Review of Outlander: By Diana Gabaldon
Written by Chris Patterson
And I will start the review with the quote: “Sassenach,” he said against my shoulder, a moment later. “Mm?” “Who in God’s name is John Wayne?” “You are,” I said. “Go to sleep”
*and with that I start giggling again*
But then if I do you will think that Outlander is merely a witty romance novel? After a hearty discussion yesterday with a nonbeliever (who I will note has not read it because he thought it was labeled so) I will tell you it is in fact not. I will not fib, I find the allure of the characters very compelling, and certainly have grown attached to the world, and there is a fair amount of discussion about the idea of love. No, Outlander (the first book in a rousing series) is more of a gateway drug. Weighing in at a hefty 600 plus pages it takes the time to build the characters and the two historically accurate worlds (yes there is more than one), but it is certainly not a droll historical work. Personally I found a few comparisons to what most refer to as “Game of Thrones” series in my presentation of the facts during the debate, and one would certainly not call George RR Martian a romance novelist. The writing is vivid and intelligent without being pretentious. The characters brought me joy and heartbreak, sometimes within the same paragraph, and I treacherously walked through the entire series without stopping. I feel lucky in many ways to have found this series so late, not having to wait the years in between publishings. It first came out in the 90’s and a new one comes out every couple of years, and I now anxiously await the one in June of this year. For two solid months I let the series infect my thoughts, my speech and the way I look at things. Grateful blessings for my washing machine, shower and comfortable bed have been muttered often. I found myself even investing time (when unable to actually be reading) thinking about the roles of the “modern woman” and how and, more so, why the roles were so clearly defined in centuries past for Claire is a very bright woman and her insights are rather enlightening. I will admit, I am one of “those” women who had the minister take the phrase “To Obey” out of my wedding vows, however now I think I see how why it would have gotten in there in the first place, for Jamie also has his moments of grace.
I dislike reviews that are just a retelling of the book, for the most part spoiling your own foray into the new world so I will try to just leave you with my impressions. We start the story in the modern day, (mostly, it is the end of World War Two). Claire is a war time nurse, finally reunited with her MI-6 agent of a husband, Frank Randall. We spend a good deal of time with Frank and a certain amount of needed interrogatory back and forth to set up the second part of our journey. I impatiently waited for our traveler to indeed find her way into the 18th century Scottish highlands and was not disappointed upon our arrival. In unexpected twists and turns we find ourselves (as well as Claire) falling in love with a time past and in the same breath terrified of what it could be and trying to get home. Jamie Fraser has his moments perched between hero and villain in a wide variety of ways as he and Claire come to terms with the path that unfolds before them. The author pulls few punches in the treatment of her characters (hence the earlier George RR Martin comparison) and leaves us at times broken and trying to understand how a soul could possibly heal. It is the journey there that makes this series worth the time invested.
I would highly recommend this series to most readers, spanning multiple genres sytles. As the books age, so do the characters and the story line. Unlike many authors who try to place large plots in small time spans (I am looking at you Jack Bauer of 24 fame) we do in fact span years with these stories. With time (and books) the series becomes a very interesting generational tale, and with the addition of compelling new youthful characters it prevents the main reason most good character based storylines eventually need to end.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars , 6 or more if I can borrow one from the some of the bad books I have read.
About the Book –
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.
Since a young and tender age Chris Patterson has been addicted to books. Her grandmother provided a Nancy Drew monthly book by mail subscription that was the gateway drug. Amazon is now planning world domination around her one-click addiction.