June 7, 2012

Book Review: Outlander

On my flight home from Emily and Henry's wedding a couple of weeks ago, my airplane neighbor and I got to talking about books.  Surprisingly, she and I had similar taste enjoying such novels as The Hunger Games, the Twilight Saga, Divergent/Insurgent, and the like.  After exchanging a number of suggestions back and forth (for instance, I was adamant that she read the Tiger's Curse series), she assured me that I must read Outlander by author Diana Gabaldon.

I was a bit skeptical when I found out that the book fell under the genre of historical fiction.  As you all know, historical books are not normally my sort of thing.  I am a fiction girl at heart, preferably young adult fiction with a little utopia/dystopia thrown into the mix, but 100% fiction for sure.  Regardless, since we had so many other book interests in common, I decided to head to my local library and give it a shot (I decided on the library because, honestly, who wants to waste $15.00 on a book they aren't even sure they will like?).  In the end, I read the 625+ page book in under a week and LOVED IT!  My best description of Outlander goes something like this:

1 Part The Time Traveler's Wife + 1 Part Braveheart = Outlander

Claire Randall is leading a double life.  She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon - when she innocently touches a boulder 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 border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. 
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch.  She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart.  For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Interesting Side note: When I Googled the author, I found out that Diana Gabaldon is actually a Dr.!  In fact, she holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, and spent a dozen years as a university professor before beginning to write fiction - none of which has anything to do with her Outlander novels.  I guess that just goes to show me/you/us that we can never really know what God has in store for our lives; so we might as well enjoy the ride!


As explained in the Adams County Book Reviews:
Part romance, part historical fiction, with a dash of science fiction...this book appeals to readers of basically any genre.  But, don't let the romance descriptive deter you from trying this - people I know who despise romance novels cannot believe how much they enjoyed reading this book and the series...Gabaldon's extensive research is evident in the descriptions of the 17th century and the conflicts of that era between the Scottish clans and the British.
From the start, I found myself liking the character of Claire.  She is strong, resourceful, adaptable, and underneath it all, an incredible partner, lover, and friend.  Jamie, too, is one of my favorite male literary characters.  Although his behavior is sometimes a bit archaic in terms of gender relations, it is understandable when placed within the confines of his place in history.  Outside of that, he is - above all else - honorable, a man who always seeks to find himself on the right side of justice.  In fact, he reminds me immensely of William Wallace's character in Braveheart: incredibly ruthless at times, willing do do whatever is necessary to stand up for what he believes is right, but ultimately a loving and patriotic family man.

Main protagonists aside, Outlander "is not a light-hearted read, for sure.  There's a very high body count, and some brutal torture scenes."  Regardless, for me, all of that just made the story "ring true."  In the end I was left satisfied by the "epic-style adventure and truly satisfying romance." (Source)

After finishing Outlander yesterday afternoon, I immediately headed back to the library to pick up book two in the series, Dragonfly in Amber.

Unfortunately, it was checked out. :(  

Instead, I picked up another dystopian YA novel to keep me occupied until Dragonfly is returned.  I will let you know about my thoughts on this continuing series in future posts!

Question of the Day:

In the spirit of historical fiction: what is one event, time in history, or culture that you are interested in learning more about?!

Ally and Bo

No comments:

Post a Comment