Monday, November 9, 2009

CBR II - Book #1: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I finally finished my first book for the Cannonball Read 2. Let me ask you this. Who picks an eight hundred page book to read in a week while her husband is away, she is a part of planning 2 fundraisers, is working full time and has two children with various extra-curricular activities? Me, that’s who! In case you were wondering; yes, I am a bit of a sucker for punishment.

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander was recommended to me by a co-worker. It didn’t really sound like my idea of a good time because I don’t normally enjoy Harlequin Romances. In my stubbornness to stick with what I knew, I perceived the way this was presented to me as a Harlequin. That conversation ended badly, but I decided to read the book anyway. Turns out, I’m glad I did.

As the Second World War winds down, Claire reunites with her husband after a ridiculously long separation caused by their serving in said war, she as a nurse and he as a soldier. While enjoying a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands, Claire and her husband, Frank Randall, witness a modern day druid ceremony at a set of standing stones. When the ceremony has concluded, being a bit of an amateur botanist, Claire is drawn to a flower amongst the stones. But Frank’s attention has grown short and he wants to get back to whatever it was he was doing back in town. Genealogy, probably; Frank has just discovered information pertaining to his several times great-grandfather, Jack Randall, a Captain in the English Military during the eighteenth century. Just in case it isn’t abundantly clear, Frank bored me to tears and I am grateful he only occupied a very small portion of the beginning of the book. So, Claire resigns herself to returning for the flower later.

Return she does. And this is where the going gets good. When she returns to the stones, Claire finds she can hear a ‘buzzing like bees’ that intensifies as she draws closer to one stone in particular on which she rests her hand. Claire is overcome. When she recovers she believes herself to be in the middle of a re-enactment or filming of a period movie, because of sounds of battle nearby and attempts to find her way back home. It becomes clear to Claire that things are not as they should be. Her surroundings are the same, yet different. Claire hasn’t quite figured it out yet, but you and I have (and if you haven’t maybe you should read this after you do), our little English nurse has been hurtled back in time. She encounters an English army man who could pass as Frank’s twin. But he’s not Frank, not by a long shot. No, this is the infamous Captain Jack Randall and, taking in her clothing, pegs her a whore and attempts to have is way with her. Before much damage is done she is rescued by a Scotsmen who then brings her to his travelling party. It is here she meets the absolutely adorable Jamie Fraser (oh darn! Am I being obvious again?). His shoulder has been dislocated in a scuffle with the English. Being a nurse during the war, Claire wrestles the young man’s shoulder back into its rightful place.

And so begins the adventure and romance of Jamie and Claire. They are met with resistance that takes many shapes, including themselves. They are forced to marry to protect Claire from Jack Randall and then realize they’ve fallen in love. There is sex, lies and no videotape (cause it’s 1743, silly) but a good helping of violence. And time travel! And some of the difficulties that come with it.

Diana Gabaldon has done a fantastic job of painting the mid-eighteenth century life in Scotland. My knowledge of Scottish history would fill a thimble, if I am lucky, but she makes it believable. The characters are real. They are heroic, without being untouchable. They have flaws. I dare you not to feel despair when Jamie leaves Claire at the stones. Tell me your gut doesn’t wrench when Jamie talks of his imprisonment. Tell me you aren’t able to affect a near perfect Scottish accent when you’re through reading Outlander, which is a bonus really, because when is a Scottish accent not cool?

This book is a far cry from Harlequin (unless Harlequin has evolved since I last read one) and I would recommend it as a romance, and an adventure with a little sci-fi-ishness thrown in for good measure.


  1. god, sprite, pick a bigger book next time!

    but, and this is just based on that review, i would read the first, say, 4 chapters of this on the beach before passing out from too much sun.
    i would then pick it back up 2 weeks later, finish it and wonder if i somehow fucked up its rhythm.
    when a movie was greenlit for this, i would then follow most trade news in the latter stages, and finally go see it during a sunday matinee opening weekend. i would then Bitch and Moan online about how they fucked up the original tone, even though i myself was guilty of that crime while attempting to get through such a tome during the summer months.
    i would say something scathing and only land #6 on that week's EE.
    i would plot my revenge.

    but that is being based strictly on This one review.

  2. I know, eh?

    As for the rest of what you said: I love that you never use capitals but you saw fit to capitalize Bitch and Moan.

    I also love that my book reveiw was the catalyst for your comment. Alone, it is a thing of beauty.