Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (A sweeping epic tale that crosses centuries and genres)

If someone asked me what genre Outlander belonged to, I’d have trouble answering. Historical fiction, of course, with a strong romantic relationship at its heart, yet also fits into the fantasy and supernatural genre with a touch of science-fiction. Whatever the genre, all I can tell you is I found Outlander to be an epic tale that swept me along for the ride.

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The year is 1945. The war is over and Claire Randall has been reunited with her husband, Frank. She spent the past number of years as a combat nurse in France while Frank worked for M16. They go on a second honeymoon to Scotland, a chance to get to know each other all over again. There, Claire wanders up to the circle of standing stones and presses her hand to one of them. Her world tilts and she awakens in the same spot, some two hundred years in the past. How will she get back to her husband? How will she convince the Scots she isn’t an English spy? How will she manage in the year 1743?

Wow. I’ve fallen fast and hard in love with this book and I can’t wait to dive into the next one. I’m not sure how I would have survived reaching the last page if I hadn’t known there were a further seven books in the series! I don’t often give a book five stars, but with Outlander, I wish I could give more. It swept me up and tore my emotions apart. I loved Claire and Jamie and their relationship. Jamie is my new book boyfriend. πŸ™‚ He’s courageous, handsome, more forward thinking than most men of his time, and he loves Claire completely. And of course he’s also got that swoon-worthy Scottish accent! And he wears a kilt!!! Claire herself is a formidable heroine. She copes a hell of a lot better in the eighteenth century than I could ever imagine I would. She’s resilient, brave and strong, a force to be reckoned with. I am still shaking my head wondering how this book escaped my attention. It was published in 1991 and I cannot understand why I hadn’t heard of it previously.

This story contains romance, but it’s not a traditional romance. Romance books for me are the journey of a man and woman falling in love and getting together, and the book usually ends with “and they lived happily ever after”. Yes, Jamie and Claire are forced to get married and be together, but this story spans beyond that. For readers who aren’t too much into romance, note Outlander is a historical fiction piece. Want to know what life was like in the Highlands of Scotland in mid eighteenth century? Look no further. Given the time period, there is much brutality in this novel and the threat of violence and rape permeates through many of the pages, a word of warning…

I read the book on my Kindle and it was long. A quick Google search and it’s apparently 850 pages, and even at that length, I wanted more. Outlander now goes in my top ten favourite books of all time.

Check it out on Goodreads & Amazon.

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Have you read this? I’d love to know what your thoughts on this book are.

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16 thoughts on “Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (A sweeping epic tale that crosses centuries and genres)

  1. It’s been YEARS since I read this book. I would love to give it another read and continue the series, but my TBR list is SO long. I was lucky enough to hear Diana Gabaldon Speak at the Buildin’ the Dream Conference in Arizona in May. She is so warm and funny. And cute as she can be. She looks years younger than her age, in my opinion.

    1. Don’t get me started on my own TBR list. πŸ˜‰ That thing never gets any shorter. I’ve watched interviews with her on YouTube and she seems like a smart, together lady who knows exactly what she wants. She even gets to do a small cameo in the TV series. And she does look younger.

  2. I’ve been thinking about giving this one a go for a while now but it’s SUCH a long series with big books. It’s a lot to commit to, especially as I’ve recently dived into Game of Thrones and several other series. I’m not really one for historical fiction either, but because it’s got other elements as well I might get on with it. I’ve only heard good things!

    Great review. πŸ™‚

    1. It is a long series. I’ve got the first 3 books now. I’ll probably read to the end of Voyager (book 3) and give myself a rest then. From what I can gather from reading online the author wrote three books initially before taking them up again down the road, so I’m viewing Outlander as a trilogy, for now.
      How are you getting on with Games of Thrones and the rest of that series? I have GoT sitting on my shelf in my bedroom staring at me accusingly for the last few months. πŸ™‚

      1. That sounds like a good way to look at it. πŸ™‚
        I haven’t got past the second book in A Game of Thrones yet but I’m hoping to pick up the third soonish. I want to catch up with the TV series before it comes back if I can! I’m really enjoying the series so far and because it’s so fast paced it doesn’t feel as long as it looks!

  3. I love Outlander too. I listened to the first three books on Amazon audibles. At times her long prose style grates my nerves, but her storytelling is so rich for the most part I could ignore that issue.
    She says it all started with an image of a man in a kilt. Amazing.
    Great review Emma. A pleasure to read.
    Best
    Jo-Ann

    1. I’d be interested in listening to an audio version, just to hear the accents! She does like to describe everything, but it doesn’t bother me. An image speaks a thousand words, eh? Well, in this case more like 1000 pages. Thanks, Jo-Ann.

  4. I remember it being a page turner, and I did buy the second book years ago but never moved on. The first one got a little too weird/creepy at the end with Jamie’s nemesis and everything. It was quite a contrast to another book of historic Scotland that I liked, (Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverly”) that’s for sure. I haven’t tried the new tv adaptation yet either, have you?

    1. Jay, I couldn’t put it down. Read it in maybe 5 days, staying up sometimes until 2am and only giving in because my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer. Jamie’s imprisonment was harrowing to read. I’m not sure how they’re going to shoot/portray those scenes in the TV series, but I’m looking forward to watching the full season.

  5. I read this back in the 90s and really enjoyed it, but I honestly don’t remember much about it. Normally books that I’m completely gone on make a lingering impression on me. I’m not sure why this one didn’t, but I do recall enjoying it at the time. I know it has a rabid fan base, so I might have to give it another look-see.

    1. Give the TV show a go if you have a chance, Mae; it might refresh your memory. You’re right about the fanbase. They are enthusiastic and loyal. It’s the first book in a long time where I got to the last page and I was tempted to go back and read it all over again.

  6. Nice one, Emma. Guess you liked it a lot, huh? LOL I haven’t watched the show or read the book, but such a high rating from you makes it more interesting. I will be checking it out further. Have a great weekend.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  7. Emma you sound more like me with the romantic book boyfriends so funny. My Kindle died and I am going to have to wait for another. A book is out of the question well those to buy that is no room, so at present this author for knowledge to go on the Shelf to read. I could go the library but I would never get out (too many books) hahah Or they never find me…

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