Phew – I’ve finally finished the Outlander audiobook on Audible, making it my first finished book of 2019!
Outlander, for the few people out there who don’t know, is a romance, following Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, as they wend their way through the Scottish Highlands. Claire starts the story in post World War Two Scotland, holidaying with her husband Frank. They’re there to rebuild their relationship after the separation they endured during the war, and for Frank to do a bit of digging into his family tree. However, a slight spanner is thrown in the works when Claire is unwittingly transported to 1743, taken to the past by a pagan stone circle.
Claire finds herself dramatically taken in by clan MacDonald, having been discovered by them, and having made herself useful by tending Jamie’s wounds. As you can guess, the relationship between Claire and Jamie develops, really picking up speed when they’re unexpectedly thrown together around a third of the way through. I won’t ruin it by saying what exactly happens, but it’s a good twist. We’re then treated to a roller coaster of events, where Jamie and Claire both A) try to survive, and B) fall in love against the backdrop of Claire’s guilt over the husband she’s left behind, and Jamie’s suspicion around who Claire really is.
I really enjoyed Outlander, I mean, what’s not to love? Time travel adds a brilliant new dimension to the normal historical romance, and Gabaldon’s depiction of Scottish clan life isn’t without its nostalgic charm. She had me harking back to simpler times, death by infection and all. The book also contains a great wit that the TV show doesn’t quite capture, and the writing style has all the formality of 1945, which was an interesting, novel, and enjoyable change from what I’ve recently been reading. The representation of a different time was done skillfully, and I was outraged by the way Jamie, our hero, sometimes treated Claire, due to husband and wife roles that in no way reflect modernity. Not to mention the representation of superstition, mob mentality, and the absolute power of those in positions of authority.
However, this book is LONG, and I can’t say that I fell in love with Jamie (and I know, I know, I’m in the minority on this!). I’d thought maybe it was just that I didn’t like the TV show casting, but I find Jamie annoyingly simple, and Claire’s a bit soppy and irritating sometimes too. I do, however, have a lot of love for Jenny, Jamie’s sister; she’s a character I can really get behind!
Although I enjoyed Outlander, I don’t think I’m going to listen to or read the other books. I’ve watched most of the TV show and I don’t think the books will hold my interest as a result – I can very rarely re-read books for the same reason. But this in no way takes away from the brilliant writing and concept (what a concept!), which deservedly got this series made into a TV show, so, if you’ve yet to delve into the world of Outlander, and you enjoy a romance, I would thoroughly recommend giving it a go.