Warning: Contains spoilers and rape discussion. You’ve been warned.
When my lovely friend Erin asked me if I wanted to review Outlander by Diana Gabaladon, I screamed like a dying horse, and agreed in the most nonchalant way possible. Then I realized that I’d have to look at the book with a more critical eye than
“OMG, he took that kilt off, and they SMOOSHED”!
But, then I came to the conclusion that she wouldn’t have asked me if she expected scholarly…or coherent. I’m who you go to for belligerent, hysterical fangirling.
I was introduced to Outlander by a friend who described the book as being “inspired by an episode of Doctor Who, and there’s men in kilts…EVERYWHERE”! Enough said. I was sold. She must have been a salesman in a previous life. I found this book to be more Game of Thrones than Doctor Who.
Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband of six years, Frank. They’ve only spent two months of real time together. The rest was spent apart during war, but now it’s 1945 and it’s time to lose them drawers. They’re in Scotland, so Frank can do some research because nothing says honeymoon like research. Pace yourself, tiger. (fans self)
After visiting some Scottish Stonehenge in the middle of the night (without good ole Frank) she trips the light fantastic, and is thrown back in time, landing on a soft cloud of loin devastating kilts.
The sex for the first half of the book was handled a la Greek tragedy. It all happened off stage left somewhere. Where, I presumed it happened without incident and everyone enjoyed themselves for how vague it was. But I will say that I understood the author’s intent. With Frank, it was to keep you from being invested in him as a love interest. Once Claire began her sexy relationship with Jamie she slowly introduced more details as their relationship grew. Very creative use of writing to withhold an emotional connection, and then to foster one later on. Applause all around. Very well done.
Now, I have a bone to pick with Ms. Gabaldon. Her overuse of the words “dirk” and “gorse” drove me insane. At one point I literally invented a drinking game where I took a drink every time I read either word. I almost couldn’t finish reading the book and had to go to bed. She stops the over usage after about page 400-ish, but until then it is almost unbearable.
I have tried to stay away from spoilers for those that haven’t read the book that are planning to read it, but I must discuss one more thing. There is a lot of discussion of rape. Almost rape to be exact. Which, is not necessarily a problem for some, but it was a problem for me. I didn’t enjoy it, and I didn’t find it see why she needed it in the book to show Claire’s vulnerability, or the vicious barbarity of the time frame. Just my two cents. Then, there is the rape of Jamie by Jonathan Randall. I can only describe it as viciously brutal, with such psychological savagery that it left my stomach upset well after I had laid the book down. I understood that it was vital to the books plot, but I still did not enjoy reading it, and this is my warning to anyone else who finds such things disturbing to put this book back on the shelf. It’s not for you.
I will repeat that this is a well written book, it is unfortunately not my cup of tea. I would not read it again, nor will I be reading the other books in the series. The author is repetitive, and uses certain themes that hit me the wrong way. While I could discuss those, I think they’ve been better stated by far better writers of reviews on this particular book. I’ll let you read those instead of repeating the same sentiments with less succinct words.