Oh, Outlander. Where do I even start? Let me count the ways, I love you!! ….uh, sorry… #kiddingnotkidding But seriously, out of nearly 22,000 reviews on amazon.com, 76% are 5 stars! That’s over 16,000 5 star reviews – trust me when I say I’m not the only one who LOVES these books. ❤️
The first book, Outlander, begins just after WWII has ended, with Claire and Frank Randall taking a second honeymoon in Scotland to reconnect after being separated by military service during the war. A chance visit to an old stone henge during their holiday has Claire waking up 200 years in the past, smack in the middle of a skirmish between the English Redcoats and a group of Scottish Highlanders. Claire has to think quickly and adapt even faster to her unfamiliar surroundings in order to survive and work out a way to return to her husband, in her own time.
Through a series of political machinations, she finds herself forced to marry a young Scot named Jamie, in order to keep herself safe. She had known Jamie from the start of her time in the past and while friendly with him, was still desperately trying to get back to Frank. Slowly, a love begins to grow between Jamie and Claire as he proves himself to be her champion time and again. When an opportunity arises for her to return to her own time and Frank, she’s torn between the two men and must make a pivotal choice – stay in the past? Or go back to her own time?
Over the course of the book, Outlander, and indeed the whole series of books that follow, both Claire and Jamie suffer unspeakable horrors, yet their love for each other is only strengthened and becomes a timeless love story.
Outlander is the first in a series of (currently) 8 books written by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve read the series all the way through twice and have read Outlander four times. (yes… #fangirl) At this point, reading an Outlander book is like sitting down with an old friend for a cozy chat.
These books are beautifully written. Diana Gabaldon has a magnificent ability to transport you through her words. I feel as though I’m able to hear, see, smell and feel exactly what the characters do in each scene – it’s truly an immersive experience. While I can’t say that I love all the books equally (everyone is bound to have a favorite or two), they are all worth reading and do a great job of advancing the characters and the storyline. Diana nimbly walks the fine line of providing too many details, bogging down the story progression, and giving you enough to paint a rich tapestry in your mind – connecting you emotionally and giving you a vested interest in the characters so many have come to love.
The series really does have it all – action, suspense, adventure, and a dash of romance thrown in. But the biggest draw, in my opinion, is how well you get to dive in and KNOW the characters over the span of the series. This is not just about Claire and Jamie falling in love, or surviving one trial, or having one adventure – it’s about the complex relationship that develops over decades spent together and apart in a marriage. It’s about how you manage the awful crap life throws at you and if you use it to build a stronger foundation or if you let it tears yours down.
I highly recommend these books to anyone who will listen! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read them or if you’re going to check them out!
Trigger warning: this is a rather accurate historical fiction and includes descriptions of several violent scenes (flogging and rape). Please rest assured they are not gratuitous and are pivotal to the character development and overall plot. But, no, they’re not fun scenes to read.