Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Posted March 18, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance / 0 Comments

Outlander by Diana GabaldonTitle: Outlander (Goodreads)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published: Dell, 1991
Pages: 870
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Claire Randall found herself time travelling from 1945 to 1743. She was just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon but then she walks through an ancient stone circle and finds herself in the midst of a war torn Scotland being raided by the Highland clans. She finds a young Scot warrior and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire.

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t read this book along with the Vaginal Fantasy book club; I did it because this is my wife’s favourite series and I needed a romance novel for the Literary Exploration challenge. I’m not really a fan of romances (Wuthering Heights is still the greatest Romance of all time) so I wasn’t sure what I was getting into here but be warned, even though I want to talk about all the things that didn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean this wasn’t an enjoyable read.

First of all I want to talk about Claire Randall; here is this strong former combat nurse that finds herself in the past. While she is scared and confused I never felt that her desperation was believable; I felt like the inner turmoil of Claire never really played out and I was left to believe she wanted to be there. Also she is suppose to be portrayed as a strong independent woman but all I saw was a loud mouth nag that put up no fight and just married Jamie with no reluctance at all.

Jamie Fraser suffers from instalove; as soon as he saw Claire he was madly in love with her. Then when they finally got married, the virgin becomes the greatest lover known to man; how is that possible? Also Jamie is supposed to be this great Scottish warrior but all I ever see him do is get into trouble and winding up caught or with severe wounds. Not to mention the abuse towards Claire; sure it was a sign on the time to discipline his wife but this isn’t sexy and is just over done.

Finally the plot; I tend to think this book goes in a repetitive circle, which consists of sex, more sex, conflict, sex, being caught, wife beating and then more sex. This is the entire plot arc and it keeps repeating itself for over 800 pages. Makes me wonder what makes a romance novel, I never felt there was an ounce of romance or love; just lots of sex.

I know this is a series of a great love between Jamie and Claire and there was a flicker of this from Jamie but never felt that come through from Claire. I wonder if sex is a substitute for love here or does this reflect more in the books that follow. Apart from everything I didn’t like about the book, the characters and the writing was pretty good. I wanted more inner conflict from Claire as0 the narrator but that is just a personal preference. I’m always interested in the inner thoughts of a protagonist, especially when they find themselves in an unusual situation.

I’m not sure if I will continue the Outlander series but I would like to think that the romance starts in the next book. I’m curious to know if this is the case; I’m a little hesitant to invest in another 800 pages if it’s just more of the same. Romance novels are not really my thing, but I did like the slight speculative fiction element with the time travel. I hope that aspect of the plot gets explored in greater detail with the other books. Now I’m curious to read The Time Travellers Wife and see how it compares.

0 responses to “Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

  1. Bree

    Words cannot express how much I agree with this review! I was so excited to read it because I know how popular it is and how many people OBSESS over this series. And I was so disappointed in the instalove, the abuse, Claire’s lack of distress at being catapulted back in time 200 years! I still haven’t read the second book despite repeated urging.

  2. Lectus Read

    You just broke my heart! I efffing loved Jamie! And I cried! Did I? Well, I noticed my eyes were wet. And I was traumatized. So traumatized that I refuse any other book in the series. I don’t think I can resist Jamie taking another… suffering like that.

  3. I do love this series. Its been a long time since i read the first book, so perhaps i blocked out all the bad parts like the abuse and stuff. In my head, Jamie and Claire are the greatest romance of all time. I’m glad you gave it a go though. one day i’ll have to restart the series again and see how it makes me feel now that i’m a bit older.

  4. sally906

    I started to read the series and gave it away just didnt light my fire for much the same reasons as you point out. I made it up to book 3 so I think I gave the series a good chance. I am going to be very interested in your thoughts of the Time Travellers Wife.

  5. Jae

    I felt much the same. I just don’t get what the huge appeal is with this book. I definitely am not inspired to keep reading the series either as this didn’t wow me as much as I expected due to the rave reviews and reader loyalty. I’m curious to see what you’ll think of Time Traveler’s Wife if you get to it. A lot of people are crazy about that but I felt much the same about it as I did Outlander and just didn’t get it. I don’t see either of the couples as having great romances.

  6. Kasey

    This book horrifies me. I have no problem with sex in books.
    I have no problem with books that are simply fun reads with no thought
    provoking ideas or moral lessons. I totally respect that people have different
    taste in books. I like many different types of books. I love history, especially
    Scottish history. I love to be entertained when reading. I love learning while
    I read. For all of these reasons, I decided to try reading Outlander. I had to stop reading less than half way through. This book affected me on a visceral level and I cannot get it out of my head, in a very negative way. My stomach literally turns when I think this book. The main female character is an abused woman. The main male character is abusive. Regardless of the historical accurateness of the book, it saddens me that we
    are praising a book where the main female character allows herself to be
    abused. She agrees that she did not obey her husband and understands why he has
    to beat her. As a woman, teacher, and mother, the acceptance of this book terrifies me. Why do we still allow ourselves to be objectified and abused, even in literature?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.