Rating: really liked it
Quick question: if this book has a quarter of a million ratings and still maintains an average rating of 4.13, why the hell are the most popular reviews the snarky, mean spirited, one or two star reviews? That doesn't match up at all with what I'd assume would be the case, which is that most people who read this book LOVED IT. Including me.
Please, people. If you enjoy a book, click "like" on the good reviews as well. That's what people see first when they look for reviews on Goodreads...the ones with the most popularity, or "likes". Sad that this amazing book's two most populare (and therefore most visible) reviews are not in keeping with most people's thoughts.
"Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone.
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, 'til our Life shall be Done."
Claire is happily married. She and her husband are visiting Scotland and soaking up the history while indulging in some much needed time alone. One morning, they are witness to a group of women performing a ritual at a nearby stone circle.
"They should have been ridiculous, and perhaps they were. A collection of women in bedsheets, many of them stout and far from agile, parading in circles on top of a hill. but the hair prickled on the back of my neck at the sound of their call.
(The modern witches at the stone circle...spooky and oh, such a good mood setter!!!)
Claire returns to the circle later. I wonder if she felt called to that magical place, as if fate had plans for her and she was simply following her destiny.
The tallest stone of the circle was cleft, with a vertical split dividing the two massive pieces..."
Without warning, and for no apparent reason, Claire is whisked back to the year 1743.
I could say that my field of vision contracted to a single dark spot, then disappeared altogether, leaving not darkness, but a bright void. I could say that I felt as though I were spinning or as though I were being pulled inside out. All these things are true, yet none of them conveys the sense I had of complete disruption, of being slammed very had against something that wasn't there."
There she meets James Fraser, a man who is as complex as their relationship turns out to be. Claire never stops trying to get back home, but this world of the past and her present is slowly beginning to sink into her. She must now decide between remaining faithful to a man she may never see again, or conceding to the realization that she will forever remain in this time, with this fascinating man who has become her fiercest protector.
It's pure craziness to me how this book can be summed up in a couple of paragraphs. And it's both detrimental and beneficial that a summary simply cannot encompass the sheer scope of heart that is in these pages. I was absolutely unprepared.
Why detrimental? Because the details did become tedious, even as they were adding to the story. The downtime...instead of a time of building anticipation, became a time of hurry up and wait. This is the only reason that I can't give this five stars...because, for a couple hundred pages, I was 'a wee bit' bored. And I hope that my saying this won't keep someone from reading it. I wish that I didn't have to mention it, but in order to be fair and honest, I feel like it's necessary, if only to keep someone's expectations from becoming too high.
And to be totally confusing, it's the details that drag you down into the middle of the eighteenth century, the minor secondary plots that make you live this life for awhile. So I'm not certain that they weren't necessary. I do wish that we got more of Claire dealing with the mundane things, but she just never seems bothered enough with inconveniences to mention them.
I don't want to do much of a character breakdown except for maybe the three big key players in this story.
"You're no verra sensible, Sassenach, but I like ye fine."
Oh boy. I had heard that a lot of people didn't like Claire at first. And to be quite honest, for most of the book I really DID like her. She was fairly steadfast to her husband...although circumstances bieng what they were, it would have been nearly impossible for her to stay that way. This was a fascinating look into what it must have been like for a woman back in those times. Not quite the Dark Ages but boy, they were a far cry from modern women's rights. This was a time of witch burnings and mob mentality. Imagine what it would be like to go back to these times, knowing what we know now, remembering what took place in history, and being scared to death to be female. You're completely at the mercy of the men you are with. Thank goodness Claire stumbled upon Jamie.
Her character did fluctuate for me, for obvious reasons. I had a few minor hiccups with how wishy washy she was at times, and how little she seemed to think about how her actions would affect Jamie. However, (view spoiler)[ I do think that she had no idea how passionately Jamie felt for her until near the very end. So why would she feel the need to constantly spare his feelings and put him first? (hide spoiler)] At some point, she has to think of herself. The time frame in which all of this happens is not exactly conducive to accepting her fate and giving up on her whole life before Scotland. So I felt like I could cut her a break. She has an awful lot to deal with and I feel like she did the best she could. And toward the end...she becomes just as much a hero as Jamie does. You just have to wait for her to build up to this amazing person that she was meant to be.
Yes, I swooned, I gushed, I loooooooved Jamie Fraser! Who wouldn't? Who would admit to it if they didn't? However, he is really not at all what I expected. I like the badass boys, the heroes, the heartbreakers, those men who make you wonder if they will ever be tamed. I like men on the edge of good and evil, the ones that you are always unsure of. But there's just something about the nice guy, the man who...as soon as you meet him, you know his heart is pure and good. There are no questions with regards to Jamie about his purity of character. He's the epitome of good. He's a great mix of beta male (somewhat in the background, not horribly outspoken, usually backup for the leaders) and alpha male (leader, loud and proud, tends to be bossy and pushy.) I expected Jamie to be a more stand out guy but honestly, it was all in the “knowing” of Jamie that made me fall for him. He is one of the most honorable, strong minded, tender, loyal and devoted fictional men I've ever, ever read about. As Jamie himself puts it, he ”I havena the taste for power at the cost of other men's blood.” All of these romance heroes that we read about...the Dukes and Lords and Lairds and such...all of the battles and death and heartache...they're entitled to their place in society, to revel in their own sense of power and self-righteousness. Jamie just wants peace, a home, his wife, and a good life. Simple but so powerful. If only more people felt that way, if only more men were heroes because of the battles they didn't fight.
Claire tending to Jamie's shoulder...
"Ye need not be scairt of me," he said softly. "Nor of anyone here, so long as I'm with ye."
That is not to say that he was perfect. One big, huge point of contention for me was (view spoiler)[ when he beats Claire after she tries to find the stone circle and instead ends up getting captured. I don't care what year it is, That's never right. To beat her until she can't sleep, can't sit down, and then allow his men to make fun of her for days afterward while she is healing... (hide spoiler)]this is one of the more cruel things that I've ever forgiven a hero for. I suppose if I'm going to forgive, it may as well be James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.
I truly think that he is not only one of the most vile, heartless, disgusting, noxious, EVIL villains that I've ever met, he is also, oddly, an object of pity. Not to be mistaken for sympathy. He deserves a slow, torturous, endless agonizing death. His singleminded foxhunt of Jamie is confusing at first and later, every time his name is mentioned, I literally became filled with rage. I'm one of those that cried when I'm angry and I can't even tell you how hard I cried. Enough that I couldn't read any more. I had to calm down first.
Poor Jamie :(
Here is my reaction, of which I typed in the buddy read I was taking part in after I read the specific part that made me hate...literally hate Randall. Do not read this if you don't want a huge spoiler. You've been warned!!82%
(view spoiler)[ Son of a fucking bitch!!! Not only did Jamie get raped but we don't even get to see that evil, sadistic ass hole suffer? I'm so mad right now. So fucking mad. And what the hell was all the wolf bullshit? Why even put that in there? It has no bearing on the story except to draw out the part where Jamie is once again flogged...tortured, burned, beat, raped. So I say again...what the fuck? I'm a vindictive bitch. I want payback. That fucker needs to suffer. Jamie needs to look him in the eye while he guts him. How fucking anticlimactic to give him an easy out. I am just livid. I'm so pissed off I'm crying (hide spoiler)]
Yeah, suffice it to say that I really hope we get more of Randall and that Ms. Gabaldon feels the black rage that I felt toward him. I hope, I hope, I hope. Even rereading my reaction makes my blood pressure rise.
Yes, this is a great historical fiction novel but Jamie and Claire..their love, their devotion to each other is what makes this story epic. You just can't get around that fact. This is a love story. And so much more. I was so conflicted from the position that both Claire and Jaime were put in. What is right and wrong here? Claire loves her husband. But here she is, in this impossible situation, of which she can confide in no one. Not a single person. And so she goes first with her gut. Then with her head, and finally, FINALLY with her heart.
"Does it ever stop, Claire? The wanting?"
"You're mine, mo duinne," he said softly, pressing himself into my depths. "Mine alone, now and forever. Mine, whether ye will it or no." I pulled against his grip, and sucked in my breath with a faint "ah" as he pressed even deeper.
"Aye, I mean to use ye hard, my Sassenach," he whispered. "I want to own you, to possess you, body and soul." I struggled slightly and he pressed me down, hammering me, a solid, inexorable pounding that reached my womb with each stroke. "I mean to make ye call me 'Master," Sassenach." His soft voice was a threat of revenge for the agonies of the last minutes. "I mean to make you mine."
"Oh, aye, Sassenach...I am your master...and you're mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own."
With the gorgeous backdrop of Scotland, the descriptions alone, and the way the dialogue forces you to sink into the setting is worth the entire read.
I'm beyond happy that I finally started this series. I'm trying to pace myself while reading the next stories, as I feel the greatness in ma bones. This book itself was so amazing, I can't imagine what's in store for me. There were a few hints...very, very tiny hints in this book of some strange happenings with regards to the time travel aspect. Things always get convoluted when it comes to the whole switching time thing. What came first, Claire in real time or Claire in 1743? What will she change by going back and messing around with her ancestors, or more so her husband's ancestors? I can't wait to find out.
Rating: it was ok
A special note to those who say my review stopped them from reading this book: No no no! Read it! I actually reread the whole series last summer and enjoyed it immensely. Just read it for what it is: ludicrous, well-written, humorous, delicious TRASH. Just don't expect it to be the most brilliant novel ever written and you'll be fine.
How To Commit Adultery Without Being a Cheap Slutty Whore: A Q&A by Diana Gabaldon
Q: I love my husband but I'm feeling kind of restless. But adultery is wrong. So what do I do?
A: Easy! Go back in time!
Q: What do you mean, Ms. Gabaldon?
A: If you go back in time, your husband hasn't been born yet. So you can have wild and crazy S&M sex with impunity.
Q: But won't I still be married to him?
A: Aren't you listening? He hasn't been BORN yet. So you aren't married! But if you are really being such a stickler, then just have someone force you to get married to someone else.
Q: But, but, no one can force me to get married against my will!
A: Okay, let me lay it out for you: You're really hot for this sexy warrior barbarian guy, right? I know this, because you stop thinking about your husband about 24 hours after you've been dropped in this guy's arms. So you get in this situation where some obscure tribal law insists you have to get married, make a little protest, sign some papers, and voila!
Q: But that doesn't mean I have to sleep with him.
A: Oh but you do, because some random dude insists that you have to. Don't worry, the sex will be great even though he's a 23 year old virgin. So you see, you HAVE to do it, so it's okay.
Q; But isn't it a sin?
A: Fine, find a priest at the end of the book to absolve you, whatever. And anyway, it's okay because your husband basically told you it was okay, right before you were whisked back in time. Seriously, go for it. When else will you get the chance? You've been married for years. You deserve a little hot and heavy barbarian action.
Q: So what's this hot barbarian guy like?
A: Well, watch out, because he loves to reminisce about how his dad used to beat him and how wonderful that was. And he really gets off on beating you, but it's just the once. Oh, and it seems that he wants you so badly he can't restrain from ramming you repeatedly with his male member while telling you how much he can't restrain himself and that gets seriously annoying after the twentieth time. But otherwise, it's all good.
Q: Anything else I should be aware of?
A: Surprise! Buttsex! But not for you, so it's okay.
Oddly, I'm going to read the next one in the series. Because I'm bizarrely fascinated. It's like a train wreck.
Someone in the comments said I should copy this into the review, so here you go:
Claire: I love my husband! I love sex!
Frank: But it's okay if you have sex with someone else, in certain circumstances.
Standing Stones: SUCK! Ha ha, you're in another time!
The Anti-Frank: Ooooh, I think I will rape you.
Clansmen: Scots to the rescue! Here, meet Jamie and his manly manhood.
Jamie: Och, aye, I'm a tough laddie. And I'm going to kill the Anti-Frank for beating the shit outta of me and raping my sister.
Claire: Ooooh, he's cute. Hey, wasn't I married?
Dougal: Ye have to marry the laddie to get away from the Anti-Frank.
Dougal: And ye have to have sex wit' him.
Claire: Mmmmm.... but.... well, okay.
Jamie: I'm a virgin. Oooh, but I love sticking my manhood in ye. It's like a sacrament and all.
Claire: I should get back to Frank, I think I will take this opportunity to run away... I guess... sort of... meh.
The Anti-Frank: Ha ha! Found you. Now to rape you!
Jamie: Och, that's my wee lassie. First I'm going to rescue her, then I'm going to beat her for disobeying me. And then I'm going to tell her about how me Da beat me and how much I liked it.
Jealous wench: The village witch is looking for you.
Villagers: She's a witch! Burn her!
Jamie: Over my dead body!
Claire: Honey, I have something to tell you. I'm not a witch but...
Jamie: Ye must go back!
Claire: I can't. I long for your manhood too much. It's a manhood like no other.
The Anti-Frank: I too long for your manhood. I think I will bugger you right after I crush your hand with a hammer. But, I love you. You remind me of my dead brother. Here's some grease.
Jamie: Ouch. Oooh, but that feels sort of good. Och, I'm so ashamed.
Claire: We must rescue Jamie! Send in the cows!
Jamie: OCH! Me hand! Just let me die!
Claire: Never! Let's go to France.
Jamie: Och, aye lassie, I feel much better now.
Father Anselm: God says it's okay that you're a bigamist.
Claire: Awesome. Time to use my foreknowledge of past events for good!
Diana Gabaldon: The sequel will be 900 pages.
Rating: really liked it
Yes! I read this. I admit it! You caught me! Not only that... I loved it. It is a double sin I will likely have to one day repent for by reading piles of Dostoyevsky while I tear out my hair. In any case. Right, once again into the breach to defend myself!
This book is incredibly long. It's just a fact. All of them are. But they go by so incredibly fast. By the time I got to the third one? I read it in three days. The pages just keep turning. I read at double speed I was so engrossed in the story. And I must admit that usually I hate time travel romances (... I mean.. not that I have any experience trying them before... never...) but this one is not even about that. Or if it is, it just makes it better.
Also? There is a pile of historical information in this text. It deals with the Bonnie Prince Charlie uprising, and the rest of the books go on to deal with the American colonies and the Revolution by the time that they're done. It's not just about the romance. It's about medical treatment, what horrid things Scottish people ate, the reality of what people would have suffered through. Which is in some cases I think a direct indictment of the Scottish Highlander bodice-rippers in which everyone is shining and perfect and with awfully clean white teeth. I'd say this is more historical fiction than romance.
But fine, let's deal with the romance. Yes. There is a lot of sex. However, I found it to also be deeply intimate and true, brutal, and real. Claire and Jamie, while apart, are deeply attractive and sympathetic characters with a good deal of nobilty about them. Throw them together in love? And they are beautifully frail, selfish, angry, flawed. I love that statement. I really find them so incredibly touching.
So there. It's not just a romance novel. I stick my tongue out oh so maturely at the readers of this review.
Rating: it was amazing
I remember my friend in college ( 1992ish ) coming out of her room holding a book to her chest and saying " YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK". She said it was a time-travel, romance book set in post world war II Scotland and mid 18th century Scotland.
Being as I was a 24 year old stoner and a 5th year college student, Lord of the Rings was more up my alley and I told her I'd "put it on my list"!! Fast forward to 2009, I'm on my usual Saturday morning sojourn to Barnes and Noble and I come across "Outlander" in the fiction section. As I am currently without any books to read and nothing catching my interest, I decide to finally give it a try.......... All I can say is " I cannot believe I wasted almost 20 years of my life without reading this book!"
I won't go into the plot as it's already been covered, but, Holy Shit, this is one fantastic book! You've got adventure, drama, history, fantasy and romance. Easily the best romantic story line I've ever read and literally the most charismatic, appealing male lead I've seen. I've since read the whole series and love it even more today. If you've ever read a book and literally gotten so sucked in that you can't possibly read fast enough, then you know what I'm talking about.....Oh, and Jamie Fraser is a God!
I've been an avid reader since I was 8 and Jamie is without a doubt my most beloved. Whomever your favorite male protagonist is I can promise you that no one compares to Jamie, no one! Read on, GR friends, this series is epic and you won't regret it!!!
P.S. ( circa Fall-2013.....) I usually don't care if someone does not like a book that I love. Everyone's tastes are different. That being said..... I find if someone says something negative about Outlander I have an almost visceral reaction and want to stab them with a fork. So if you're a hater you better watch yourself........and seriously? What's wrong with you?
Rating: it was amazing
WHATTTT HOW DID I NOT MARK THIS MAGNIFICENT CREATION OF A NOVEL AS READ BEFORE???
I read this book 2 years ago and it has captured my heart and is my favorite book of all time <3
Rating: it was amazing
This book is my love, you all know this. It deserves an infinite amount of stars, too bad Goodreads only allows 5!
Check out my review on YouTube here:
Rating: did not like it
I gave up on this book because I was sustaining permanent damage from reading it and I was afraid I'd start hitting back. And it's a borrowed copy, so that wouldn't be cool.
In fairness, I should say there's a lot of good writing here. I really enjoyed the beginning chapters. They even kind of cracked me up, because I have friends who love genealogy and their husbands always get that look when they start talking about it and that's exactly how I imagined Claire looking when her husband Frank started droning on and on about his ancestors.
And Claire is a nurse, which is a really good transportable skill if you're going to be thrown back in time which it turns out Claire is. (Sorry. Spoiler alert.) Can you imagine if you were one of those Nerds On Wheels computer repair people and you got sent to eighteenth-century Scotland? You'd be totally screwed.
But Claire's skills come in handy without seeming out of place. A woman who's a dab hand at healing is always welcome in Olden Tymes, so Claire is able to land on her feet and kind of get a job once she figures out what happened to her and comes to terms with it.
Which is pretty much immediately. Which is when the book started to lose me. There's, like, no culture shock whatsoever. She gets knocked back two hundred years or so. She goes, "WHOA. What the flimminy?" She starts being The Lady To Go To With Your Eighteenth-Century Scottish Boo-Boos. That's it.
There are a few mentions of things like how shoes fit differently back then and anachronistic language, but there's no sense of the kind of thing a person from the future would be startled by. Not the food, not the weird underwear, nothing. Claire just settles in and starts being the resident nurse at a castle. She keeps half an eye out for a chance to get to the place that can take her back to the future, but it has all the deep emotional urgency that I feel when I really should stop by the grocery store on the way home but it won't kill anybody if I go tomorrow instead. Like, whatevs.
Still, there was plenty to keep me interested. Like – leeches! The stuff about leeches was cool. And the info about healing herbs. And that kid getting his ear hammered to a board because he was caught stealing.
Really, this book would have worked fine for me if it hadn't been for what everybody else seems to love about it, which is the Romantic Interest. Which still would have been fine, even with the whole SHE'S MARRIED ALREADY thingy.
But, okay – let's say that she has to marry that guy. They aren't in love when they get married and so the whole point of the book is to watch their relationship develop, while Claire struggles with guilt and fear and thoughts of how her real husband must be worrying about her and how the heck does time-travel work in this book and WHY IS SHE JUST ASSUMING THAT TIME IS GOING BY IN THE FUTURE AT THE SAME RATE IT IS FOR HER? WHY, I ASK YOU?
(Sorry. I'm a minor-league nerd, and this part really bugged me.)
So what I just described would have been a book I could read and enjoy, or at least read and not scream in pain. But apparently someone gave Diana Gabaldon the creepiest piece of writing advice EVER, and it was this:
"Listen – you know how if you're cooking and you're worried it's not turning out very well, just add bacon if it's savory and chocolate chips if it's sweet and everybody'll love it? Well, if you're working on your first novel and you don't know what to have happen next, just throw in some rape! Or attempted rape! Works like a charm!"
She follows this advice to the letter, and I'm sorry but I have to go home now.
I managed to read the "she disobeys him so he beats her with his belt" scene. I almost punched the book right in the face, but as I said, it's a friend's copy so I had to be nice.
Then I managed to get through the "she forgives him for the beating, like, the next freakin' day" scene. I started fantasizing about this book getting stuck in the elevator of a burning building, but I was able to hold on and keep going.
Then there was the scene where Big Kilted Oaf – I mean, Jamie – starts laughing about the whole beating thing and reminiscing about how hot she looked when he was holding her down beating the crap out of her and she forgives him for that, too. Like, instantly. And I'm all, "WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE?"
And still I staggered on. Heaven only knows why.
And how did the author reward me for my perseverance? What is this book all about? What's the recurring literary theme?
Rape. Attempted rape. More attempted rape. Marital rape. A little more marital rape. Conversations about rape. GIGGLING during conversations about rape.
And I'm all, "I'M OUT OF HERE AND I DON'T CARE HOW MANY OF MY FRIENDS HATE ME."
I read 444 pages in a row, plus I skimmed a lot of the rest of it including the creepiest, rapiest Chekhov's gun I've ever seen fired. Do NOT tell me I didn't give this book a fair chance. I TOTALLY DID.
In case you need proof, here's a list of all the things I learned about rape from Outlander.
1. It's a bummer for the woman involved, but save your sympathy for her brother. (Assuming you have any emotional response at all, which you won't if you're Claire.)
Jamie tells Claire about his sister Jenny being raped by a dastardly redcoat. He has a good chuckle talking about how Jenny punches and kicks her attacker. She isn't able to hold him off forever, though. And Jamie gets flogged for trying to defend her.
"I'm sorry. It must have been terrible for you."
It is terrible for Jamie to have his sister "dishonor herself wi' such scum." (Nice.) So terrible that he can't bring himself to go back home to her when he gets out of prison, and "see her again, after what happened." She's impregnated by the rape. Left on her own both emotionally and financially, she is forced to become the mistress of another English soldier. Jamie finally sends her what money he can, but can't bring himself to write to her. Because, you know, "what could I say?"
(Really -- how could I give up on this book when the main character is so sympathetic?)
2. Rape can lead to comically inaccurate ideas about how people do "the nasty!"
After Jamie and Claire consummate their marriage, Jamie confesses that he "didna realize that ye did it face to face. I thought ye must do it the back way, like; like horses, ye know." Claire tries to keep a straight face as she asks him why on earth he thought that.
"I saw a man take a woman plain, once, out in the open. But that...well, it was a rape, was what it was, and he took her from the back. It made some impression on me, and as I say, it's just the idea stuck."
So of course Claire flips out and asks him what the heck that was all about. Who was it? Why was he witness to a rape "out in the open"? Was he able to help the woman? What happened to her?
Oh. Wait. This is Claire the Emotionless. She doesn't ask him anything, and he doesn't say anything else on the subject. Instead, they cuddle and talk about how much fun what they just did was.
Because a story about rape out in the open is just the kind of pillow talk a woman wants to hear when she's relaxing after a nice bout of bigamy.
I mentioned I loved this book, right? I didn't? Good.
3. Nearly getting raped turns you on for Mr. Right!
Jamie and Claire are off on their own in the woods for a spot of marital bliss when they're set upon by highwaymen. Claire is nearly raped, but manages to kill her assailant. Yes, she was a nurse during World War II, but I think there's a difference between witnessing violence and inflicting it yourself. She kills the guy in the nick of time. He's on top of her, so she undoubtedly gets his blood all over her. Meanwhile, Jamie manages to dispatch the other two guys.
And then Claire flips out about the fact that she was just attacked, and she had to kill a guy, and she had to kill a guy at close quarters with a knife.
Oh. Wait. This is Claire. She has no response to any of this, now or later.
Well, she does have one response:
When I put my hands on his shoulders, he pulled me hard against his chest with a sound midway between a groan and a sob.
We took each other then, in a savage, urgent silence, thrusting fiercely and finishing within moments.
If your marital love life has been a bit blah lately, why not get attacked and then kill the guy? It'll spice things right up!
4. It's not rape if it's your husband and he promises he'll hurry...
"Jamie! Not here!" I said, squirming away and pushing my skirt down again.
"Are ye tired, Sassenach?" he asked with concern. "Dinna worry, I won't take long."
He took a firm grip on my shoulders with both hands.
"Be quiet, Sassenach," he said with authority. "It isna going to take verra long."
I gather it's especially not rape if your husband has an ethnic-slur nickname for you. He should use this at least three times a page. (Yes, "Sassenach" is derogatory. It'd be like if you were white and your husband called you his little gringo. Although that would actually be kind of funny if he's white, too. I think I want to get my husband to start calling me that now. But I digress.)
5. ...or if it's your husband and he just really, really wants it.
Claire is saying no, and no again. She's still in pain from the last time they did it, because he didn't take no for an answer even when she told him quite honestly he was hurting her.
So how does our romantic lead respond?
James Fraser was not a man to take no for an answer. ...Gentle he would be, denied he would not.
I quoted that last line to my husband, and he got the same look on his face that I had on mine all through a two-day bout with food poisoning.
If this book works for you, fine. I'm not here to judge. I'm just asking that you understand how completely creeped out I was by all this, and not tell me I didn't give it a fair chance. I did. I really hate not finishing a book once I start it, but I just couldn't stand it any more.
Rating: liked it
(Ok, first off, there are going to be minor spoilers/hints in this review…read at your own risk, although I’ll try not to reveal too much.)
Outlander is a damn good book. Sure, the book has a blue fake leather cover, costs four bucks, and screams “spinning rack at the airport bookstore”. I approached the text with suspicion but found myself invested in the language and storyline within the first hundred pages. Here’s why:
TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT OUTLANDER
1. The characterizations of Jamie and Claire, along with a few other less important figures, are stellar. Ms. G. goes out of her way to create rich, deep personalities. If you thought Jamie was only going to be a caricature of romantic manhood, you’d be wrong. If you thought Claire was going to be a plucky damsel in distress, you’re wrong.
2. As I’ve said before, Ms. G. did her research. Her sense of detail, whether discussing plants or historical elements intrinsic to the plant, is admirable.
3. There are a few truly funny passages in the book. Claire’s interactions with men who try to tell her what to do, and her sharp tongue, are often quite entertaining.
4. There are a few very, um, stimulating parts in Outlander. You know what I mean, those of you who have the reached the cave scene and a few others earlier in the book.
5. Ms. G. displays strong insight in trust and relationships. The fights between Claire and Jamie seem real and at times harrowing. Jamie’s recovery near the end of the book and his description of his trials are nothing short of terrifying. She doesn’t spare her reader or the characters tough questions and emotional pain. Outlander is not an easy read.
6. The plot moves quickly. I found myself wanting to cheat and page ahead to find out what was going to happen. This book screams screenplay. Why is it not a movie?
7. Ms. G. writes well. I know that sounds trite, but she structures her sentences intelligently and reading rarely dragged. I knocked out 850 pages in three busy weeks but looked forward to picking up the book after the house grew quiet.
8. John Randall and the witch (can’t remember her name, Ginnie or something) were both well-drawn. Randall in particular fascinated me. Villains are usually less complicated than Mr. Randall.
9. The “time travel” facet of the book, as Kirk pointed out, is handled very well and not overused in a sensationalistic manner.
10. Outlander raises some fascinating ethical questions. I could see it as a good book club book. Should Claire get married? Did she put herself in unreasonable danger and some of her friends in danger in turn? What’s up with Randall? Those types of questions.
THREE THINGS I THOUGHT OUTLANDER COULD DO BETTER
1. There were times when I felt Ms. G. was setting up the sequel a bit too much. You know when you’re watching a movie and you can tell some plot points aren’t going to get resolved until the next one? That feeling? I could feel that a couple times.
2. The prison and Lollybrook (sp?) scenes dragged a bit. Outlander really could have been two books.
3. I wasn’t comfortable with some of the religious discussion during Jamie’s recovery. I’m not sure why Ms. G. put the priest in and the conversation in which Claire’s actions are rationalized. I didn’t think that was necessary.
Ok, I have a question. Why is the quality of Outlander so controversial? It’s a flat-out good book. Is it because Outlander is aimed, it seems, primarily at women? Is it the huge, smelly pile of Fabio-covered romance novels tainting Ms. G.’s work? I swear, and I think I’ve said this before, market this book differently and you’ve got a respected hit on your hands rather than a less-respected novel that sold a zillion copies but appears to be of lesser quality than it is (thanks, fake leather cover!). Don’t be afraid of Outlander. It’s a solid adventure story with decent psychological insight and some good sex scenes. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Take the risk. Don’t be a wuss.
Rating: really liked it
I wanted to write a better review for this book to coincide with the release of the new TV series, where Jamie actually does look pretty hot...
Back when I read this as a wee lass (okay, like, three years ago), there weren't quite as many interesting interpretations of the novel going on. I remember reading a bunch of reviews that either sold it as sophisticated, well-researched historical fiction, or a trashy kilt-wearing romance full of sex, violence and violent sex. In my opinion, neither is too far from the truth.
I'm going to be honest: I never finished the series. And I'm starting to think that it's likely I never will. But this means nothing. I thoroughly enjoyed the first four books, which equates to several thousand pages of enjoyment. They are huge, time-consuming volumes, which is why starting one is such a huge commitment and why I think the remaining books may stay forever unread. But I still think Outlander, at least, is worth reading.
This book is an entertaining, fast-paced romp through 1783 and has numerous close encounters with torture, sexual assault, witch trials and a whole lot of bloodshed. I'm not going to sell you some spiel about historical accuracy - I don't have a damn clue what Scotland was really like in the 18th century - but I can promise that it's hard to avoid being dragged in and devoured by this novel that is as gruesomely violent as it is exquisitely romantic.
Oh, and about that... this book tells the story of Claire Randall who finds herself suddenly transported back a couple hundred years and lands amid the warfare and dangers of Scottish clan life. In these strange circumstances, she meets Jamie. Readers often end up completely divided over Jamie because, although he is sweet and lovable for the majority of the novel, there is one disturbing scene that saddens and enrages any sane 21st-Century reader, including me (though not sure about the sane).
So I will spoil that one thing for you if you like (it's not a major spoiler)... (view spoiler)[there is one scene of domestic violence where Jamie beats Claire with a belt. I am in no way trying to say this act of violence was a good thing or acceptable; it was a sign of the kind of times people lived in back then (sucky times). But I was able to forgive Jamie when viewing the incident within the historical context. I know you're probably thinking "how the fuck is that possible?"... well, thing is, if Claire had been a man and she'd done what she did, she would have been flogged to within an inch of her life. As they didn't believe in doing that to women, her punishment was milder and had to be carried out by her husband. Believe me, I raged too. But I was still able to appreciate the rest of the novel. (hide spoiler)]
I always found Gabaldon's characters delightfully complex and well-developed. Maybe not everyone feels the same about Claire and Jamie, but I think one of the signs of a great writer is when they can really test my love for their characters, make them do the worst kind of things and still have me angsting over whether or not they would be okay in the end. And I cared for Claire and Jamie. They're one of the few literary couples that I have completely fallen in love with and cared about.
I only hope the TV series is just as good.
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Rating: did not like it
WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK. WHAT. THE. FUCK.
AS IN, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS RAPEY, ABUSE-APOLOGIST BULLSHITERY? I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M MORE UPSET ABOUT, THAT IT'S IN HERE, THAT I ACTUALLY LIKED THIS FUCKING DOUCHECOPTER AT FIRST, OR THAT I'M SUPPOSED TO JUST "GET OVER IT" LIKE HIS WIFE DOES, VALIDATE HIS ABUSE, LIKE HIS WIFE DOES, AND IMMEDIATELY FORGIVE HIM, LIKE HIS WIFE DOES.
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Rating: did not like it
Contains SPOILERS ---
I was lying in a hospital bed with my leg broken, and once the library trolley came for a round of 'books, anyone?', my hand was in the air in no time.
Too late did the librarian notice the foreign literature on my bedside table and with a distraught expression try to recover 'Outlander';I said firmly: 'Oh no, Madam, I'll read that.'. Just enough time left for her to make up with a tome of controversial French literature on the genocide in Ruanda...
But as I'd said: my first mission was 'Outlander'.
Anyway, it could not be that bad, since I'd seen it sold by the local bookclub before.
Ah yes, it could. After some forty pages, my jaw dropped in disbelief, after some hundred pages the case was as good as closed. But then, to tell the truth, Ms Gabaldon's warped morals kept me going.
Because this brave woman has achieved what I never thought could be done: she has fabricated some catholically correct porn.
Let me point that out:
Claire, pretty much a Mary Jane (on the first few pages her lovely -we know it is, curly and unruly, though she claims it is 'not'- hair is described at length, and - did you know she can heal people? Oh yes, and - Did you know she has a spitfire personality, but everybody likes her in spite of that, well not the women, but then, they're either jealous or uptight or both...?) is by some zing of the time-space continuum catapulted back to the Scotland of yore, without her husband (goodlooking, sensitive, a savant), but never mind, she finds some replacement in her husband's *evil* ancestor (looks just like him), who's just as much into Claire, but unfortunately lacks the morals to please and guts to take it up with Ms. Spitfire.
This proves to be helpful in forgetting husband#1, handy, since soon Claire arouses the ardour of a young, proud and good-looking Scotsman, Jamie, who, if a bit on the simple side, is as true as gold, not to mention built like....well yes... and just one twist of fate later, they find themselves exchanging vows.
Note: The *good* never have extra-marital sex in this book, that's for the evil and sluggish.
Surprise upon surprise, actually Jamie is a virgin on their wedding night, but with a few leads, quickly gets into his role: 'Matrimony turns into a sacrament what would otherwise be a sin', or so it goes.
In the following, this sacrament is bestowed upon darling Claire with unnerving frequency, about every two pages, but it only gets really colourful if preceded by conjugal beating - Claire did something bad, Claire has to be punished, yes, she herself aknowledges this in the end, or attempts of strangers (or *evil* husband) to rape her.
Yes, and of course, after Jamie has de facto been raped and tortured by *evil* husband. He's so desolate. Evil husband forced Jamie into actually enjoying the experience. This is not right, Jamie is straight, Jamie is disgusted by himself. But Claire does some sexual healing and re-enactment and 'pouf'! To top this off, in the end Claire learns from a monk that de facto both her marriages are considered valid by the church, since the one with Jamie precedes the one back in the 20th century.
Most distasteful because of the 'wifebeating' episode and the fact that homosexuality is shown as an evil trait adherent to the *evil* guy (some young kid with a bible hung himself because of this, strange enough, female victims of rape are not half as suicidal in this book).
So we repeat:
-No sex without marriage.
-Woman has to obey man. Otherwise she gets into trouble, and he has to punish her.
-Homosexuals among the evil only.
Any questions? had there been the possibility to bestow 0 stars on this concoction..., ah well.
Rating: it was amazing
Reviewed for www.thcreviews.com
I've read that Outlander was originally marketed as a romance novel because the publisher didn't know what else to do with it, but this book is no ordinary romance novel. It doesn't follow any typical romance formula and is a real genre bender that doesn't fit neatly into any one category. Outlander has a swoon-worthy hero and dozens of truly romantic scenes that should be sufficient to satisfy even the most discriminating romance reader, while it's time travel aspect and a few references to witches and fairies should be of interest to readers of fantasy and paranormal stories. At it's heart though Outlander is a historical novel rife with details of 18th century life in the Scottish Highlands both inside and outside a castle or large estate. It also recounts some of the events leading up to the Jacobite Pretender's Uprising of 1745. Diana Gabaldon is an amazing writer who delves deep into her character's lives and the history surrounding them, painting an extraordinary picture that truly transports the reader to another time and place.
Claire is an incredibly strong heroine, who can sometimes be a bit brash and sassy, but deep down she is a kind and caring person at heart. She adapts amazingly well to a new time and place, much better than most people ever would if faced with the dilemma she was. Claire is a very intelligent woman who uses every ounce of knowledge at her disposal to reverse her predicament, while helping others, especially with their medical needs, and bringing a much needed modern perspective to ancient methods. She somehow finds the courage to made difficult choices in an era when choices were sometimes few or non-existent, especially for women, and to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Claire is stubborn and persistent even in the face of nearly impossible odds. Best of all she is a pillar of strength to her beloved Jamie as much as he is to her, and she has a powerful underlying passion that matches his own for her.
Jamie, in my opinion, is the best romantic hero ever to be penned by an author. He exhibits both physical and mental strength, as well as a strength of character, that go above and beyond any ordinary romantic hero. His word is his honor, and his commitment to that honor is moving beyond words. If only there were more men in reality who could be so easily trusted and taken at their word. Jamie shows a deep respect, not just for Claire, but for all the women with whom he comes in contact, a true gentleman in every sense of the word. On the outside, Jamie is tough as nails, enduring more physical pain than any one person should ever be expected to, while on the inside, he is kind, gentle and sensitive, often instinctively knowing things that others don't. He is thoroughly intelligent and well-educated and often beautifully poetic in his speech. He is lighthearted and self-deprecating, never taking himself too seriously. I loved the way he was always teasing Claire. Jamie is simply a wonderful character, a man who loves selflessly and with his whole being.
There is much to enjoy about this book. Together, Jamie and Claire make a formidable couple, and it is obvious from the outset that they are soulmates. Their absolute trust in each other, basically from the moment they meet, is in and of itself, romance at it's finest. There are no contrived misunderstandings between them, only naked honesty, which brings an openness and vulnerability to both characters that is breathtaking. I love the way the author creates a beautiful friendship between these two characters before they end up at the altar and of course then become lovers. What's even better though is how that friendship continues to blossom and grow deeper and deeper even after they are married. The intimacy level of these two characters is something I rarely see in a novel, and most of it has little or nothing to do with sexual interludes. During the times when Jamie and Claire were apart even for short periods of time, I simply couldn't wait for them to be reunited, as the two of them together absolutely electrify the pages. All the secondary characters are extremely well-crafted and surprisingly well fleshed out, even those who play only minor parts. The setting is beautifully rendered as well, almost becoming a character unto itself. The time travel aspect adds an extended element of intrigue, and Ms. Gabaldon has certainly taken the time to think through the ramifications of such a feat if it were indeed possible. Every scene simply adds to the richness of detail in the book, and there is nothing that I felt was excess. The author's care in seamlessly weaving all of the elements together is evident all throughout the book.
While there are many things to love about this story, there were a few events that bothered me just a bit. There was a scene in which Jamie beats Claire with his sword belt for disobedience. The scene in and of itself actually did not bother me much, because I fully understood his reasons for doing so and he later took a vow never to do it again. What did bother me was his admission that he enjoyed it. The admission was made in a fairly lighthearted manner. In light of that, I suppose it might have been meant as humorous, but perhaps it was too subtle for me to fully appreciate. Even so, I might not have thought much of it except for the fact that the villain in this story is a brutal sadist. For that reason, I found myself a bit annoyed at having the hero of the story exhibit even a hint of such a tendency. There were also a couple of scenes of what I would term rather intense and rough lovemaking, one of which began with Jamie behaving in a dominant manner, and neither of which were quite to my taste. They just seemed a bit out of character for Jamie, who up to this point, and following, was always a gentle and considerate though passionate lover. I will allow though for the fact that Jamie apologized for the first incident and admitted equality after the second. Finally, there was a scene in which Jamie related a prior incident with a secondary character in his youth, which by today's standards would have been nothing short of an act of child molestation against him, but which was treated rather casually by all involved. I wanted to reconcile this in a historical perspective, but as hard as I tried, I simply couldn't. I also feel compelled to warn sensitive readers that there is an incidence of brutal sexual violence near the end of the book. It is not played out in real-time, but instead is related a bit at a time through dialog and implication, but still is immensely palpable in the intensity of it's aftereffects on the psyche of the character who was the victim. I'm not usually overly squeamish about such things, but I have to admit to having some difficulty reading these passages. More than once, they brought tears to my eyes.
In spite of the things I have mentioned though, Outlander is still by far one of the best books I have ever read. I have to give Ms. Gabaldon extra points for all of her attention to details. It is a joy to read such an intelligently-written and meticulously-researched novel that is so rich in detail. It went far beyond my expectations for a debut novel for any author. It even sparked my interest in learning more about the time and place that is depicted in it. Outlander is the type of book that is so engrossing and compelling that it makes one want to read straight through without ever putting it down, though it's epic length makes that somewhat unfeasible. This was my second reading of the book, and it certainly won't be my last. It has a earned a permanent place on my keeper shelf along with it's sequels Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes all of which continue Jamie and Claire's story.
Rating: it was amazing
This series changed my life. I cannot even begin to go into the details of how much I fell in love with the main characters: Claire Beauchamp and Jamie Fraser. The love story between these two beautifully written characters actually transcends time and logic. Their devotion, respect and soul-reaching love was one of beauty and even awe inspiring. Theirs is a long and beautiful historic journey together reaching limits and boundaries of both heartwarming depth and gut-wrenching tragedy. Not to be cryptic, it's just that this indescribable story is meant to be told through the words of the brilliant author, Diana Gabaldon.
Fyi...this is an incredibly long series, with 7 books published, (most average 1,000 pages), with an 8th book due in 2014. It's a commitment to say the least, but very worth the absolute loveliness that is Gabaldon's brilliant and stunning love story. My words will never do this series justice.
Rating: did not like it
Man, after the pitch I've heard about this book from basically every (female) reader I've ever met, I was expecting something that was NOT THIS. Fairly offensive, needlessly graphic, and smutty in that skeevy way, rather than the hot way. At one point, Jamie punishes Claire for disobeying him by literally spanking her - which was treated as perfectly understandable, and was quickly dismissed. I know that I cringed throughout the entire thing, and found it hard to believe that any relatively modern woman would have put up with it, especially as Claire is supposed to be extremely well educated, capable and professional. I honestly find it hard to believe that there's five more books of this, and that people read them.
That said, I have read worse romance books, but the fact that Gabaldon dragged the novel out across nearly 900 pages just makes me cranky. UGH.
Rating: really liked it
Outlander is not a book for everyone. I'll put that right out there. If you think you can stomach extreme sexual violence as well as themes of sadism then go ahead. If you can understand good characters doing things in their historical context that would be seen as abuse now, then give it a try.
You won't be disappointed.
Gabaldon has finely crafted a novel that is radically different to the stereotype. This is no average love story. Her research is extensive and flawless; bringing to life a world that is rich and dynamic in detail and character.
Her prose a beautiful and well constructed and the characters. Where do I even start with the characters? They have depth. They're lovable. They're real.
The problem with this book lies in two aspects:
It's pacing. It's fantastic, non-stop drama and action right up to the last 200 pages or so where it trickles down to a grinding halt. The other problem with it is that many people are going to be uncomfortable with some of the things that happen in the book. Remembering the time difference and the culture that the male protagonist comes from is often hard when we judge his actions by today's standards.
But to readers who can over look these things, I highly recommend it as a book that is both incredibly well written, enjoyable and addictive.