Kim’s Review of Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderPride and Prejudice has been my favorite novel since I read it for the first time over a decade ago.  In that time period the ONLY book to produce a hero that could come close to Fitzwilliam Darcy was Persuasion.  Captain Frederick Wentworth and Darcy were, in my opinion, the epitome of what you wanted in a man.  They both were strong, confident men who were able to admit they were wrong and change for their lady loves.  Come on ladies, who wouldn’t want a man like them?  Fast forward to last month when I was on Twitter and saw an infographic that allowed readers to select their favorite male literary hero.  Maybe it’s just me being arrogant, but I thought Darcy had it in the bag.  I clicked on the link, and to my great surprise the name that popped as the winner was James Fraser.  I immediately did a Google search to figure out what book he was from.  Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, was the response I got, and thus began my journey to figure out how this Scottish Highlander could possibly beat out the love of my life, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Claire Randall is a combat nurse back from World War II in 1945.  Married before the war began, Claire is separated from her husband during the war and is finally reunited with him after hostilities are over.  Out on their second honeymoon in Scotland, Claire falls through a portal that transports her to the year 1743.  Once there she must find a way to become part of the past until she can return to the future.  Her journey is filled with a forced marriage, an attempted burning at the stake, claims of witchcraft and prostitution, and countless other atrocities.  The silver lining in this, however, is her forced marriage to a Scottish Highlander named Jamie Fraser.  He pledges to protect her, body and soul, and in many instances, does.  Will she ever be able to tell him where she really comes from?  Will they ever be able to figure out a way to get her back to the present?  With her growing feelings for Jamie, will she even want to go?

Let me start out by saying: JAMIE FRASER. OH MY GOD.  I totally “get” how women ranked him higher than Darcy!  He’s mysterious, funny, kind-hearted, at times arrogantly confident, strong, and devastating.  There are times you want to smack him for his cockiness, and other times you want to hug him for the brutality that he’s had to face.  In short, he is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read.

At times Jamie and the other men of the period are barbaric, but when you look at the time period (the 1700’s) it’s historically accurate.  There is one scene in the book where Jamie whips Claire for disobeying him and putting his clansmen in extreme danger.  While I don’t agree with the beating, his explanation of why he did it (it’s expected by his clansman for retribution due to the danger they’ve been placed in) makes sense.  Even Claire understands and accepts it (and she’s a modern woman!)  Jamie is extremely remorseful over the entire incident and agrees to make a pact to Claire that he’d never do it again, regardless of the traditions he lives by.  This brought a question to my mind: are we able to accept abuses of women when placed into the context of the past?  If I read a book that took place in contemporary times there would be NO WAY IN HELL that I’d accept abuse as a viable plot point.  But when placed into a story where it’s truly indicative of the way people acted, I can accept it as “historically relevant.”  Do you agree?

Now, on to Gabaldon’s writing style.  At times the book got a little wordy, but by and large it created a world that you can’t help but  become mesmerized by.  Jamie’s revelations near the end of the book about what happened to him in prison are probably some of the darkest and most heart wrenching scenes I’ve ever read.  His vulnerability as he is telling Claire of his pain and shame is both awe-inspiring and deeply depressing.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt as deeply for a character as I did for Jamie in that scene.

A word of caution: there is a rape scene in the novel, and as I’ve stated in other book reviews in the past, I feel that this should be noted somewhere.  You never know what a reader has gone through in his/her own life and what a scene like that (explicit or not), could trigger for them.

In all, I think this work is incredibly multidimensional.  It fits in so many genre “boxes” that you can’t help but identify with it.  It is heartwarming, touching, and a beautiful piece.  I urge all of you to see for yourself how great of a work Gabaldon has created.  Maybe Jamie will rate as high on your list of male heroes as he now does on mine?

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my second completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my first completed review for the Book to Movie Challenge

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Random House Publishing (2004)
eBook: 818 pages
ISBN: 9780440335160

46 thoughts on “Kim’s Review of Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

  1. Higher than Darcy? Come on LOL love the review, however don’t you think the cover needs more, glad I read your review otherwise I might not have picked this book up I am kindof a cover judge which can or can’t be good. Thank you for the word of caution it is always good to know what you are getting into when it comes to those kind of scenes. I have started a book sometimes only to not finish because I never knew that so much language or a scene was in it that was not to my taste. However this sounds so good that I might skip the scene to read the book. Better than Darcy???? We shall see…:)

  2. Pingback: Kim’s Review of Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon « Dogs, Books, and Science

  3. I am ridiculously obsessed with the Outlander series. I’m currently in withdrawal because I’ve read all the books in the main series and the next one won’t be out until the fall.

    I highly recommend reading the rest of the series. She sucks you in with Outlander, but you really fall for the characters the more you get to know them.

  4. I liked the plot of Outlander, and could see the appeal of Jamie Fraser. But the book was WAY overwritten. It needed 1/3 cut out, maybe more. I don’t know if I can force myself to read the next books in her series. Are they worth the time?

  5. Yes! Jamie is so perfectly imperfect. He’s virginal but not innocent; raw masculinity but very sensitive. He’s gorgeous but scarred in more ways than one. You know I love me some Mr Darcy but Jamie is an amazing hero as well. I can’t wait to see what you think about the rest of the series. It’s been a couple years since I read them. I felt a little bogged down with the historical details in the last two, but I am definitely looking forward to the next book coming out this year.

  6. I have to admit, it took me three tries to get into this book. I just didn’t didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Then Jamie appeared on the page, and I was hooked!! Oh, and Tasha, you totally need to read this book!!!!!

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  15. It seems that I’ve been living under a rock (is that the expression?) since I’ve only recently learnt about the Outlander series. After reading your post I finally decided to order the first book online. It’ll probably arrive next week, I can’t wait!

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  18. Wow, I was with you, there would never be a better male romance hero than Mr. Darcy. But you’ve got me convinced now. I read this post because I’ve been hearing so much about Outlander and now you’ve put me over the edge. I’m going to my indie bookstore today and getting it. Thanks and cheers!

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