Published by dELL on January 1, 1991
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Personally Purchased via Audible.com
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.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is her first book in the Outlander series. It is normally tagged as Romance/Historical/Fantasy. 2 out of the 3 tags confuse the crap out of me and this might be one of the harder reviews I have ever had to write. Seriously.
Apparently, this review needs actual discussion points. So let me start with the writing. There are many and it is entirely in first person. 800+ pages in first person is a lot. That being said, the words held that classic feel and undeniable talent of a word artist. The audiobook certainly did the author justice with beautifully spoken accents that captured the essence of every character.
Point two – Characters. The two main characters being Claire and Jamie. Claire’s character seemed to take on many different feelings throughout the book, but I am reluctant to call it character growth. Claire felt undefined and muddy at times. As if the author had not made up her mind on how the character should be portrayed. At times I liked her and at other times I felt she needed more than a good swift kick in the ass. I felt Claire was especially disconnected in the first half of the book, which should not have happened with her first person point of view. The TV show is a hot topic of discussion lately – Jamie being most of it – the allure of him through most of the book was obvious. A wronged and beautiful man, especially in a kilt, conjures so many great fantasies and dream worthy thoughts. He was swoon worthy and glorious. His character, in contract to Claire’s, did feel especially well defined and level. However; the ending of Outlander pretty much takes any hope of keeping this appeal and throws it through a wood chipper.
Point three – Secondary Characters. I thought the secondary characters were quite brilliant. They varied greatly and really added a nice texture to the story. I think it spoke a lot to that time, where good friends and family are the defining point between life and death.
Point four – the Story. OK, so I am going to start by just saying that this not a romance. Sorry for those of you that feel it is. I don’t think so. Happily Ever After is what defines romance. Outlander did not have a HEA, therefore not a romance. I am not saying Jamie is not swoon worthy. I am not saying that there was no sex. You can put these two things into any genre – it does not make them romances. This makes me wonder what direction the series on TV is going to take, but that is not really the discussion of this review. I think that the overall story is a deep and unique tale, but not mind-blowing like I was expecting. It is hard to go into why this book effected me as negatively as it did without there being a huge spoiler. I will leave you with this thought: I read as an escape. An escape from reality where things are brutal and gruesome at times. I work in a high stress environment with high conflict and abuse. I don’t want it to be a big part of a characters story and I certainly don’t want to be left with the brutality of it lingering on my soul.
Audiobook thoughts: Davina Porter narrates Outlander like a boss. Her artfully spoken accents added so much to the story. I don’t think anything could have changed that would have made this a better listen. I loved the timing and emotion Porter brought to the story.
I rate Outlander 2 out of 5 Bullets!
I personally purchased Outlander via Audible.com. All opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way.