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.