Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

A bit of a bookworm fail here, I fancied watching the Outlander series (the concept was similar to A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley, one of my favourite books as a child, which sees a girl experience a similar phenomenon arriving back in the time of the Babington Plot) but couldn’t stretch to an Amazon Prime subscription…it hadn’t occurred to me that they were originally a series of books. At least, not until I came across a review of the series from Dewette Decimal Reads. So I loaded up the pushchair and took a trip to my local library to source a copy.

Outlander is the first novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series and tells the story of Claire Randall, a young nurse taking a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank in 1946 when she steps through a circle of standing stones and finds herself back in 1743, face to face with her husband’s ancestor- Black Jack Randall, an English redcoat, who is very unlike the man she knows and loves. Attempting to escape from him, she falls into the hands of a group of Highlanders, who take her back to their clan’s castle believing her to be a spy. Attempting to gain their trust and find an opportunity to escape and return to Frank, Claire puts her medical skills to use in the castle where she increasingly finds herself drawn to a handsome young Highlander called Jamie Fraser. And wouldn’t you know it, it isn’t too long before she finds their fates very much entwined…

In the main part, I really enjoyed Outlander as a rollicking historical adventure complete with kidnappings, fights and witchcraft. The characterisation really added colour to the novel; an independent, headstrong 20th century woman finds herself confronting a very traditional, 18th century, conservative Catholic masculinity. The conflict arising as a result of the mores of the two ages created a credible dynamic between the characters of Jamie and Claire, and really allowed Gabaldon to bring 18th century Scotland to life.

I’ve already finished Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the series, and am trying to get hold of the third novel, Voyager, from the library… someone seems to be reading the series at the same time as me!

One thing I would say about the novel for anyone thinking of reading it, although the premise is similar to young adult fiction such as Uttley’s and A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively (which the UK title of Outlander, Cross Stitch, seems to have been a nod to) this is not a novel which is suitable for children as it contains exceptionally graphic sexual violence. I wouldn’t consider myself to be especially delicate about violence in fiction, but this really is very graphic and I do think it is necessary to warn about it.

6 thoughts on “Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

  1. orange

    I just have to gush for a minute about A Traveller in Time because it was also one of my favourite childhood books — along with Charlotte Sometimes, which I knew was meant to be unbearably sad but was too young to really understand why. I may have to load up the Kindle and revisit them both!

    Reply
    1. Siobhan Post author

      This is why I love your comments! I had forgotten Charlotte Sometimes, but when I looked it up I remembered reading it at school. I think I’m going to have to make a list of books that I need to revisit with Phoebe 🙂

      Reply
      1. orange

        Oh I now have this senseless hope you might be the one to help me find a book I loved as a child but has been so far impossible to track down, due to its unimaginative title: I’m 99.99% sure it was called “The Tower” and it was about two sisters whose parents owned a pub in the English countryside. There’s a brilliant line where the mum asks them to help and one of the sisters explains that they don’t have to be useful because they’re ornaments. Anyway one night there’s a huge flood And this tower they had found out in the woods gets carried down for miles — with them In it. (Sorry the capitalisation and sentence order isn’t great, WordPress on my mobile is being kooky). Is any of this ringing any bells? I have scoured the internet and never found it — it would have been published around 1970 and was one of my mother’s books.

        Reply
        1. Siobhan Post author

          I don’t think I’ve ever read that. I remember a book with a tower and a flood, but that was with a flood bell and no sisters. Sorry, I hope you find it one day.

          Reply
          1. Siobhan Post author

            I’m so glad you remembered what it was! As soon as I saw your comment, I logged onto the website for my local library (I’ve become obsessed with the digital revolution in my library) and they have it available to loan! They also have lots of his other books. I’ll hunt it out when I next take a walk into town 🙂 I hope you get your copy soon.

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