Pages

26 March 2015

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Book Review


7521794054_0600bb6431_o"Outlander" is a fantasy book by Diana Gabaldon that has recently become very popular (mainly due to the inspired TV series). After watching abookutopia's overtly enthusiastic reaction to the book (as well as that of many other booktubers), I decided it was time to get to know more about it.

As mentioned in my audiobook review, I didn’t actually physically read the book but listened to it, which gave me a slightly different perception over it. But still, I guess that my impressions on the book would be kind of similar.

There's so much to say about Outlander that I don't know where to start from. The protagonist is Claire, an English nurse who is married to Frank, a historian in the 1940s. After Second World War has kept them apart for five years, they go on their honeymoon in Scotland to reunite with each other. One day Claire goes plant-gathering near standing stones on the hill of Craigh na Dun and she is thrown back in time in 1743. Some time after having recovered from the shock, she starts a new life as a sassenach (outlander) in Scotland, between Castle Leoch and Lallybroch, where she'll have to marry the charming warrior Jamie Fraser. The question is, will she ever go back to Frank and her life in the 1940s?

The plot is so good! I think that time travel is a captivating theme and the mix of history and romance works out perfectly. The description of both 1945 and 1743, and generally of the two different centuries is very accurate. There are many descriptions of customs and techniques used in medicine, botany and rites which I found interesting. I cannot say the same for the digressions on the wars between Scottish clans and families. There are so many names and characters that sometimes I had to just re-listen or go and read the detailed summary of the book (shmoop.com offers a fun and useful commentary). Onto romance… well. I don’t want to spoil the surprise(s) so I'll just say a little. Romance starts with Claire and Frank's relationship which Claire is apparently into, but we can’t say the same for the reader! I think that I'm speaking for most outlander lovers when I say that Frank is quite a dull character. He is a good husband and a man busy with his boring work he cannot stop thinking of. He has a strong affection for Claire that cannot be called love, and vice versa. Back in the 18th century, romance happens with Jamie. Jamie Fraser, what a great lover! Any reader will immediately fall in love with him. He is a brave, heroic, (hot!) Scot who isn’t afraid of anything and who will always be ready for sacrifice for his lady. A little like in Robin Hood. Although the temporal and cultural  distance between him and Claire is a big one, they manage to establish a connection, conveying the message that love has no boundaries.

The characterization is very good. I feel close to Claire as if she were a friend. She is described in details, being wise, sometimes a bit too touchy, but also loving and valid. What I like about her is her consistency and boldness: she never acts randomly but always makes the right decisions for herself and the others around her without betraying their faith in her. As for Jamie, he is a less intellectually complex character: he is a great lover but less of a thinker. His impulsive actions show his honesty and authenticity. Geillis, Calum and Dougal MacKenzie are also great and important characters although secondary.

And finally, Scottish culture! I didn't know much about Scotland before reading this book (I still to do a lot of research, but I'm a bit more informed), and now I am craving to go and visit all those amazing castles and do some trekking in the highlands! Scottish landscapes look amazing. A bit like England but more magical. Let me know if you are interested to join me on this crazy and outlandish trip and we can leave in 24 hours. Haha!

This was a super long review, but I couldn't help praising Diana Gabaldon's amazing job. Beannacht! (Goodbye in Gaelic) :)

Goodreads: 5/5

2 comments:

  1. I am seriously so psyched to read this now. I haven't read one bad thing on these books. Well aside that they are on the bit long side and sometimes have some slow moments, but I think I can handle it! Really nice review, I could feel your fangirl moments in this, hehe. :P

    ReplyDelete