People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet. ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.
Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanished into the smoke of imported cigars.
Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
I find this to be a more intriguing introduction than the book summary itself. As many of you know, I have issues with book summaries that give too much away. There are things in the summary for Outlander which I think are better left to find out for yourself.
Sometimes there is something thrilling about being on the bandwagon for new releases. When something magical comes along and you are able to take part in the thrill of the discovery, connecting with others on the same subject and going on a journey inside the novels and out. With that being said, there is also something satisfying about being late to the game. When a series is well into its adventure or blessedly completed you are able to skip the agonizing wait for future novels and new releases. Never has one ever felt a bleaker moment than completing a novel or movie and googling to discover that there is no set date or a date is set but well in the future for the continuation of the story.
I have stepped into the world of Outlander as part of the latter category. The first book was released in 1991 which was a bit of a shock for me when I read this. The TV series is also about to release its fourth season. I’ve come to learn that each season is comparable to each book though having started the first season on Netflix I have already noticed a few minor differences, though nothing that crawls under a book readers skin like some other Hollywood adaptations of novels.
Claire Beauchamp has just survived the ravages of the second world war as a field nurse. Claire and her husband, Frank Randall, are taking some much needed time to themselves vacationing in the Highlands of Scotland to recover and also to reconnect after being apart for so many years. Frank has taken to genealogy, specifically his own, and is taking the time in Scotland to dig into the roots of his family tree. While intriguing but not altogether that interesting to Claire, a few minor facts and bits of information provided by Frank’s digging become increasingly useful when Claire is thrust two hundred years into the past. Without knowing how she came to be there or how to return, her situation becomes even more perilous being a British woman, alone in the Scottish Highlands with knowledge of such things that no one, let alone a woman, should know.
Claire has seen and survived many things during the war which allow her to endure things that most woman, and men, could scarcely imagine. Together with her knowledge of plants, medicine, history, and politics, it is not hard to understand why many believe Claire to be a spy, or more fitting for the times, a witch. There is a strength to Claire’s character as well as a vulnerability that makes her more relatable rather than some stoic heroine who appears to be on a predictable train track with the end planned and in sight. Still, some of her choices are questionable, but without these choices, we wouldn’t have a series or a novel, now would we?
You can always tell an authors interests and education based on the details that are added to any novel and Gabaldon does not disappoint when it comes to details. With that said there is a fine line between full of details and long-winded. Gabaldon rates low in comparison to some other long-winded authors, but with the size of the books, I often wondered whether or not certain scenes were relevant to where the story was going. Sometimes when an author creates a world it is nice to idle in the details for fear of rushing through, leaving the park with no pictures and only a blur of memories. Other times you can’t help your mind from wandering while the tour guide drones on.
I must admit that there is some additional appreciation for the novel having discovered how old it actually is. Outlander, known by various titles depending on what part of the world you hail from, was written by Gabaldon in an attempt to see if she was capable of completing a novel. Having told no one about her plans she seems to have stumbled on a niche of avid readers which have created quite a following for the series. I cannot say how my appreciation for the books would differ had I discovered them sooner, but in the post-Fifty Shades of Grey era that we live in I can’t help but have a few minor issues with the novel. The history lesson and details of the past in the Scottish Highlands were intriguing at times, but let’s be frank (or more accurately, Jamie) can we please just get on with the fucking? Give me a little less lecture hall and a little more Harlequin, am I right? I’m not saying that it should be the pinnacle or focus of the book, but a little more barechested swinging from the stables would have been more interesting than picking weeds in the middle of nowhere.
Though I’ve had a rather negative opinion about the book thus far, you have to give credit to Gabaldon for some of the things I have harped on. The attention to detail does make it a more sophisticated setting taking it from tween nipple tweaking to more realistic mommy porn. I absolutely loved the characters from some of the more minor, to those of the more loathing in the spotlight. At the time of this review, I have not completely decided where I stand on the series. I am hoping once I complete the first season on Netflix I may be able to formulate a better opinion. As things stand now, I am leaning more towards continuing the series through Netflix and enduring the length of time that will be required to complete the story rather than sifting through the Encyclopedia Gabaldontanica.
- Prologue courtesy of Diana Gabaldon’s webpage.