Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander is a book that has a little something for everyone. Time travel, brutality and war, history, witchcraft, romance, and fidelity. Diana Gabaldon has somehow tied together historical occurrences with time travel and intimate romance in a way that the reader feels as though they are a part of Claire, Frank, and Jamie’s daily routine.

This was my first time reading an Outlander book, and, at first, I was a little intimidated by the length of the book. I thought that the 850 pages was going to take me a long time to get through, but I was wrong. The book reads very quickly. There is not a lot of down time to get bored with. Gabaldon’s writing captures everyday details, like emotions, chores, and scenery, that pulls the reader right into the story and takes them along for the whirlwind of a ride in 1945 Scotland to 1743.

Claire Beauchamp Randal is reuniting with her husband, Frank Randal, in Scotland after both served in the military during the war. Frank is an avid fan of family history and is researching his family tree while Claire is gathering and learning about plants and their medicinal uses. On one of her searches, Claire touches a stone in an ancient stone circle and she is hurdled back through time, to 1743 war-torn Scotland. She finds herself directly in the path of Englishman Black Jack Randall, one of Frank’s ancestors, and a raiding clan called the Mackenzies. During her first moments with the Mackenzie’s, her medical training from the war as a combat nurse allows her to set Jamie Fraser’s dislocated shoulder and tend to his other injuries, making her valuable to the clansmen.

In Claire’s first 24-hours in 1743, she escapes rape, encounters the Mackenzie clan, uses her skills as a nurse, is brought to the Castle Leoch to meet the Mackenzie clan chief, Colum, and grapples with the fact that time travel does exist. Colum and his brother, Dougal, struggle with Claire’s story on how she just appeared in Scotland, with her English accent and unique clothing. She must be an English spy, right? Colum secretly decides to send her back to the English, to Jack Randall who attempted to rape her when she first arrived in 1743.

20170823_104100Poor Claire; all she wants to do is to get back to the stone circle to touch the time traveling stone again so that she can return to 1945, and to Frank. However, now she finds herself in a position where she either has to face Jack Randall again or marry someone in the Mackenzie clan in order to gain their safety. One of the only available Mackenzie’s is Jamie Fraser. This is the first moral dilemma that Claire faces; does marrying 1743 Jamie affect her fidelity and loyalty to her 1945 husband Frank?

And so it happens, Jamie and Claire are quickly married. Surprisingly an intense and intimate bond grows between Jamie and Claire as they learn more about each other. Claire struggles with life in 1743 Scotland and her new role as a wife. More than once her desire to get to the stone circle again puts Jamie, the clan, and herself in dangerous situations. Jamie has to risk his own life, as well as the clansmen, on more than one occasion to protect Claire, but in the end of this novel it is Claire who really puts it all on the line to rescue her Jamie.

Gabaldon takes the reader on an intense and emotional journey as they follow Claire and Jamie through Castle Leoch, Lallybroch, Wentworth, and the Abbey. Life-altering decisions are made that could change the course of history itself. Enter Claire’s second moral dilemma – Does she use the knowledge that she has from 1945, such as medicinal practices, impending battles, even dates of death of people?

This was my first encounter with anything Outlander. I have not seen the TV show nor have I read any of the books before. I didn’t even know it was a series until I opened the cover of this book and saw a list of the other books in the series. I want to say, Who knew?, but I’m sure almost everyone else knew!

Anyway, I have nothing bad to say about this novel! And cannot wait until I can get my hands on the next book to see what happens next with Claire and Jamie, and Frank. Like I said earlier, I thought the length of the novel was going to be a problem, but it was so addictive that I found it hard to put down. Gabaldon was excellent in setting her scenes and landscape; she mastered real life emotion and captures day-to-day details. Flawless editing and fast-paced sentences make the reader breeze through over 800 pages of time-travel and romance and battle and adventure.

This book, and I’m sure the rest of the series, is a must-read and can satisfy almost any reader’s preferences!

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