Book Review: Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon

10964Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
Pages: 688
Source: Purchased
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads || Buy on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

My review:

“Don’t be afraid. There’s the two of us now.”

I have very conflicted feelings about Outlander, so I’m sorry if this review is a reflection of the mess in my mind right now. This review could be very long or very short and I don’t think it will make sense, but here it goes.

I picked up this book thinking it would be about time travel, love, and war. And Scotland, of course. It was undoubtedly about all of those things, yes, but there were a whole lot of other things, too. I still don’t understand how that description can be right and wrong at the same time, but I digress.

The synopsis tells you the gist of the story but there really is so much more. It does not mention the extreme violence, bloodshed, rape, and sadism that occurs throughout this book. So now I’m telling you. If these things bother you, I doubt the smutty romance and historical timeline will make you feel any less uneasy about it. But this is where I was conflicted… because despite the things that made me cringe and say “what the f*ck” several times throughout the story, I still enjoyed it. Does that make me a bad person–or worse–a sadist? I don’t know.

All I do know is that I could not put down this book. Yes, I had to read it over the span of a few days (time-permitting) but I could have read it in one sitting if not for silly things like sleep and work and family. In other words, Outlander is consuming. I was enthralled. I thought about Claire and Jamie a lot, even when I wasn’t reading this book, and I believe that is a testament to Gabaldon’s writing.

As outrageous as some of the content was (specifically one horrific scene in Part 3), I still wanted the best for our protagonist(s). I’d like to say that some of Jamie’s actions were unjustifiable but like many others have stated, these scenes were true to the time period. That is both unfortunate and commendable. By “that” I mean the historical accuracy which I do not have the knowledge to confirm. It seems legitimate enough. Do you understand why I’m torn? I should have a problem (or 99) with this book, I really should, but I still think it’s a fantastic book. These are the feelings I am left with:

  • Scotland. Scotland. Scotland. I want to go to Scotland.
  • I need to pick up some books on the nation’s history.
  • I’m dying to finish the rest of this massive series.
  • Binge on the Outlander television adaptation ASAP.
  • Jamie.

Does this not mean that Gabaldon has written a great book? I think it does.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book is more than just a smutty romance in a Scottish setting. It’s more than kilts and time traveling and charming accents. There’s just so much.

The writing is eloquent and savage and clearly well-researched. You can tell that Gabaldon put a lot of effort into this book, and the thousands of pages that make up this series are further proof of that.

In conclusion: My morals say 4 stars but my heart says 5. In this particular case, I’m following the bloody structure in my chest that’s two sizes too small. And no, my decision was not swayed by the open Google tabs I have on my screen that are filled with images of Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser. I promise.

Now, do I marathon the rest of this massive series? Or do I jump right into the show?

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon

  1. Birdie says:

    Love your review! This is my favorite book, but even now there are some scenes I skip when I reread. Also, you aren’t a sadist unless you enjoyed those scenes. Thankfully it sounds like you didn’t, so you’re all good. 😉


    • Layla Fray says:

      Haha, thank you! I can see why this book (and the whole series) is loved by so many people. I honestly think it’s one of my favourites now, too. And I totally get the need to skip some scenes. For me, those scenes were like a bad car wreck! They felt like a punch in the gut but I couldn’t look away 😛


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