This blog post is a book review of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, a bestseller since 1991. The first novel has over 900,000 reviews on Goodreads. The series follows the time-travelling journey through a ring of standing stones, a fairy circle that allows time travel, of World War Two nurse Claire in 1946 and back into the year 1743.
Guest blogger of Outlander is Amelia Connell. At the time of writing this post, Amelia was a University of the Sunshine Coast student completing a Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in Publishing & Creative Writing. Amelia undertook a 208-hour internship with Gail Tagarro.
About the Story
At the end of World War Two, Claire and her husband, Frank Randall, decide to take a second honeymoon in Scotland. There, Frank tracks his genealogy while Claire studies natural medicine. Later, the pair watch an ancient Druid ritual at dawn in the stone circle of Craigh na Dun near Inverness during the pagan holiday Beltane. When Claire returns to the stones later in the day to collect medicinal plant samples, she touches the centre standing stone and is transported back to 1743. The stone is only active during pagan holidays.
At first, Claire is convinced she’s landed in the set of a movie, or a historical re-enactment. When she stumbles upon Captain Jonathan Randall, her husband’s eight-times great-grandfather and an almost identical lookalike, Claire soon realises she’s no longer in 1946. Then she is rescued by a local Scottish clansman, James Fraser, and her venture into the Scottish Highlands truly begins.
At its core, Outlander is a historical romance, although it draws on many other genres as well. Gabaldon says the book has been marketed as everything from sci-fi, fantasy, and romance, to historical fiction, mystery, and horror. Outlander dabbles in a little of many themes, including time-travel, battles, and witches.
The first novel is purely from Claire’s perspective, and she is a witty and practical narrator. She is a strong protagonist who rolls with the punches. She keeps her main goal at the forefront of her mind: get home to Frank. When circumstances force her to marry the young James Fraser, at first Claire struggles to accept her fate. But then, she develops feelings for her new husband. When the chance finally arises for her to return to her own time, who – and when – will she choose?
Known affectionately as Jamie, the young Scot is a wanted man who seeks refuge with his mother’s family, the Mackenzie clan. Jamie is a former soldier turned horse tamer. Claire fixes Jamie’s dislocated shoulder when she is first rescued by the clan, and he immediately takes an interest in her. Charming, stubborn, and handsome, Jamie becomes Claire’s first friend in 1743.
Taking Television by Storm
Outlander was adapted to television in 2015 and so far, five seasons have aired, with the sixth in post-production now. The show has already been renewed for a seventh season. It has been wildly successful, its fanbase increasing with each season.
The penultimate book nine, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, releases in November 2021, thirty years after the first novel was published. The release comes after a seven-year wait from the publication of book eight, and knowing Gabaldon’s work, the wait will be worth it. If you haven’t yet read Outlander, now is the time to pick it up. You only have around seven thousand pages to catch up on—not including the spinoffs.
Gabaldon, D 1991, Outlander, Arrow Ltd., US
Photo credit Jon Tyson Unsplash