by Diana Gabaldon
5 of 5 stars
Claire Randall slips back through time by way of standing stones in Scotland while on her second honeymoon. The story follows her from her original time of 1945 back to 1743.
There she meets a colorful group of Scottish Highlanders, including Jamie. Her challenges are numerous as she tries to come to terms with her situation, cope with life in 1743 and try to figure out a way back to her own time- all while fighting growing feelings for Jamie.
Claire Beauchamp Randall: Striking golden hued eyes (often compared to the color of fine whisky), very curly brown hair that refuses to be tamed, 5″6′ and a pale complexion. Independent, strong, stubborn, kind and intelligent. Trained as a combat nurse and served in WWII as a medic. Played by Caitriona Balfe on the Starz adaptation of the Outlander novels.
James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (Jamie): Piercing blue “cat” eyes (slightly slanted), thick dark red multi-hued hair, 6″4′, straight nose, wide mouth and scars on his back. Stubborn, a born leader, proud, caring, protective, intelligent and funny. Skilled fighter and swordsman. Well educated and left-handed. Played by Sam Heughan on the Starz adaptation of the Outlander novels.
So… I feel as though I should start this review with a confession. To my everlasting shame, this book sat in by ‘To Be Read’ pile for a long time and I has several false starts before I really got into it. Of course, once I was hooked.. I was seriously hooked. This remains by favorite series of all time. I chose my words and quotes carefully so as not to spoil the novel for you, but there may be some very minor spoilers.
As I said before, it takes a minute to get into this book, but man, it is worth it. It starts a bit slow with a lot of background on Claire and her current life but don’t let that scare you away.
One of my favorite things about this novel (and the entire series), is that the characters are so richly developed that you can’t help but feel like to you know them all, especially since each character has such a unique voice. The entire book is so detailed that you can visualize every moment as if a movie were playing in your head.
Claire is a strong and independent women, even by 1945 standards. Drop her back in time to 1743 and they don’t know what to make of her. Her refusal to be a quiet, subservient woman of the times and her intelligence leads to a decent amount of humor and a whole lot of danger.
Gabaldon does not hold any punches when it comes to the gritty aspects of life in 1743 and certainly not when it comes to emotion.
“I want to hold you hard to me and kiss you, and never let you go. I want to take you to my bed and use you like a whore, ’til I forget that I exist. And I want to put my head in your lap and weep like a child.”
The mouth turned up at one corner, and a blue eye opened slitwise.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “I can’t do any but the last of those without fainting or being sick again.”
And then there is Jamie. Oh, Jamie… He is strong and clever and smart, but best of all he is kind. He is the definition of a hero, flaws and all. And his quirks! Can’t hold a tune, can’t wink and a giant of a man with deep red hair. Jamie and Claire will be one of the best literary couples for a long time to come. Gabaldon writes such a real, raw and intense love story that the only reaction possible is to be deeply moved. It is not in this book, it is later in the series, but I have always loved this quote:
“When the day shall come that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’-ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”
I’ve read reviews where people complained that it was too long, but I could not possibly disagree more. Diana Gabaldon has researched Scotland thoroughly, from the landscape to the historical events, and has been praised by critics for her accuracy. While the characters are fictional, some are based on historic figures, and they are all in a setting of rich Scottish culture and history.
If you are looking for a “bodice ripper” type romance, you will not find that here. This book has substance, heart, pain, love and loss. It will twist up your emotions and stay with you long after you have finished reading. In all honesty, the only negative thing I can say about my reading experience with the Outlander Series is that I could only read it for the 1st time once. I have read all of the books in the series many times over, but nothing compares to the first time you read a book that grabs your soul the way Outlander does.
Setting: Scotland 1743, with bits of Scotland 1945
Point of View: Told by Claire in the first person
Price: $1.99 on Amazon (as of 1/16/15)
8 completed primary books (usually 600+ pages), with a 9th book in the works.
Outlander (Outlander, #1)
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2)
Voyager (Outlander, #3)
Drums of Autumn (Outlander, #4)
The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5)
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander, #6)
An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander, #8)
Untitled (Outlander, #9) – not yet released
Each of the main books follows Claire and Jamie, with additional perspectives from supporting characters.
A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows
The Space Between
Lord John Books (focus is on different characters, but share characters and intersecting story lines):