Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Book Review

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delta, an imprint of Random House

Life has been in upheaval for Claire and Frank for some time. The majority of their married life was spent apart during World War II, where Claire acted as a nurse. Now is their time to reconnect on a romantic retreat in the Scottish highlands. One morning on their vacation, Claire heads up to an old stone circle (a la Stonehenge). As she nears the structure she begins to hear odd sounds and suddenly is whisked 200 years back in time where she is rescued/kidnapped by a group of Scottish clansmen. One of them, a young man in his early 20s named Jaime, has been badly injured and Claire immediately uses her nursing skills to help heal him. The longer Claire spends in the 18th century, the more time she and Jaime spend around one another, until something happens that will force them together.

When I first joined LibraryThing, one of my first stops was the historical fiction group, where it seemed like everyone was talking about one series. It was universal love, nary a dissenting opinion to be found. That series was, of course, Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series. After that initial introduction, I began hearing praises for “Outlander” all over the place; it seemed that everyone but me had read it. And yet, I resisted. I resisted for a good three years. I was scared by the fact it was a long series of hefty books (the mass market edition of Outlander I read has about 850 pages, and it appears that many of the sequels are longer). I also wasn’t sure how I felt about the time travel aspect or the whole description of the series as historical romance, since I generally feel like romance aspects add very little to historical fiction.

What I want to know now is this:

WHY did none of you sit me down and make me read “Outlander” before this?

Seriously? Because I L-O-V-E LOVE it.

And what of my objections? Okay, first, the time travel thing. It really isn’t time travel. Yes, Claire goes back in time, but it more about the magical qualities of the Scottish highlands, finding that there is truth to the basis of the old myths, not that there is some science fiction-type thing stuck in the middle of what is primarily historical fiction, just a touch of fantasy. Of course, I was also put off by everyone’s description of this book as romance, because historical romance usually makes me roll my eyes or skip pages. However, I was talking to Michelle from That’s What She Read trying to sum up my thoughts on the romance angle and I think that she put it very well: most sex scenes in historical fiction are either gratuitous or insignificant. She’s absolutely right, but the romantic encounters in “Outlander” and neither of those things. By and large they really do advance the plot and the character development. Plus, Gabaldon perfectly walks the line between too vague and too graphic and writes love scenes that don’t make me want to throw the book against the wall, miracle of miracles!

If you are like me and have heard of these books but failed to read them, please stop what you’re doing and go and find the first one. They’re long, but they’re fast reads and they’re terrific. And now I’m out of here, because I’m on my way to buy the next two books in the series!

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*

I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Check out some of the other tour hosts for more reviews.  Links go to the host’s site, not to their specific review.

Monday, August 2nd:  Jenn’s Bookshelves (An Echo in the Bone)

Wednesday, August 4th:  The Literate Housewife Review (Voyager)

Monday, August 9th:  Musings of an All Purpose Monkey (Outlander)

Thursday, August 12th:  Under the Boardwalk (An Echo in the Bone)

Friday, August 13th:  Starting Fresh (An Echo in the Bone)

Monday, August 16th:  Planet Books (Outlander)

Wednesday, August 25th:  MoonCat Farms Meanderings (An Echo in the Bone)

Tuesday, August 31st:  The Brain Lair (Outlander)

Wednesday, September 1st:  My Two Blessings (Outlander)

Thursday, September 2nd:  Life in the Thumb (An Echo in the Bone)

Tuesday, September 7th:  That’s What She Read (Dragonfly in Amber)

Monday, September 13th:  Suko’s Notebook (Outlander)

Tuesday, September 14th:  Luxury Reading (Outlander)

Wednesday, September 15th:  The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (An Echo in the Bone)

Friday, September 17th:  Devourer of Books (Outlander)

Tuesday, September 21st:  Rundpinne (An Echo in the Bone)

Monday, September 27th:  Hey, Lady!  Whatcha Readin’? (Outlander)

Thursday, September 30th:  Pop Culture Junkie (Outlander)

* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

31 comments to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Book Review

  • Wow! You resisted these books for three years! Absolutely love these books…Diana Gabaldon is my favorite author.

    You are right that Gabaldon does not write gratuitous or insignificant scenes…everything for reason that does indeed advanced the story and the characters’ growth. I see this time and time again as the series progresses which is fantastic, and why I love these books so much.

    Okay..I am done commenting because I could go on and on.

  • Waaaaaaaay back in my late teens, I discovered a brand new series: Outlander. I’ve been a fan for about 20 yrs now. I’m so glad there are still people discovering them too.

  • I read Outlander for the first time in January (2010) – loved it. I plan to read the second book early in 2011. So glad I finally got around to reading it!

  • I can’t believe you hadn’t read Outlander before now! I will be anxious to see how you feel about the next books in the series, because I wasn’t a big fan of book #2 and for that reason, I never moved on in the series. Now I am starting to rethink that decision though.

  • I’m right there with you – I’ve been meaning to read it and I know I’ll love it, but I haven’t picked it up yet. However I do plan to start the series over the winter – I’m hoping that will give me the time I need (being cooped up in the house) to read the entire series. :)

  • Since you didn’t mention it, I am assuming you didn’t listen to the audio? Because they are amazing. (And BTW, the sex gets sexier and more explicit with each book!!! I had to pull off the road one time.) I did peter out after the fourth book just because the audios are insanely long and I got tired. I do intend to pick up the last two. So glad you discovered the Wonderful World of Jamie.

  • Yahoo! I’m so glad you loved it. I had a feeling you would! I discovered the Outlander series around eight years ago. I read OUTLANDER and became hooked. I, too, was a bit wary of the size of the book so I started listening to the audio. Phenomenal!

    I do hope you continue with the series! It’s one of my favorites.

  • Outlander makes my top ten of all time list, no doubt about it. Over the years, I’ve read the books and re-read them. But the UNabridged audio is simply phenomenal.

    I’m currently working my way through the series again, which I wanted to do for the publication of the latest installement in the series, An Echo in the Bone. At the rate I’m going though (currently working on The Fiery Cross), I won’t finish before the *next* one comes out. Couldn’t help but wonder when I saw on Diana’s blog that yet another book is forthcoming, “Aren’t they dead yet?” lol.

    Also, the Outlander graphic novel was recently released and I admit to curiousity there. :)

    Welcome to the club!

  • I had tried but failed to read Outlander a few times but finally read it this summer–and finished the next three books in the series in record time! I’m taking a break and reading other things but look forward to starting The Fiery Cross soon.


  • I think I started reading these this year too and I’m loving those! I’m not a fan of time travel books so I was little hesitant at first to start reading but I’m so glad I tried!

  • So many people I know love these books, but I’m still on the fence with them, especially after the last lunch I had with Literate Housewife – she loved the book, but her description didn’t do much for me.

  • I was luke-warm about Outlander, probably one of the few?

    I wanted to read it especially because it was time-travel, but it wasn’t really. The time travel thing was just a way to get a modern woman in a historical setting and it was all romance from then on. In my eyes.

    But maybe you have a different idea about romance than me. I mean the getting him/not getting him/ loving him/does he love me aspect that went through most of the book. Not really my thing. For a “romance” book I don’t think it was bad, but for a “time travel” book it was really not much good. :-)

  • Yay!! You’ve come to the dark side!! 😀 I’m a bit jealous of you because you still have 2-7 to read!!!

  • I was really impressed by this one as well! I’ve heard mixed things about the rest of the series – some people say they’re all great, some say the first was the best of the bunch – so I haven’t gotten to them yet, but it’s definitely a series I want to dive farther into!

  • Add me to the chorus of those saying “I can’t believe you put off reading this!” I love Outlander. I sort of petered out on the series a bit, though, and haven’t read the most recent one or two books.

  • Welcome to the club!! At this rate, you are going to read number 3 before I do!

  • I am so glad you finally broke down and read this because yes, it is literally one of the most engrossing historical fiction series ever!!

  • I love these books. There are fewer sex scenes as the series progresses. My understanding is that Gabaldon wasn’t sure where she’d find her audience — with romance readers or with HF readers so the early books appeal to both.

  • It’s rather funny. I LOVED this book and own the rest of the series (with the exception of the newest book) and haven’t read on in it. I have no idea why because the series is supposed to be awesome as a whole, but that’s the way it is… One day I must read on!

  • I have the same thoughts that you once had, and I may have even perfected the eye roll. *grin* Your enthusiasm and change of heart have me very curious. Hmmm

  • I am still one of those who have not read it! Will get it to it eventually.

  • I have to read these books. After last weeks BBAW questions I was thrown by how many people commented with these books being the ones they recommend the most.

  • Ha! For years I told my mother-in-law to read this series. She said no thanks. This year someone in her bookclub chose the book. She was unenthusiastic about starting it, but has now read the entire series. It is addictive!

  • Oh my. I’ve heard it over and over again. I need to read it. I do. I’m just hesitant to start a series of such length! I’m really glad that you enjoyed it, though. I think we have similar tastes such that I’d like it too.

  • LOVE these books. My best friend (who loves romance) urged me to read them years ago. I was skeptical, but once I started, I could not put them down. I haven’t been able to get into the latest one, but that’s the only one I haven’t devoured. So glad you discovered them!

  • Amy

    I love these books. They’re impossible to put down, at least for me. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • So glad to welcome another member to the Outlander fan club :)

  • I’m so sorry for my belated comment, but YAY I’m so thrilled that we have a new fan of the Outlander series! Thanks, Jen, for being on the tour and for becoming a convert!

  • […] you may have noticed last week, I recently discovered the Outlander series. In addition to my review, I spent a good portion of the week tweeting things like “why did I wait so long to read […]

  • […] Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I have been hearing recommendations for this series for years but have been intimidated by the thought of adding seven or more very hefty books to my TBR. Now I wish I had listened earlier. Getting to at least the next three books is a high priority for me for 2011. […]