Rated Reads

Outlander (Outlander, book 1)

by Diana Gabaldon

Rated: High

I had never heard of this book, the first in a lengthy series, until a month ago when I stumbled across mention of it on someone’s book blog. This blogger wrote that these books are the ones she never puts away and always has available so she can just re-read and re-read to her heart’s content. Curiosity piqued, I looked on Goodreads to see reviews. Then I decided that, given the length of the book, it would be perfect for downloading on my Kindle, so I did so. Then I thought, Well, I’ll just start reading a little and see what it’s about and if I like it. Then I couldn’t put it down. I finished it and bought the second book, and I’m nearly through with it.

So there you have it. I got hooked on this book — and, most likely, the whole very lengthy series: there are basically seven books in the series so far, with an eighth set for 2013, and each is about 700 pages long. That is a LOT of words. Now, you ask, what is it about?

Well, basically, Scotland in 1745. A woman in 1945 England goes on a second honeymoon with her husband, from whom she’s had to be apart for some years because of World War II. They go to Scotland, find a charming bed and breakfast, and explore. Long story short, she ends up whisked back in time 200 years, and she ends up there for a good long while. So she makes a life there and even (re?)marries.

I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction; sometimes it can be dry or full of details that just don’t pique my interest. But this book can most accurately be classified as that genre, with sprinklings of all kinds of other genres mixed in, and I loved it. Diana Gabaldon has done her research, crafting a novel that just seems to capture the place and time in living color. I particularly enjoyed the information about medicine and how the sick and injured were treated medically or by “healers” using herbs and anything available naturally. Claire, our main character, was a nurse in the war, so she ends up being a healer in that earlier time, and she has to figure out how to adapt to what’s available, and I just found that whole storyline fascinating. We as readers also learn quite a bit about the Jacobites, how clans were run in the Scottish Highlands, and tons of details of daily life that Gabaldon manages to make interesting and relevant rather than superfluous or dull.

In addition to adventure, lots of action, and intrigue, readers get a really compelling love story. Claire’s love interest in her “new” (old?) time is a great character, and their interactions are passionate in every way. On top of presenting wonderful characters, Gabaldon also has lots of fun with humor as her characters interact.

Overall, this is just such a great book and series that I probably won’t be able to pull myself away from the thousands of pages that comprise the series so far.

Rated: High. There are four or five uses of strong language and some other moderate and mild language peppered throughout. There are a good number of moderately detailed sex scenes and a good number of crude references, which honestly kind of feel authentic considering the time and the characters involved. There is violence, and some is fairly detailed. Life in 1745 was pretty harsh, and there were some very unsavory characters. One character in this book in particular is cruel, perverted and just plain evil, and his actions at a couple of points are, frankly, more detailed than I would have liked and pretty disturbing.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

4 Responses to Outlander (Outlander, book 1)

  1. […] much easier to read a very thick book on my thin Kindle. It satisfied my hopes in that vein. The Outlander series I’ve been enjoying so much, set primarily in 1700s Scotland (so far), comprises about […]

  2. […] bottom line: if you liked Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, you’ll probably really like this […]

  3. Pascual says:

    Marg I have noticed the same thing and I hnetsoly don’t think Stewart is all that special. She was good in Into the Wild, but I don’t think she’s been very good in anything else and she overacts in the Twilight movies. I don’t mind Heigl in American romantic comedies, but she is not right for the part of Claire at all.

  4. […] and manly Scot. Unfortunately, Jamie is a fictional character, the star of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels. That doesn’t deter her, however, from deciding to sell everything she has and fly to […]

  • Outlander (Outlander, book 1)
  • by Diana Gabaldon
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: