Review: Outlander

Title: Outlander (Outlander #1) 10964-1

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ★★★1/2

Provided Synopsis: 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 Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life…and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Review: Outlander had been a member of my TBR pile for quite some time, and it was the imminent arrival of the television show that finally prompted me to give this lengthy book some time. As for what I thought of it? Here we go…

In terms of historical fiction, I thought these elements of the story were particularly strong. I can in no way claim to be heavily educated on the Scottish Highlands of the eighteenth century, but I certainly feel that I have learned a great deal about this time and place. I became acquainted with Scottish clans and how they lived, what they would fight for, and what they esteemed above all else. For Scottish characters, their dialogue would be written precisely as it would be spoken. At first this manner of speech caught me off guard, but once I became familiar with the cadence of the words a new dimension was added to the characters. All of the characters in this book came to have distinct voices in my head due to this, especially Jamie.

Gabaldon’s prose is also very good in terms of description. I could easily envision the numerous characters and settings, along with the senses that accumulate to form the complete picture of where Claire and Jamie would travel to and whom they would meet. As a lover of historical fiction, these elements were my favorite part of this book, particularly in the case of a witch trial that is held about midway through. The trial presented so much action, emotion, and detail to sweep me away.

Not everything in this book was capable of securing my interests, however. While there were numerous scenes to pull me in there were also plenty of scenes to bore me to frustration. I understand that every book requires highs and lulls, but when this book dove into those lulls of space then it became difficult to reconcile myself with the length of this story. Could this book have done with a hefty bit of editing? Yes, I think so.

Overall, I would consider Outlander to be an enjoyable read. But please keep in mind that it does require patience. Those with an interest in the historical fiction genre (and fantasy, since Claire does time jump) might take a quicker liking to it, yet I feel as if it could also be a book to grow on any reader as it unravels its tale.

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