Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Published by: Random House Publishing
Published on: June 1, 1991
Page Count: 896
Genre: Historical Fiction / Time Travel / Romance
My Reading Format: A combination of audiobook, which I purchased using an Audible.com credit and paperback, which was sent to me by a friend
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audiobook, eBook
FYI: Outlander contains some graphic sex and violence
Ever since I’ve become aware of the greater book blogoverse, I’ve seen people gush about Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series. Clearly I wasn’t paying very close attention to what was being said, because I put those novels in the same category as the Clan of the Cavebear. I thought it was set in a medieval time period and I just was not interested. In 2008 or 9, I signed up for an Outlander challenge, determined to find out what this was all about. I used one of my Audible.com credits for Outlander and was so daunted by the length of the book that I didn’t go any further. I actually forgot all about purchasing it. When my great blogging friend Elle, who has been with me from nearly the beginning, offered to send me a copy of Outlander. She loves the series moer than anyone else that I know. Even though I was almost positive that it wasn’t going to work for me, I couldn’t turn her down. After all, she’s read some of the most horrible novels with me as part of my attempts at hosting book clubs online. When I finally sat down with the paperback, I remembered the audio version that I’d never even downloaded. I loaded up my MP3 player and the rest is history.
Outlander tells the story of Claire Randall, relatively newly married woman in her mid 20s. Both she and her husband Frank have spent most of their marriage apart. He was fighting in WWII for the British and she was serving as an army nurse. They are just finding themselves when Frank, a college history professor focused on the Jacobites of Scotland, travel to the Highlands of Scotland to learn more about the the clans who were emaciated by the British in the uprising of 1745. Claire is supportive of her husband, but she isn’t nearly as interested in his historical hunt until she learns more about some nearby standing stones, not far from where they are staying. While Frank continues to work on the Jacobites and his Jack Randall, his grandfather many generations removed, Claire sets out to discover the lure of the rocks on Belldane. What happens when she touches the rocks alters her destiny in ways she could never imagine.
Claire comes out on the other side of the rocks in another world in the midst of a small skirmish between Scottish Highlanders and Jack Randall himself. It took some time before Claire came to terms with the fact that she was now centuries in the past. Jack Randall was also not the calibre of man Frank would have appreciated. Claire would have discovered this fully if she hadn’t been rescued/captured by the band of Scottsman. As the Scottsmen led by Dougal MacKenzie led her back to Castle Leoch, Claire began to plot her return to Frank. She had to find a way to get back to the standing stones. Destiny and Clan McKenzie had very different ideas. Before she could see anyway out of it, her fate is tied to young Jaime Frazer. She doesn’t give up the hope of seeing Frank again, but can she keep Jamie from her heart?
At over 40 hours in length, I thought it would take months for me to finish Outlander. In the end, it took just about two weeks. I could not get enough of Claire and Jamie’s adventures in the Highlands. I became fully engaged in the politics and plotting of the clans and never willingly stopped listening when I had to go into work or go into the house at the end of the work day. There were several times when my paperback copy came in handy. I just couldn’t bare not knowing what would happen next, so I’d find my place and continue with my reading. I loved every minute of it, feeling guilty all the while for willing Claire to forget Frank (after all, he was never any where near as sexy or protective of her – I can rationalize infidelity in my fiction with the best of them). Thankfully by the time I had finished Outlander my Audible credits renewed, because I didn’t want to have to wait to continue on with Dragonfly in Amber.
Davinia Porter does a magnificent job narrating Outlander. Her voice was perfect and fit so well with the story, reading the romantic parts as easily as the adventurous and dangerous parts. Her voice was so much a part of the novel that when I read from the paperback copy I was reading with her voice in my ears. That I couldn’t wait on my next drive to finish the novel, I still felt like she was with me in the end.
Reading this book was also fun because I couldn’t help but Tweet about it. Being one of the last people in the universe to read it had its advantages then. So many people jumped in on the conversation, especially Elle. Tweeting about it with her was an absolute treat. If you can’t live in the same country, Twitter sometimes can be the next best thing.
My Final Thoughts
There is so much to love about Outlander. It’s a great deal of fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its at parts adventure, intrigue, mystery, and saucy romance. If you enjoy historical fiction and a romance that doesn’t entirely dominate the story, you really must do yourself a favor and give this novel a try. It’s an addiction that will sweep you away.
You know what I think. Why not check out what others have to say?
I’m publishing this review as part of Audiobooks Week, coordinated by Devourer of Books.