What better way to kick off my 2012 blogging than with a book review? My latest obsession comes in the form of a book series. Currently, there are seven books in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series (with an eighth to be released in 2013).
I had heard about her work before, but hadn’t pursued the books further until I read Diana’s cover story in the January issue of Writer’s Digest. She was so real and inspiring that I asked for copies of the 600+ page tomes for Christmas, and was delighted to receive her first two books, Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, from my friend Sam.
I finished the first one within two weeks and am halfway through the second, which should give you an idea of my opinion thus far! Today, I’m sharing my review of Outlander with all of you.
Diana has explained that when she originally wrote Outlander, it was more for practice (her eyes only) than for the expectation of being published. As a result, this book fits a wide variety of genres: historical fiction, romance, paranormal, action…and on and on. Her ability to portray historical characters is outstanding, and even though I will caution that there are some very explicit scenes (see the section below for more on this subject), the story feels authentic and heartfelt. It certainly made me wish, not for the first time, that time travel was real!
Outlander’s main character is a woman by the name of Claire Randall, who is extremely intelligent and equally fiery in her words and actions. I think my appreciation for her personality and passion contributed a lot to my enjoyment of the book. In the beginning, Claire, an Englishwoman who worked as a nurse during WWII, is traveling in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank. The year is 1946, and Claire and Frank are on a second honeymoon, having been separated by the war. Without giving too much away, Claire ultimately finds herself exploring alone one day and comes to a circle of stones (think Stonehenge). Thinking nothing of it, she walks through a cleft in one of the stones and finds she has somehow traveled back in time – to 1743.
From there, the story picks up at an astonishing pace despite its length. There are twists and turns everywhere – not the least of which involves Claire meeting a young man by the name of James Fraser. You can read the entire plot summary in Diana Gabaldon’s words here.
Note: I do want to warn those of you who are particularly sensitive to violent or graphic scenes because there are a lot of them in this book. There were certainly parts of the book that I did not agree with personally, especially as a female. I did take into account, however, the time the book was meant to be written in. Though it does not justify some of the scenes and character actions, it does give the book a sense of historical accuracy. It’s definitely not meant to be a light read, but will leave you with that feeling of, “Wow, I bet that really could have happened.”
When I finished the first one, I eagerly began the second, and have found that so far it has been just as engaging and enlightening – but for different reasons. Diana has said she wants each book to be able to stand on its own (though she does recommend reading in order, if possible), and I think she does a brilliant job of achieving this goal.
Have I convinced you yet? Diana Gabaldon has built quite a fan base for herself, and I encourage you to pick up a copy of Outlander and see for yourself what the hype is about! She doesn’t disappoint.
Have you read any books in the Outlander series? If so, which was your favorite?