For Those Still on the Fence…Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Posted September 4, 2014 by Jonetta in Book Review | | 25 Comments

For Those Still on the Fence…Outlander by Diana GabaldonOutlander by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 1, 1991
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 896
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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.


Quick summary
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.


Initial impressions
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.


What works
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.




About Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.”

The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes a nonfiction (well, relatively) companion volume, THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels. Gabaldon (it’s pronounced “GAA-bull-dohn”—rhymes with “stone”) has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series).

Returning to her comic-book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled THE EXILE (set within the OUTLANDER universe and featuring the main characters from OUTLANDER), but told from the viewpoint of Jamie Fraser and his godfather, Murtagh.

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is.

She and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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25 responses to “For Those Still on the Fence…Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

  1. I was so on the fence with this one too. I watched the show and really really liked it. I tried to read the book and was just bored. Well after watching a few episodes I tried again, only this time I skipped to right when Claire is thrown back. SO. MUCH. BETTER. I just didn’t like Frank. Now that it is Jamie… I’m loving it.

  2. Kat

    I actually don’t mind that the books are so long. Sometimes when the story is great you want the book to just go on forever.
    I’m hooked on the tv series and then I found out there’s a whole book series out there and decided I’m definitely going to read it. Well, I still haven’t but I’m waiting on the right time 😉

    Kat @ Reading Owls

    • Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

      I hope you do start. While the TV series follows the book really closely, there are some differences (not significant).

      • Kat

        Well that’s to be expected. I like it that they make differences between books and movies/tv series, because then you become curious as to what did they change and what stayed the same.

        • And, according to the director, the creative approach may differ because there’s a better way to visually present a concept versus providing lots of detail in dialogue. I’ve loved his interpretations to date (4 episodes).

          • Kat

            Yes! And that’s exactly why I like this series so much. You get to see the emotion a character feels and it feels more pristine than excessive talking. And also, you get more of the beautiful scenery.

            And how beautiful is the intro? I fell in love the moment I heard the song.

  3. I’ve been madly in love with this series (on audio) for along time. You right it has a little of everything, and I’m loving TV series, although I’m always nervous about them screwing it up..LOL
    Great review Jonetta 🙂

    • Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

      Thanks, Lupdilup! I think I first considered the audio format because of you.

      I’m confident they won’t screw up the TV series as the director seems so fascinated with the story and the historical era. I’m in love with it:)

  4. I am doing a very slow re-read of this right now (I read one or two chapters a week). This is a book that I have always loved. The characters are rich and when I describe it to people I always say it is a Time Travel adventure with a touch of romance and not a time travel romance. It really does have a great balance of elements!

  5. I just finished reading it weeks ago, and I had a love and hate relationship with the book. I didn’t like all the historical info stuff. And I went from loving it from hating it constantly. For me it just wasn’t my thing, but I did love different things about the book. But I am still glad I read it. I would constantly be staring at that book until I picked it up. Haha. I seem to be enjoying the tv series more.

    • Glad you tried and are enjoying the TV series. That might work better in handling the historical aspect (see it versus having it described). I’m a historical fiction fan so it’s my thing.

  6. Since I’m not a huge historical fan I’ve passed on this series. I have book 1 on my Nook when it was free a year or two ago.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this one. I’m so far behind on book and my TBR list keeps getting longer, makes it hard to want to put such long books on the list. I’ve only watched the first episode, because I don’t have Starz. I’m going to see if I can get the audio before season one is on Netflix (I really hope they pick it up).

  8. I’ve been avoiding this series because of the size of the books, but I’ve decided to make reading the series one of my 2015 reading goals 🙂

    • I let the size stop me for almost two years and now I’m hooked. I switched to the audiobook format with the third book and loved it even more. Hope you start in 2015!