Series: Outlander, #1
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 1st, 1991
Length: 550 pages/ 32 hours 49 minutes
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 resisted reading this for so long because:
a) I’m not a big romance fan (sex scenes make me uncomfortable, and unrealistically ideal characters fill me with rage)
b) I know a good deal about Scottish history, having been obsessed with it (and Scottish culture, music, food, and *ahem* boys) during my teens. I’ve been there. I’ve walked the heart-breaking Culloden battlefield. I was nervous as hell that Gabaldon’s historical fiction would be a shallow Scottish setting.
But then my co-author, who is also not a romance fan, was singing the praises of the Showtime show, and some of the season 2 scenes have inspired him to write…and the next thing you know, I’m picking up my copy and getting around to reading it.
Color me pleasantly surprised. The history and culture is surprisingly complex, the romance is steamy but tactfully done, and the unbelievable bits are interspersed with morally-grey ensemble cast scenes and driving tension. That’s really the best thing to recommend the book- the tension stayed consistent throughout all 550 pages, a surprising feat.
I am definitely going to pick up book 2, and watch the show. And, maybe (maybe) give other historical romance series a try.