I’ve read Outlander many times over the years, and it never fails to be as enjoyable as it was the first time. The one thing I haven’t done, despite reacquainting myself with the novel time and again, is write a review after I’ve finished it. Given that this novel introduced me to my favorite book series—the series that I love more than any other—a review is long overdue, and must be written.
The first time I saw a copy of Outlander, I was in a used book store. The owner had a small area in the store where she offered a small selection of titles that were free of charge. She gave them away because (a) they were slightly damaged, but still readable, or (b) she had too many copies of a certain book, and needed to free up some space. As always, I checked the small stacks of freebies after entering the store. Who can resist a free book, right? It didn’t take long for one book in particular to catch my eye.
A page or two was beginning to loosen. The cover was scratched and creased. The spine was cracked and worn. The clock, and the woman’s face in it, grabbed my attention, made me curious. Closer inspection informed me of the title (what’s an ‘Outlander’? Hmm. Odd title.) and the name of the author (who the heck is Diana Gabaldon?!), but it was the face within the clock that made me read the summary on the back. (Ah… so this Claire Randall traveled in time from 1945 to 1743? AND it’s set in Scotland? Ooo, interesting!) I took a quick peek inside…
“People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet. ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.
Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars.
Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
Usually.” ― Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
and decided the book was mine. My Outlander love affair had begun, though I didn’t know it yet.
One of the things I love about this book is vivid imagery Gabaldon’s words inspire. I could see Craigh na Dun. I could hear the stones screaming. I saw what Claire saw, and it was beautiful—or terrifying.
The attention to historical details throughout the book, both major and minor, is the thing that makes this history buff’s heart soar. When I read historical fiction, I delight in finding the fact amongst the fiction. I don’t find it tedious at all—the more, the better! I’m often inspired to learn more about things I’ve discovered, whether it’s specific event(s) or how people went about their daily lives.
This was my first re-read since I started watching the television series, and it definitely changed the reading experience a bit. I often heard the actors’ voices as I read along, especially on those pieces of dialogue that were used verbatim in the show. (Unexpected, but not distracting, for the most part.) Having recently re-watched season one, the picture in my mind would sometimes shift between what I imagined, and what I had seen on the show. The most interesting way it affected the re-read was that it made me think about the differences between the book and the television series. Whenever I wasn’t reading, I was usually reflecting on those differences—or, in one instance, being surprised to realize a scene I thought was exactly the same as the one in the book… didn’t actually exist in the book—were oftentimes subtle and/or understandable changes. If anything, it left me with an even greater appreciation for the show, for remaining as true as possible to the book, and for making any changes feel as if it had always been written that way. (Not to mention the fantastic acting of everyone in the cast!)
The first time I read this book, I assumed (due to its length) that it would be a a story that ended when I reached the end. The closer I got to that point, the more I dreaded it, because I wasn’t ready for it to end. I felt like I’d been through hell and back again several times with these characters, and it suddenly felt far too soon to have to say goodbye. I couldn’t do it. I was too attached to these characters. The book was too short! (Wait… what?!) I tried not to finish it too quickly, wanting to keep them with me for just a little longer… but as the Borg say, resistance is futile. So I finished the book, read the acknowledgements, and turned to the final page… and saw this:
Don’t miss Dragonfly in Amber coming from Delacorte Press in August 1992.
Pretty sure the whole neighborhood heard me shout “wooooooooooooohoooooooooo!” It was windy that day, so people living a mile away might have heard it, too.
Just like that, I no longer had to say goodbye to Jamie and Claire. I was ecstatic! And since it was long past 1992, all I had to do was go back the book store, buy Dragonfly in Amber, and I could pick up where I left off immediately. Or so I thought.
But that’s a story best saved for my Dragonfly in Amber review.
Books in the series:
About the Book
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.
This eBook includes the full text of the novel plus the following additional content:
• An excerpt from Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber, the second novel in the Outlander series
• An interview with Diana Gabaldon
• An Outlander reader’s guide
About the Author
DIANA GABALDON is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as a collection of Outlander fiction, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall; the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; two works of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion, Volumes 1 and 2; the Outlander graphic novel, The Exile; and The Official Outlander Coloring Book. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.