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 James 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.
I had never read historical fiction that wasn’t required reading for school before Outlander. A friend of mine recommended it and even then, I was hesitant. It didn’t sound like my thing. But with all of the rave reviews, I decided to give it a try. This was no bodice ripping romance, after all.
Outlander is a stunningly beautiful novel. Diana Gabaldon paints a beautiful backdrop for her complex, fully-developed characters to perform against. And she’s done her homework. The research that went into the novel is evident. The fact that she fully admits that she didn’t tell anyone she was writing a novel for fear of the pressure and ridicule that often goes with that, makes the depth of her research that much more impressive.
The plot was solid, although I felt it started off a little slow, especially the chicken sacrifices and detailed descriptions of plants and herbs. But once Claire visited the mini Stonehenge and was transported back in time, the story took off and never really let up. I was riveted by the harshness of life in 1740s Scotland, especially the views on women. We’ve come a long way in the past 250 years, thankfully!
The book is long and there seems to be two solid arcs. In fact, at 896 pages, the book could quite easily have been two books, but the length doesn’t detract from the story at all. I would have happily paid twice as much to have read two books, so I’m not complaining.
While the plot is definitely the part that makes this book work for me, it’s just as much character-driven as plot-driven. The characters are all strong, well-developed and so completely differentiated from one another, it’s hard to remember they’re fictional creations of the author’s imagination. I can only imagine how detailed her character bios must be.
Outlander is by far one of the best-researched historical novels around. The time-traveling aspect only makes me love it more, because I’m addicted to time-traveling fiction. The romance is well-done and intense. This is easily the best book in the series primarily because the plot moves without ever dragging.
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Category: Historical, Science Fiction, Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Links to Purchase: Amazon, Barnes and Noble