Diana Gabaldon,
(Delacorte, 1991;
Delta, 1998)

I've just spent the last month reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a 627-page historical-romance-action-adventure epic. And not only that, there are four more books to follow the first one. Since I enjoyed it dearly I took it upon myself to spread the word on this novel. I must forewarn you, though -- this novel holds many different elements and is not for the weak at heart or close-minded. If you prefer realism, then stick to the classics; however, I do feel that someday we may look back at this epic as a so-called modern-day classic.

A novel set mainly in 1743, it begins just after the end of the Second World War in the Highlands of Scotland in the little town of Inverness. A young woman of 27, Claire Randall, is on a second honeymoon with her husband after the war has separated them for nearly seven years (she was a nurse, he an officer). While there, her husband Frank, an obsessive lover of his family's genealogy, prods her into watching the local women take part in an ancient Gaelic ritual. She is intrigued, but after they leave the ritual site (a rock circle much like Stonehenge), Claire finds herself mysteriously transported to the 18th century.

The reader is taken on a first-person perspective of Claire's journey as she is mistaken for a whore, taken captive, forced into marriage, assumed to be a spy, transformed into a medicine woman, accused of witchcraft and murder, and on through prison, rescue, love, sex, etc. It has all the elements needed in the telling of a positively delightful story.

Step back for a moment and ask yourself, what would you do if you were trapped 200 years back, forced into a marriage to save your skin and then come to fall in love with the dashing, boyish Scotsman and saviour? Now to twist the complication, what about the fact you have a husband 200 years ahead of time whom you also love, but do not know if you can return to? Claire comes to such an inevitable problem -- Jamie, her Scotsman, returns her to the rock circle and gives her the choice of returning to Frank if it's possible.

The choice she makes is one that only starts yet another turn of several nerve-gripping events. I am not one who likes to be left in the dark; if Outlander were a movie, there is no way I would have been able to enjoy it because I would be constantly on the edge of my seat. Scottish clans, warring British and a wickedly evil British captain are amidst the setting of a truly beautiful, at times heartbreaking love story.

I reiterate that this is not for the faint at heart due to the novel's occasionally gruesome violence. An era in history when the Scots were warring with the British, just prior to the American Revolution, the feeling of disgust between the two countrymen is evident.

An intense series of love scenes is also a reason for those modest in their reading to take warning. I knew going in there would be some scenes of this nature, but they are done with exquisite care and importance. They hit the mark and show the reader of the true love growing between Jamie and Claire.

This book is definitely a new favorite, but because it is so long I don't know if I will be re-reading it anytime in the future. The length is not a problem, but should be taken into consideration if one is looking for an airy love story. I enjoyed it immensely, but it is at times difficult to follow without steady reading. Pick it up if you enjoy historical romances with twists and turns that will last you for at least a few days.

- Rambles
written by Susannah Carey
published 2 October 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.