The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life…and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
What I loved:
– Claire is a strong and smart woman, but also kind and passionate. I wouldn’t say that she adapted “well” to being transported 200 years prior her own time, but she definitely had enough wits about her to observe and try to blend in. She is a determined and independent woman that I think is a good role model regarding the way she deals with hardship and what we could call the “barbaric” practices and traditions she faced on several occasions.
– All the characters are well fleshed out and have a lot of back-story to help us understand their motives. Indeed, none of Gabaldon’s characters are totally black or white. They are a good representation of real human beings, with good and bad sides to them, as we all know that even the heroes have a dark side and every vilain has a soft spot. You even come to appreciate the less charismatic of them.
– There is a lot of material in there that can be controversial or shocking (beating your wife because she disobeyed you, rape – on women AND men), detailed mutilation…) but there are always reminders of the time period and the setting around these scenes to help you if not accept them, comprehend them better.
– The author being the scholar that she is (I think she got even further than PhD in her field), I didn’t expect anything less than a thorough research and a lot of accurate facts thrown in there, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was very interesting to learn about some of the historical events that took place in that period and get the Highlands point of view along with the Scottish backdrop.
My only critique would be that I sometimes felt as though some scenes of a lesser importance were unnecessary lengthy and weighted the story down. The book being the size that it is, the read is daunting enough with the interesting parts without having to go through pages upon pages of yawn-worthy descriptions. BUT the series is up to 8 books now, so maybe what I thought wasn’t very relevant is going to matter at some point, who knows.
I also want to mention that this book was published in the 1990’s so I’m very late to the party, but I was never particularly attracted to it as I saw my mother reading them while I was quite young and I always categorized her taste in literature as outdated and boring. This book isn’t action and adventure from start to finish, but it is definitely not boring.
Here is a little segment on the new TV series, part trailer, part commentary by the actors. (I’ve watched the first 4 episodes, it’s very well made and surely as captivating as the books.)
Happy Reading 🙂