Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: June 01, 2010 to June 01, 2011
Read count: 3

3 stars for the book alone, 4 stars for the ways in which it ties into the whole narrative

There’s a lot to like and a lot to hate about this book, which makes it great for book club discussions.

Overall, I thought it was a 3-star story. I liked it for the most part, but there were parts with which I had issues. The one extra star is because this book is the foundation of the series. You appreciate it more only when you look back and see how much the series has expanded.

It would be a mistake to label this book as romance. People who do that are missing out on an interesting story that spans three centuries.

There’s an important romantic relationship at the center that drives the story, but that’s only the least of it. There’s also intertwining historical story lines, the unease of impending war, and a time travel plot that forces the main character to choose between staying in the past or returning to the present, with all the emotional impact of contemporary literary fiction.

Once you get to the point where Claire goes back in time and you don’t buy it, it’s probably best to stop reading. This book is probably not for you.

I will admit that I would have given this book a 3-star rating after my initial read through. It just didn’t feel like there was much depth to the story overall. At the time, I didn’t know how great or important the events in this book were or how they’d come to affect events in later books and the Second Rising overall.

It wasn’t until I’d read Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager that I came to appreciate Outlander and all of its “wandering nuances.” It wasn’t until I finished these two books afterward that it hit me how immense the scope and breadth of the story are, how heartbreaking twenty years apart can be, how devastating the aftermath of war really is. I didn’t feel any of these things until I got through the first three books.

* * * * *

Outlander and its fanbase, just a different perspective on the series as a whole.

* * * * *

One of my favorite quotes

I leaned back on my elbows and basked in the warming spring sun. There was a curious peace in this day, a sense of things working quietly in their proper courses, nothing minding the upsets and turmoils of human concerns. Perhaps it was the peace that one always finds outdoors, far enough away from buildings and clatter. Maybe it was the result of gardening, that quiet sense of pleasure in touching growing things, the satisfaction of helping them thrive. Perhaps just the relief of finally having found work to do, rather than rattling around the castle feeling out of place, conspicuous as an inkblot on parchment.


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