Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
Posted March 15, 2016on:
published in 1991
where I got it: purchased new
As much as I love speculative fiction, sometimes I want something a little different. As much as I usually eat food that’s pretty healthy, sometimes I just wanna eat Arby’s curly fries.
And I am now part of the Outlander cult. One book in, and I’m all about drinking the kool aid and fangirling all over the place. This book was curly fries, really good potato chips, and salted caramel ice cream all rolled into one. It was all my guilty pleasures bound together into a doorstopper of a book that was a surprisingly fast read. Reading this book was like the best hand-to-mouth snacking ever.
And yes I know it is a TV show now. I haven’t seen the show.
Some of you are saying to yourselves “she’s finally read Outlander!”, and others are wondering what the hell the rest of us are going on about. For those of you in the second group, Outlander is a portal historical romance. It’s 1945, the war is over, and Claire and her husband Frank are enjoying a much deserved romantic getaway in Scotland. It’s the perfect location for Frank to research his family tree, for Claire to talk to the locals about herblore and local medicinal plants, and for the two of them to get some mental distance from everything they experienced during the war. And then one night, Claire touches something in a stone circle and finds herself hurled back two hundred years.
She doesn’t yet know when she is, but she knows where she is, and since she’s been listening to Frank drone on about his family tree, she knows his many-times-great Uncle Jonathan Randall is floating around here somewhere. She’ll just find a Randall, and all will be good, right? Oh wow, so wrong.
And then a whole bunch of stuff happens, the most important of which is that Claire meets Jamie Fraser. I keep trying to write this review in a somewhat literary fashion, and Outlander is written just beautifully. . . but folks, this is a romance adventure novel. Yes, there is plenty of factual history, tons of politics, plenty of action, Claire trying to figure out if she can get home, but mostly there is a boatload of romance between Claire and Jamie and countless pages of intensely hot sex. And I couldn’t put the book down.
The plot is fairly repetitive, it’s mostly variations on Claire getting caught by the British, Jamie and friends have to save her, they get into a fight because she’s not cautious enough, and then they have really hot make-up sex. The characters are problematic – Jamie expects Claire to obey his every command, be a subservient wife, and she laughs at his old fashioned ways but eventually comes to realize that he’s right, and traditional gender roles rule the day. The repetitiveness actually became soothing after a while – every time they argued I knew a hot sex scene was right around the corner. And the problematic subservient wife thing? I thought about it, and then realized I didn’t care. Jamie’s ways and traditions are certainly different than what Claire grew up with, but that doesn’t make him automatically wrong. Outlander is made of every single one of my guilty pleasures. Every. Single. One. And I couldn’t put the book down. (what, that’s the 3rd time I’ve said I couldn’t put it down?)
Also? Turns out Jonathan Randall is a rather sadistic asshole who enjoys tormenting anyone who pisses him off. Top of the list of people who have recently pissed him off are Claire and Jamie. After Jamie saves Claire one too many times, suddenly the tables are turned, and it’s Claire’s turn to save Jamie. He’s gotten himself captured by Randall, and to tell you anymore would be a spoiler. The end of this book had me crying into my coffee, and not just because the two lovers had a happy ending. It’s unfortunate that most of this blog post is me squeeing about how hot this book is, because there’s really so much more happening here (especially at the end) that’s deep, compelling, and powerful.
Luckily, there is a ton of books in this series, so I can have more guilty pleasure adventures with Claire and Jamie. Also, I have questions that need answers! Such as – how in the world is she not pregnant, who else will she share her time traveling secret with, and what changes will her actions cause for a future that hasn’t happened yet? What’s going to happen when Jamie learns that Claire’s first husband was a Randall? And if she can get back to her own time, what then?
No spoilers in the comments, please. But shout out if you’ve read this series, and how far into the series you are!