Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Finished Diana Gabaldon's Outlander last night before bed. I love this book. I mean, I really, really LOVE this book. This was a re-read for me (of a book I'd originally bought, FTC). I first read Outlander during my third year of law school. I remember being nervous about reading it, thinking, for some reason, that it was high fantasy, instead of the historical romance that it really is. I was afraid I wouldn't like it, since I wasn't much of a fantasy reader (then). But it was on some list of the 100 Best Books of something or other, and I figured, hey, I want to be as well read as the next gal, so I decided to plunge in. And once I did, I never wanted to go back.

The basic story is about Claire Beauchamp Randall, a married British combat nurse living through the aftermath of WWII. She and her husband, Frank Randall, a historian, are taking a sort of belated honeymoon in Scotland. Claire is magically transported back to 18th century Scotland when she leans against some standing stones (along the lines of Stonehenge) in the Scottish countryside. Once there, the book tells the story of how Claire learns to adapt (or not), how she meets her husband's ancestor Black Jack Randall, and how she comes to be married (!) to Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser.

I love Claire and I love Jamie. Next to Anne and Gilbert Blythe, they are probably my favorite literary couple of all time. Claire is high-spirited and independent, in TWO time periods where you wouldn't expect it. The only real problem I have with the novel is that Claire sometimes seems TOO strong-willed. She strikes me as much more of a late-20th-century woman (the book was written in the 1990's) than an early-20th-century woman. But maybe I just don't know enough about women in the '40's. And Jamie. Sigh. He's just about the perfect man. Handsome, intelligent, brave. And slightly stubborn.

The novel goes on to detail Claire's attempts to get back to her own time, as well as Jamie's attempts to escape from the long arm of the law, after him because he has been falsely accused of murder. I can't help but be sucked in once I start the novel. That's why it only took me a couple of weeks to finish an 850-page novel. This is the first book in a seven book series (with one more book on the way, supposedly).

Easily, easily five out of five Whatevers. READ THIS BOOK! Especially if you like historical romance, except then you've probably read it already. There are a few sex scenes and some swearing (but especially British/Scottish swearing), so those who are squeamish, beware. I don't mind that stuff at all, but if you do, I swear the rest of the book is good enough to make up for it. The amount of research that must have gone into the book is simply astounding. Gabaldon certainly knows her Scottish stuff. I am pretty sure that, if you give this novel a chance, you'll be diving into the other six volumes ASAP. I read them all back-to-back the first time, but I'm spacing them out now, to more fully enjoy them!

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