I’m an avid reader and member of several book clubs, but it took a recommendation from a friend for me to read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I had never heard of the series, but the same friend had told me to read Gone Girl, so I downloaded the book onto my Kindle, not really aware of the length of the darn thing.
That’s the biggest impression I took away from Outlander-the length. The book is 850 pages, and it would have been a great book, had an editor existed in any way. Much like most movies that are two and a half hours long and should be two hours, this book could have been 600 pages and still told a really unique story.
Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a British nurse from World War II, who visits Scotland with her husband, Frank Randall, on their second honeymoon after the war in 1945. Her husband is a decent guy, but he’s obsessed with his heritage and doesn’t inspire a lot of passion from either Claire or the reader. Claire and Frank decide to go traipsing about the land and end up in a stone circle. She touches one of the stones and is transported back to 1743.
That is pretty much the only fantasy part of the book, so don’t worry if fantasy really isn’t your thing, this is a romance novel that happens to have a bit of time travel thrown in. Claire is unfortunate enough to meet up with her husband’s ancestor, an awful man, but she is saved by James Fraser (Jaime) who is everything a girl could want in a Scottish Highlander, all broad shoulders and gleaming red hair. However, he happens to be a 23-year-old virgin who is covered in whipping scars and tends to enjoy pain a little too much. Jaime and Claire have a cute sparring relationship that turns into more, until Claire has to decide whether to stay in 1793 or go back to her real life and her husband.
Along the way, there is a witch (or is she?), a castle full of interesting people, disgusting descriptions of illnesses and injuries, and two characters that you grow to care about. However, I will warn you that if you are looking for well-written love scenes, this is not the book for you, as they are plentiful, but not very sexy. There is also a long meditation on God’s love and a prolonged gay-rape scene that is incredibly uncomfortable to read. Both scenes, which are very long indeed, do nothing to help develop characterization or move the plot.
Overall, I don’t plan on reading the rest of the series, not only because they are really long books, but also because I just don’t care anymore what happens to Claire.