narfna’s #CBR5 Review #104: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderWell . . . that was certainly an experience. Parts of it I LOVED and parts of it were SO WEIRD I didn’t even know what to do with myself.

It’s clear that Gabaldon pretty much wrote whatever the hell she wanted to, ignoring a lot of steadfast  “rules” in the process. The result of this is a book that could fit into dozens of different genres, and that contains dozens of scenes that make you go “wait, did she just write that?”

For those of you not familiar (and I’m betting there are still some of you out there), Outlander is the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s titular series about a nurse from World War II-era England who travels back in time two hundred years to Scotland, and among other things, is accused of being a witch, becomes a healer, is forced to marry a handsome young Scot, and deal with a psychopathic Englishman, all the while dealing with her reduced freedoms as a woman and navigating both the smaller and larger political and historical issues that she alone knows are coming.

It’s a long book, and it’s hard to describe. Even if you think you have a pretty good idea of what to expect, I guarantee there will be at least once scene you won’t see coming at all, and more than one that will make you need to put the book down, like under your pillow or in a freezer or somewhere else that is safe and away from you while you alternatively cool down/stop being weirded out/insert overextended emotion here. It’s a romance, and an extremely well-researched historical novel. And it’s speculative, and a bunch of other shit as well.

And I enjoyed it. And I was weirded out by it. And it made me need to go take a cold shower.

The most notable thing about it, of course, is the central romance between our time-traveling heroine Claire and young Scottish virgin, Jamie Fraser, which was extremely swoonworthy, excepting one notable scene involving corporal punishment. I realize Gabaldon needed to have Jamie conform to time-specific ideas about male/female relationships, but I really think I needed to see Claire be more vocal about refusing to be subjected to anything like that in the future, and I needed to see Jamie agree. The scene at the end with Jamie and Randall was . . . interesting. And I’m still not entirely sure what the point of all of it was.

Also, there was probably more sex in this book than in any other book I’ve ever read. Just . . . there’s so much of it. So, so much of it. I kind of wish she’d been a little more spare with it, because after the first three or four times so close together, the scenes sort of began to lose their spark.

Anyway, I’ll definitely be continuing with this series, but probably not until after the first season of the TV show airs on Starz next year. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Ron Moore can do with this story (and with it being on Starz, I’m sure the sex scenes will get their due as well).

And with that, I have finished my Double Cannonball goal for the year, and so now I shall go collapse into my bed and not wake up until Thursday.

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Malin’s #CBR5 Review #121: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

This is the fourth book in the epic Outlander series, and I really wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point (as things won’t make a whole load of sense if you begin reading there). Obviously, this review may also contain spoilers both for earlier books in the series, as well as this one, so skip it if you want to avoid such things.

James Fraser and his time traveller wife Claire, have rescued their nephew Ian Murray from the kidnappers who took him to the Caribbean and are now in America, ready to start a new life away from the Scottish highlands. After a period accepting the hospitality of Jamie’s aunt Jocasta, Jamie accepts a land grant from the governor of North Carolina, which he agrees to settle and find tenants for. Having had most of their fortune (a cache of precious gems), being robbed by river pirates, they’re unable to ship Ian back to his family, but Ian’s quite happy living in the woods of America, befriending the natives and settling the land with his uncle. Jamie finally gets to meet his daughter, when Brianna, having discovered in an old historical document that the Frasers are going to die in a fire in 1776, goes back in time to Scotland and takes a ship to America to find them and warn them. She is followed by historian Roger MacKenzie Wakefield, who wants to marry her.

Of course there is all manner of intrigue and complication – river pirates who rob and rape, murders, hernias, bear attacks, a surprise visit from Lord John Grey (one of my favourite supporting characters in the series) and his stepson, an epidemic of measles, inconvenient pregnancies, a paternity mystery, people being beaten to a pulp and sold to Indians, quests to get said individuals back from the Indians, and so forth. Full review on my blog.

KatSings’ #CBR5 Review #24: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

“You are my courage, as I am your conscience,” he whispered. “You are my heart—and I your compassion. We are neither of us whole, alone. Do ye not know that, Sassenach?” 
I continue to love this series, even if we’ve left the beauty of Scotland mostly behind.  This is the fourth book in the Outlander series, and if you’ve read the rest, you know what you are in for here.
If you loved the first three, you’ll continue your love with this one.

tmoney’s #CBR5 Review #1: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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.

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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.