16 September, 2014

Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


In 1946, after WWII, a young Englishwoman named Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank. She’s an ex-combat nurse, he’s been in the army as well, they’ve been separated for the last six years, and this is a second honeymoon; they’re getting re-acquainted with each other, thinking of starting a family. But one day Claire goes out walking by herself, and comes across a circle of standing stones—such circles are in fact common all over northern Britain.  She walks through a cleft stone in the circle….and disappears. Back into 1743, where the first person she meets is a gentleman in an 18th-century army officer’s uniform. This gentleman, Jack Randall, looks just like her husband Frank—and proves to be Frank’s six-times-great-grandfather. 

Unfortunately, he also proves to be a sadistic bisexual pervert, and while trying to escape from him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Highland Scots, who are also trying to get away from Black Jack Randall—though for other reasons. In order to avoid being handed over to Captain Randall, Claire is obliged to marry one of the young clansmen. So she finds herself trying to escape from Castle Leoch and her Scottish captors, trying to get back to her husband Frank, trying to avoid being recaptured by Captain Randall—and falling in love with Jamie Fraser, the young man she’s been forced to marry. The story rolls on from there… (from Diana Gabaldon's website)


Series: Outlander #1
Release Date: 1 January, 1991 (original print)
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
GenreLiterature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical NON-fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Military History, Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and Horror.
ISBN:  9780440212560
Edition: Paperback
Review Written: 15 September, 2014

Outlander, in size, is rather daunting. Comparable A Game of Thrones from the highly popular A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin in both size and entertainment value, one shouldn't be daunted at the particular challenges that come with reading large novels.

Claire Randall has spent the past few years of her life working as a nurse in World War II, not an easy job at all. She's been at the front lines of action trying to save soldiers while her husband remained behind, assigned to a highly secret intelligence unit. However, the war is over and life starting to take hold again, Claire and her husband Frank head off to the Scottish Highlands for a second honeymoon. Sinking into their own respective hobbies (Claire with botany and Frank with his Family history), the pair feels like nothing can go wrong. After observing a ritual of local druids during Beltane, Claire decides to return to the hill of standing stones to collect a few botany samples of plants she can't identify. 

Sadly, things don't seem to go as planned, and she finds herself drawn to the center-most stone; a move which sends her 200 years into the past in Scotland. Claire must learn to survive once she's taken by Scottish soldiers trying to avoid one of her husband's relatives. Her world thrown out of balance, Claire is faced with seemingly impossible challenges of reaching the rocks to make her way home. The problem is, she's been married to a young man in this time as well, and will she be strong enough to leave him when the time comes.

While the novel's been around for over two decades now, it's a new treasure to me, one that will join my shelf of other favorite books easily. Gabaldon's writing is captivating and deep, drawing a reader without speeding along the process. Granted, she's noted on many occasions that she simply wrote Outlander to see if she could, never really expecting to have it read by anyone. The novel covers multiple genres, expanding itself into seven books (so far) afterwards, one companion volume, and its own spin off series. 

I'm curious to see what others think of this fantastic literary gem. What are your thoughts on the novel Outlander? Leave a comment below on your thoughts.

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