My name is Farin, and I’m addicted to Outlander.
It started rather innocuously with a pre-Thanksgiving conversation with a few bookish folks on Twitter. Someone had just read Overseas, which you all know I love, and she said how much it reminded her of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Outlander. When I admitted I hadn’t read either, there was an immediate chorus of “Oh my god! You have to read Outlander!” With the knowledge that the Twitter book community rarely steers me wrong, I grabbed a copy of the book straightaway and started reading it on Thanksgiving Day, and I didn’t stop until I’d finished it on Sunday night.
I’m going to add my voice to the chorus now: Oh my god! You have to read Outlander!
Not only that, but you should also have a list of the series order handy, because you’re going to want to have the second book on deck for when you finish. Maybe the third. That’s Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager respectively, just to save you time.
For those who are unacquainted with the series, it begins in 1946, when Claire Beauchamp Randall, a former WWII nurse, comes across a circle of standing stones while vacationing in the Highlands with her husband and walks through them to land in the 18th century, right before the Stuart Rising. After nearly being raped by Black Jack Randall, a British officer who happens to be one of her husband’s ancestors, Claire is rescued by a band of Scots and taken to the seat of Clan MacKenzie at Castle Leoch. When Black Jack threatens to take Claire prisoner for being a spy, she’s forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a kinsman of the MacKenzies with a price on his head. Despite the fact that Claire still wants to return to her husband, she finds herself falling in love with the man she was forced to marry, and thus begins an epic saga that spans countries and generations.
The series is the most wonderful mix of historical fiction and romance, with a bit of sci-fi thrown in with the time travel element. Diana Gabaldon knows both her characters and the period inside out, and each book is a meaty tale filled with the trials, tribulations, and dangers of living in the 18th century in both Scotland and America. It’s impossible not to become completely invested in Jamie and Claire’s story as they get thrown together when she first passes through the standing stones at Craigh na Dun, then as they attempt to change history leading up to the battle at Culloden, and the wrenching events that follow in subsequent books. The characters go through hell and are constantly tested, and even though they usually come through, things don’t automatically go back to normal when they do, and that grounds what could be a rather fantastic story in truth. And then there’s the love that Jamie and Claire have for one another, which is so palpable that it takes my breath away at points, cheesy as that sounds. It’s been a gift to watch their relationship grow and change in each book, and the need to know that they’re still alive and all right is what keeps me coming back for more and made me unable to consider any other reading material from the moment I started the series.
I just finished An Echo in the Bone today, and even though I know the next book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, is due out in the fall, I’m more than a little bereft.
Like I said, I have a problem. But not a bad problem to have, I think.
Plus, it’s not like I’ve gone out in search of haggis or a tartan or picked up a guidebook to Scotland, or anything like that.*
(*okay, I might have done one or two of these…)