her life, threatening to change everything she thought she knew about herself, her life, and her marriage. How can she love two men so different from two times so far apart? Fidelity changes from a question that once was straightforward, to one that is more convoluted that she cares to imagine. Can she be both Claire Randall the combat nurse, and Claire Fraser the Sassenach and healer? If not, how can she choose?

I first heard about this book when I worked at a small book store. It was the middle-aged and elderly women that would gush over Jamie Fraser and excitedly recommend the series. However, this more or less gave me no desire to read the books at all. To me, they made it sound like a ridiculous time-travelling romance, that basically just an excuse to read about sex with dreamy men in convenient kilts. It was one day when I was alone at good old Value Village that I picked up a worn copy of Outlander. I read the back and, intrigued, thought, what the heck? It sounds kind of okay—I’ll give it a try. Boy am I glad that I did! When I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. The rich history, the beautifully articulated descriptions, and the vivid characters made this book at once wholly encapsulating. Once I entered Claire’s world, I didn’t want to leave it. Although there was more sex in this book than I may have liked, the story was definitely more than a vehicle for Scottish fantasies. It was a beautiful and well written work of fiction. I highly recommend it. However, there are graphic scenes of a sexual nature. I just skipped over these. But, if you don’t like that sort of thing and can’t just skip past it, I’d give this book a pass.