Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Rating: 4 Stars
Well, it finally happened. This book is as diesel as the Russian Winter, ladies and gentlemen. That fact aside…
Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a WWII army nurse who steps through an ancient circle of stones in the Highlands of Scotland and is accidentally transported from her own time in 1945 to 1743. In the eighteenth century, despite her efforts to get back home to her own time and her husband, Frank Randall, Claire meets, marries, and falls madly in love with her soul mate and massive pain in the ass Scotsman, James ‘Jamie’ Alexander MacKenzie Fraser. Needless to say, I was swept away.
Now let’s be honest – time travel, the world of Highlands Scotland is my soul’s home – naturally I was tempted by this book for a while. Still, the sheer size of the mofo daunted me for years. Could I commit to such a tome?
Then I saw this…
Gird yer loins, gils! My god, I was fucking putty when I saw this. A friend sent me the link, completely unaware of the books it was connected to, but it was enough… oh sweet baby Jesus in the manger, it was enough. I HAD to read the books, I had to get lost in a story where I could get lost in the world that brought THAT voice to my enchanted ears.
I started reading the book, downloaded the audio version to my iPhone, and for a week, listened and read whenever I could. I loved the accent, the land of Scotland as I’ve known it with such a degree of history and reality tossed in. I learned about Scotland as I read, as well as learning about the time period, all while imagining men in kilts running rampant all over with nothing on beneath! The sex scenes were grand, growing better and better as the book wore on, and when Jamie Fraser was in peril, I was propelled forward in order to see for certain that my new book husband was ok. I finished a novel of 800+ pages in a week, and before I was done, drove to my local used book store and bought Dragonfly in Amber to continue the journey into the world of Jamie Fraser.
Yet, I must point out the details of the book that are less than perfect.
There is a good deal of authorial involvement in this novel (series). Gabaldon clearly steps in many times in order to propel her story forward. She puts her characters through hell in one moment, then when the ordeal is through, rather than delve into the very human reaction to trauma a person would expect, she has her characters burst into hysterical laughter. Now, this would be acceptable under the right circumstances – I for one laugh when I’m nervous or scared – but she uses it as a crutch, over and over. Not only that, she has her characters laughing til they have tears streaming down their face – at nothing. Perhaps I’m a snob when it comes to humor – they say funny people are harder to make laugh and I admit I resemble that remark, but seriously, grown Scottish men don’t laugh til they cry every time a breeze blows through. Simple as that.
Also, yes, Gabaldon REALLY likes the sound of her own voice. 800+ pages, ladies and gents. It didn’t need to be that long by any means. A great deal of repeated description and interjection from the narrator Claire could be cut without losing the beauty of both the story and the prose. Yet, knowing that Gabaldon got away with it and people bought it in droves makes me feel far more comfortable with my own book The Offering, which many friends have warned me will be very well received by fans of Gabaldon. (Bring it on, Universe.)
And finally, Claire Randall. She is my soul sister in so many ways. She’s fierce, fiery, stubborn, smart, fun, funny, almost as big a fan of sex – seriously, we’re the same person… save for one tiny detail. Gabaldon tries really hard to rob her of common sense, regularly. She’s lived in eighteenth century Scotland for almost a year and still she has trouble comprehending the idea of witch burnings and women shutting their mouths under certain circumstances. Oh, and she deals with conflict by bursting into laughter rather than processing emotion, there’s that too.
Yet, despite those faults, I’m currently 5/8ths of the way through Dragonfly in Amber and I just got home from my local used book shop where I bought Voyager, Drums of Autumn, and A Fiery Cross, all in preparation of the next few weeks of reading. I ain’t fucking around, kids.
So in conclusion, Jamie Fraser, take me now.