Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life
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 Jamie 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.*
*Courtesy of book’s back cover.
From the description provided, you might expect this book to be in the Romance section, with a cover featuring Jamie Fraser clad only in his kilt, flaming hair flying back from his face, arms wrapped around a Claire Randall quite in the state of déshabillé, now wouldn’t you? I do promise, however, that this is not the case. Though it has elements of romance, as well as fantasy, Gabaldon has penned an authentic, well-researched series that can be placed solidly in the realms of historical fiction, especially the later books (don’t believe me? – just take a look at her LibraryThing page). Outlander provides unique insight into the beliefs and practices of ordinary Scottish Highlanders in the eighteenth century, as well as the common medical practices during this time period, as Claire puts her nursing skills to good use during her travel back in time.
The thing I find most intriguing about Outlander is the contrast between Jamie, who is the quintessential eighteenth century Highlander, and Claire, who is a thoroughly modern woman, and how they reconcile their differences. Another concept I found fascinating was Claire’s struggle with whether a time-traveler has the power to change the course of history through their presence and their actions, and if so, are they under obligation to do so. It certainly made me wonder what I would do if I were in her situation.
While the plot is certainly action-packed and fast-paced, the biggest draw to Outlander and the series as a whole is the characters. As I’ve said in my other Outlander series reviews, Jamie and Claire and Co. feel like old friends, so while I may scold them as I read for doing stupid things and making poor choices, I’ll keep on loving them. These books are my comfort reads – they’re like the mashed potatoes and chicken soup of the literary world, so far as I’m concerned.
A word of caution, though. Readers Advisor Online has Outlander listed as both Adult and Teen fiction, their reasoning being that many teens have read and enjoyed these books. These are, however, adult books. Though none of the scenes are especially explicit, Jamie and Claire are newlyweds fairly early on in the book and, to put it quite frankly, they do boink like bunnies. This is toned down as the series progresses, but readers should be aware of this element’s inclusion.
Dragonfly in Amber
Drums in Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
100+ Reading Challenge
Outlander Reading Challenge