Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delacorte Press on June 1, 1991
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Sometimes our best action result in things that are most regrettable.
Whatever I thought this series was going to be about, I was sorely mistaken. I could not have been further from the truth, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this series way more than I thought I was going to
To be really honest, I didn’t pick up the book first but I watched all four seasons of the show first. Desperate to avoid spoilers from my mother who – bless her – can’t stop herself from talking about spoilers, I started watching Outlander on Netflix to preserve some semblance of naïveté. And I binged it all within a week.
These days as my TBR gets too high to read a book before it hits the silver or small screen, I often watch the show or movie and then go back and read the book if it intrigues me so. Outlander definitely intrigued me and I wanted to know the differences between the show and the books. And let me just say, I much prefer Diana Gabaldon’s writing to the shows.
Most of my bones to pick with the show are in later books, and I’ll talk about them in later reviews, but Outlander and Season 1 were pretty true to each other. Which made the harrowing 627 pages a surprisingly quick read.
I thought this series would be closer to Game of Thrones and more fantasy, or something I don’t know, than a historical fiction romance. I’m definitely not complaining but that might be why I was confused for the first few episodes (or few chapters).
One of the parts that I am most fascinated with and enjoy the most is how much history I feel like I am learning as I read/watch. U.S. History doesn’t give much room to teach about U.K. History and World History has too much to cover to go into any details, so I knew absolutely nothing about Scotland. In fact, I never thought anything of Scotland except that I knew I would like to make it over there one day, but now I have a newfound passion to buy a plane ticket ASAP. Of course the book focuses more on the characters and the relationships between all the moving parts, but with the background set right before the last Jacobite rising there’s a great deal of explaining going on. I am much more fascinated with Scottish history and sympathize with them knowing now what happened to them (is it a spoiler if it’s factual history?).
Claire, our main character, was a combat nurse in World War II and accidentally travels back in time to 1743 Scotland. Her husband Frank is definitely more of the historian than she, so I felt like I was learning a bit about everything as she was. I didn’t mind her character too much. She’s headstrong, vocal in a time most women aren’t, and compassionate. Sometimes she was too compassionate that it got her into trouble, but maybe I’m too cold-hearted. Her likability made this book much easier to read.
Jaime was the character that sort of snuck up on me. I was not paying enough attention to realize that he was quickly becoming the love interest until it was (almost) too late. Like, I didn’t know his name for a good chunk of the first season because I was too busy focusing on other things. Regardless, I think he was a fine main character. I know there is loads of controvery surrounding his character and some of the actions he took in the book (details of which I won’t go into because spoilers), but I find it important to be mindful that this is a book set nearly three hundred years ago. People behaved differently back then, not all of it was okay, but it’s important to understand.
Gabaldon also did a good job of balancing storyline with romance. It nearly reminds me of A Court of Thorns and Roses, just the adult version with a different setting and genre. I could probably do a separate post going fully in depth about why I think that so I’ll save it for a different time. Again, the history and painting the right highlands of Scotland rounded the book out. It tip-toed the genre lines a couple times but nothing that bothered me or made me feel like it was getting lopsided.
I can’t wait to get my hands on A Dragonfly in Amber while I (impatiently) wait for Season 5. Hopefully by the time it rolls around I will have finished the series. Should I post a review on what I think of the show? I have a lot of feelings about how the writers have handled things – as I foreshadowed earlier – and haven’t really had a place to vent. So if you’re strictly an Outlander TV Show fan, maybe keep your eyes peeled for me to post one.
If you’re looking for a historical romance where you will feel like you actually learned something as well as got your share of romance, then Outlander is for you. I mean, even my dad enjoys the show.