Outlander – Diana Gabaldon



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.

My Thoughts

First, I have to preface this review with two statements.

  1. I will attempt to be as spoiler free as possible – I can say with absolute certainty that there are very specific things I’d like not to discuss here.
  2. I have to keep reminding myself that the majority of this book takes place in 1743 – and while I understand this is an extremely different time period, it still does nothing to excuse a lot of the behaviour I saw in this book.

Okay, that taken care of, let’s get going!

Outlander is incredibly rich in imagery – there’s a certain mystique here that is incredibly captivating. All at once, I found myself walking through the woods of the Highlands. I could smell the smells, and see the sights. I was there, at Castle Leoch, with Claire, being introduced to the goings on of the period. (And the dresses! Yeesh, how did women walk in those things!)

It’s very clear that a lot of research went into this book. I know very little of the history of Scotland, but even a curious google search showed me that much of the goings on – even the places and some of the people – are very factually accurate. I love that. I love the rich history, and the imagery, and just how much passion went into every detail, every thought, every action.

That said, there is a fair amount of vivid imagery I really, really did not care for. It’s here that I have to keep reminding myself of the different time period – my 2016 mentality, beliefs, morality, socialization, and culture do not fit 1743 Scotland by any stretch of the imagination. As stated, though, it does not excuse the behaviour. (There was a lot of behaviour that made me physically ill – at one point, a panic attack was triggered, and that was so very unpleasant.) A foul person is a foul person – no matter who, what, where, or when they are.

It’s this incredible difference that makes Outlander a difficult book for me to enjoy. There are scenes, occurrences, and goings on that I cannot stomach – and Claire’s complacent attitude towards them boggles the mind. However, I have to remind myself again that Claire is originally from post-war 1945 – things weren’t all that great then, either. She also has to deal with quite the cultural shift. She’s mending, herself, from her experiences as a nurse in the war, only to see first-hand battle on the Highlands. Falling head-first, quite literally, into an ongoing conflict, Claire sees quite a fair amount of bodily damage – unlike anything she’d seen during her own experiences. She sees, and endures, a fair amount from the people around her, it’s no wonder she assimilates to the culture and social graces presented to her in an extremely intense, and emotionally jarring, situation. However, her complacency, and apologetic excuse-making is not something I can support – nor can I support why she became so complacent, unfeeling, and apologetically excusing.

It’s hard not to find certain things about these characters endearing, though. There is an abundance of sass, snark, sarcasm, and bite. And we all know how much I love me some sassy characters.

Outlander is an intense, wild, complicated, and incredibly dramatic adventure. It’s a wild ride, beginning to end.


~ by Aubrey Smith on December 9, 2016.

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