Goodreads Synopsis: The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
I finally finished it!
Before I talk about Outlander, I would just like to warn those who may be interested in reading this book… There are LOTS of sex scenes, there are scenes where Claire is almost raped MULTIPLE times and there is a scene where Claire is spanked as punishment. This is a spoiler, but towards the end is a very graphic male on male rape scene. This is definitely not a light hearted read.
Do not let the beginning discourage you. A lot of people, including myself, struggled with the first part of the book. It feels like it drags on forever. Everything picks up once Claire goes back in time. From then on it has a pretty good flow, until the last 100 or so pages, that seemed to drag by for me.
Diana Gabaldon is an excellent storyteller. She describes everything in great detail, there were times where I felt like I was there in Scotland instead of lying around reading. She did a phenomenal job with Jamie and Claire too. They felt so real. All of the characters were well-developed.
Sam Heughan plays Jamie in the show. I must insert a picture just for the heck of it. Swooooon. What a babe.
I quite enjoyed the book, but I feel like there was too much fluff at times. Lots of daily life story filler stuff. It was interesting, but a lot of it didn’t contribute to the story. Instead of having a nearly 1,000 page book, it could have easily been 400-500 pages.
So the parts a lot of people have issues with.
1) The sex. After Jamie and Claire get married they have A LOT of sex. I personally wasn’t bothered by the 99% sex scenes because they were well written. Most of them faded to black. A few of them kind of felt unnecessary to me. If sex bothers you, the scenes can easily be skipped. You won’t miss anything important.
2) I lost track of the amount of times Claire was nearly raped by random people throughout the book. Rape is pretty common in historical fiction, but I’ve never read about a character being in that situation SO MANY times before until now. A lot of people say Diana Gabaldon romanticized rape in this book… she definitely didn’t. This book shows the reality of the world and it’s horrifying. Keep in mind how things were drastically different then.
3) Jamie spanks Claire after she disobeys him. Afterwards he has sex with her despite her protests. This was the one thing in the book that bothered me the most and made me want to stop reading. As disgusting as it is, it was the norm back then for men to beat their wives. I constantly had to remind myself how different things used to be. Afterwards Jamie promises to never hit Claire again, and from reading through forums and book reviews, I’ve learned that he keeps his promise.
4) SPOILERS: The man on man rape scene made me feel physically ill. I wish Diana Gabaldon hadn’t described it. Thinking about it now makes my heart break.
Ah! I nearly forgot. When Claire “ransoms” Jamie’s soul… That scene really stuck out, in a bad way. I feel like it didn’t fit in with the book at all and it doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve read interpretations of it, but it still bothers me.
So despite the huge flaws (sexual assault and female oppression), I really enjoyed the book. I can’t wait to see where the story goes.
In comparison to the show, I think the first half of the season was pretty loyal to the book. The second half? I wasn’t a big fan. They changed up a lot of things, and they gave Jamie a personality change.