Book #108: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is 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 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 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.

Two years. That’s how long it took me to read this book. Normally it wouldn’t have taken me so long, but I had other books to read and sometimes I didn’t want to read at all. So, really, it would have taken me a lot less than two years. Especially since once I got into reading it, it was easy to stick with it. 800+ pages is just a very daunting venture. Even for me.

I’m not a big historical fiction girl (not unless it is Victorian era) and i thought at first this book was going to be a flop. Add on the idea that a pivotal moment in the book is a married woman is married again, and you can understand my reticence. For the marriage conundrum, I decided that husband A, Frank Randall, was actually gay. Not sure why I decided that, but it made sense with the times and it helped me feel that her own future romance with husband B, Jamie Fraser, wasn’t so bad.

The historical fiction “issue” wasn’t an issue at all. See, my issue with a good portion of Historical fiction book’s is that the authors either puts too much historical facts or no real facts at all. Victorian customs aren’t that hard to figure out, but 18th century Highlander culture? Now I feel that takes some research. Gabaldon shows that research through events and action. She doesn’t use exposition for most of her cultural details. It felt more alive and got a non historical fiction reader to enjoy the book.

I did have some trouble with the book in the beginning. With. The slow beginning chapters and the prospect of 800+ pages, it made the idea of continuing disheartening. I had to limit myself to 100 pages or less per reading sit down in order to continue with the book. Once 🙂 are was in 18th century Scotland though, I found a new challenge . . . language.

Ohhh boy, talk about language barriers. The dialogue is written in the heavy Scottish accent that makes it hard to read. I had to read it out loud for a bit to get a handle of the language. However, as a bibliophile and writer nothing gets my literary panties in a twist more than spoken written dialogue. It brings the works closer and makes the experience 🙂 are was going through an experience for myself.

Another aspect of panty twisting was of course our hero, Jamie. Now, I have read reviews that this glorifies beating and rape. What book were you reading? The aspects of the beating were in context of the times. Men punished wives and he really couldn’t leave it alone without his kinsman thinking he was a pussy. On top of that, once he realizes why she did what she did (with is much farther into the book), he apologizes. He even explained his reasons after the beating. Besides, Claire did fight back. She’s a scrapper.

As for the rape, the only rape I can recall is a pivotal moment that happens to Jamie. It is a big moment that threatens Jamie’s health and relationship with Claire. You aren’t privy to the full rape, but Jamie does describe what his torture entailed. It is a moment of deep grief and heartbreaking. I found myself thinking that this is a good description of PTSD. Add on to Claire’s method of a cure (something that is used in practice if not that extreme), and the aftermath is amazing.

It was easy for me to get back into the book once I’ve paused it for a long time. I honestly really liked this book and saw it more as a culture and psychological study in fictional form than a traditional romance.

This book is not for everyone. It may be too long, too slow, content, or even writing style may deter a person, but I liked it and I do plan on reading the second book. Probably not until a good few months break and other book’s first.

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