...it just took me forever to read the first book in Diana Gabaldon's epic Scottish time-travel series, Outlander. While this is at least partly due to the fact that I have homework again for the first time since 2004, it may also have something to do with the breadth of the novel. Outlander is nearly 700 pages of rather genre-defying goodness.
Outlander is part fantasy novel, part sci fi, part historical fiction, and all romance. The story revolves around Claire Randall, an strong and independent spirit living with her husband in post-war England. While on a second honeymoon in Scotland, she touches a singing boulder in a ring of standing stones and finds herself 200 years in the past. There she is swept up into clan politics, a dangerous encounter with an English captain, and a love affair that leaves her breathless.
I love it when friends recommend books to me-especially when I enjoy them. A very dear friend told me about this book, and I am happy to report to her that the story is everything she said it would be. First of all, the real main character of this book is the Scottish countryside. Amazingly, Gabaldon had never been to Scotland when she wrote the first book in the series. Her research skills must rock, because I would never have guessed that she was not a frequent visitor. She also does an excellent job describing the frustration and ambivalence that characterizes Claire's arrival and subsequent decision to fall in love with Jamie, a charming outlaw who also happens to be a laird with his own lands.
It is hard to describe this book without making it sound like a glorified Gothic romance novel. But as mentioned above, this book seriously defies definition. So instead of trying to do it's multi-faceted, 600+ page story justice here, I'm going to tell you to just read it, already! There's history enough for lovers of historical fiction, there's the whole time-travel thing for the fantasy/sci fi geeks out there, and there is a good old fashioned love story with a new-fangled twist for the romantics out there. But be prepared-Outlander is but the first in a series of epic novels about Claire and Jamie-none less than 600 pages that I can see. You're gonna want them all.
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