Lost in a Scotland-induced haze

You know those books that consume you and render you incapable of thinking about anything else or even being useful in any way?  That’s how I feel right now.  I just finished reading “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon and have been living in a Scottish haze ever since I started it last week.  Yesterday I simply couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished, and that’s a rare occurrence for me these days, what with sleep being pretty much the most precious commodity in our house.  Nonetheless, it was impossible to put down.

I love real historical fiction, the kind that you can tell has been well researched by the author, and this is definitely the case with “Outlander.”  Though I know very little about Scottish history, Gabaldon does a good job at convincing me that she’s an expert; family genealogy and history, Gaelic words, traditional songs and ballads, knowledge of medicinal herbs, pagan rites, and Scottish-English relations all combine to create a rich background for an achingly romantic story.

And, oh, the love story… it’s enough to make the least romantic of you quiver at the knees, I swear.  For those of you unfamiliar with the book or needing a little teaser, Claire Randall lives in 1945 before getting transported back to 1743 after touching a magic rock. She tries to get back her present life, but ends up falling in love with a Scottish Highlander.  There are lots of politics going on; it’s just prior to the Jacobite rebellions, and the English army is terrorizing the Scots.  The time travel thing sounds hokey, I know, but at least it is not overdone.  If you can wrap your head around that one fact, you’ll be fine.  I won’t give away any more!

After recovering from a romance-induced swoon as I turned the last page, I went online to read some reviews of the book.  I’m always curious to know what others are thinking.  Apparently, “Outlander” has a bit of a bad reputation, since it’s often categorized in the romance section.  I disagree.  Yes, there are some pretty steamy scenes, but that’s not the focus of the book.  The characterization of Claire and Jamie is great; they’re not portrayed as dashing hero and damsel-in-distress, by any means, but as flawed, intelligent human beings.  It’s also not an easy read; there are scenes of torture that were disturbing, yet do a good job at portraying the brutality with which the English were known for treating the Scots.  (Think “Braveheart.”)  It may not be “classic” literature, but it’s a great read.

Has anyone else read it?  What do you think?!

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10 thoughts on “Lost in a Scotland-induced haze

  1. I’m always looking for fiction recommendations to balance out the nerdy titles. I’ll add this to my list!

  2. I haven’t had a chance to read this book, but I enjoy reading historical novels. In my teens, I read a lot even when I was doing the dishes. Hence, my book got wet, since I placed the book behind the faucet and had to turn the pages periodically. It took me a long time to wash the dishes of the four of us. But I read the books quite quickly.

    1. That’s awesome! I used to read in the tub but then the water would cool down and I’d be sitting there shivering, not wanting to stop reading in order to get out. Now I just squeeze the books in between naps and blogging – somehow 🙂

  3. OMG.

    I’m a huge fan of the Outlander series. Diana gabldon is a a great author (a little verbose at times) But this series is a magnificent. Make sure you friend Diana gabldon on facebook to get all her latest posts. The 8th book in the series is being released next year sometime called ‘Written in my own hearts Blood’. A little tip for starting the next book(Dragonfly in Amber)….You’ll be confused at first but just keep reading and you’ll catch on 🙂 I’m so jealous you’re reading them for the first time !! ENJOY

    PS. Jamie Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser is thee hottest fictional character Of. all. time. I love him and am really sad that my chance of giving birth to a little boy with red hair are gone because I would name him Jamie in a heartbeat.

    1. That’s so funny, because just today I told my husband I want to have a third baby boy just so we can name him Jamie! He wasn’t too keen on that idea 🙂 You’re right, I am really confused with the second book. I’m about 50 pages in and totally devastated to find Claire in the present day… what happened?!?! Where’s Jamie??? I know he’ll reappear soon enough, but the anticipation is both killing and depressing me simultaneously.

  4. Hmm…intriguing… I enjoy historical fiction and I have been fascinated with Scotland and it’s island neighbour for years and this sounds like it has the depth of detail and all to make it really enjoyable.
    On the other hand I’m always apprehensive of overly romantic tales – though you seem to think otherwise and the mention of torture and brutality as well as possibly non-cliched characters is promising in keeping it from being a cliched genre book.
    Might just give it a try – I have no problem with the time-travel thing unless is just really badly explained rather than just used as plot device and moved away from thereafter.
    Thanks, cheers.

  5. I read it in my teens, which means all that I remember about it is how very much I loved it. I often think about revisiting it. Perhaps I should add it to my 2012 list, or indeed pick it up from a bookstore tomorrow. The books I brought on my trip aren’t capturing my attention.

  6. Notice how no-one ever bothers to write stories about the brutal way invading Scottish armies terrorised the English folk during history. I think the idea of eevil English and their poor wee Scottish victims is so embedded in the psyche of certain countries that the butchery caused by marauding Scottish armies will always be ignored. It’s just too politically incorrect to be acknowledged.

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