Series: Outlander #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 1, 1991
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Time Travel
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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 in 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.
With the start of the new series on STARZ based on this book, I thought it might be helpful to review the book for those who may still be undecided about reading it or watching the show.
Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband, Frank, in the Highlands of Scotland. He’s an historian and she’s a nurse. This is the period immediately following the end of World War II in 1945 where both of them were separated for the past six years, she serving as a combat nurse and he with MI-6. Frank is intrigued by the history in the area and accompanies Claire to a mysterious rock formation nearby their B&B. He asks Claire to return on her own for more information and she inadvertently touches a stone that sends her back to the 18th century, the year 1743.
First of all, I let this book sit in my Kindle for more than a year as I’m not a fan of time travel and the premise didn’t seem that interesting. I am now pretty blown away by the magnificence of this story that takes its time to develop and unfold, juxtaposing two different eras in the effort. When Claire found herself in the year 1743, I had to adjust my thinking to how a woman from the year 1945 would react in that time period and then in 1743. I had to also overlay that with Claire’s background, which wasn’t divulged in its entirety at the onset. Pieces of her history were revealed when she justified her perspectives, which sometimes were at odds with her own modern era.
When Claire is captured and taken to Castle Leoch, home of the MacKenzie clan, things begin to get even more interesting as she begins to adapt and somewhat come to terms with what has happened to her. The description of 18th life in the Scottish Highlands was incredibly interesting and informative, delivered in a way that didn’t feel like a history lesson.
Claire’s relationship with Jamie Fraser added a level of complexity that I hadn’t anticipated. He’s one of the more complicated characters I’ve encountered in a while as he presents himself as a simple man but he keeps showing up as something other. Jamie is also a study in contradictions as he sometimes handles things based on steeped traditions but at other times, shows an amazing gift of insight for things he doesn’t understand.
The bottom line
The book is filled with intrigue, conflict and excitement and lacks predictability. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the tale, with the dialogue delivered authentically for both eras, which I found extraordinary.
I’m now hooked and will be continuing this series to the end. It’s not a simple story that you can pigeon hole into a few statements. If you appreciate great story telling, well-developed characters and mystery and intrigue, you will find all of that packaged very well in this book. The issues you may read about in other reviews just make it that much more compelling to read as there are plenty to debate. Don’t let this one get away from you.
OUTLANDER TV SERIES PREVIEW
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