Written by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Anchor Canada, 2002 (First published in 1991)
My star rating: 5 stars!!
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just 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 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 is catapulted 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 love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. Find it on Goodreads
This was the very last book I read in 2018….. and what a fantastic way to end the year! This book was every bit as incredible as I hoped it would be. See, me and this book go way back. And by way back I mean 1991. When this book first came out my mom bought a first edition hardcover. It was read quickly and sat in a predominant spot on her shelves. She still has that copy! I’ve always admired it, and wondered what it was about. The only thing she told me was that it was amazing. Mom – you’re not wrong!
I will admit though, this book wasn’t easy to get into. First of all, the size is intimidating! And second of all, the story takes a little bit of time to wrap your head around. We begin in 1945 with a woman and her husband on their second honeymoon. They were separated for years due to the war, and this is their chance to come back together to their married life. But, while on a walk, Claire finds herself transported back in time to the 1700’s. It’s more than a little disorienting to her and to us as a reader. We feel like we are latching onto Claire, her husband, and her life, and then we are thrust into a new time, with new characters, and new situations….. however they still relate in some small ways. Because of this beginning, I beg you to give it just a little longer to get your bearings.
Once the story really started moving – it never stops!!! Even though the author is VERY detailed and long winded (more on that in a minute), the pace is still really quick. You may think you know where they’re going to go next, only to be swept up in a new set of unexpected circumstances. There’s politics between the English and the Scottish, there’s politics between clans, and there’s lines drawn between Clair’s life in the 1900’s that connect to her life in the 1700’s. Oh, that and the characters…….. omg the characters!
The character development in this book was absolutely phenomenal!!!! They’re so complete and feel like real people by the end of it. I felt like I knew these characters inside and out. Even the smallest of characters were so full of life and emotion that I felt like I knew almost everything about them. But Claire – and Jamie………. oh Jamie! He was EVERYTHING!! This book was 5 stars alone just for the person he is! If this man were real….. the things I would do to meet him! He was such a balanced person. He was strong and weak, and knew just when to show the right side of himself to suit the needs of the moment.
There are quite a few people that find fault with this book. I can definitely see why. There’s rape, abuse, torture, murder, more abuse, and more rape. This isn’t an easy read! And some people might say that there is glorification, especially when it comes to spousal abuse and rape. I agree to a point. This isn’t going to be a book that everyone will enjoy. These instances were difficult, painful and cringeworthy. But here’s the thing – it was the 1700’s in Scotland – these things were normal! Women didn’t have a say. Women were raped. Men had their backs slashed open and were given bloody painful endings. I didn’t feel that at any time there was glorification of any situation, but I do see how some people might feel that way. I quite liked how the author explored these situations as Claire was technically an outsider from hundreds of years in the future. She had to adapt to this lifestyle and struggle to remain her strong independent self.
The last thing I want to mention is the writing. It was effortless! And also breathless at times. She is SO detailed! I sometimes found myself wondering if all that detail was really necessary. But, for the most part, she writes in such a way that you don’t mind the paragraphs explaining how the rocks look in the sunlight, or how Jamie’s chest looks like in the moonlight (yum!). As longwinded as she could be sometimes, I was still fascinated by every word. I actually don’t think that I would feel that connected with this book if it wasn’t for all of that!
I went into this knowing that I would love it (and Jamie) but I ended up loving both far more than I ever expected!! I can’t wait to start on book 2!!
Until next time happy reading!