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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
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Outlander (1991)

by Diana Gabaldon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Outlander (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,604580190 (4.28)2 / 875
  1. 164
    Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati (pollywannabook)
    pollywannabook: The closest thing to Outlander out there. Diana Gabaldon even lent out the character of Claire for a cameo in this book
  2. 81
    The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (Iudita)
  3. 115
    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Anonymous user, SunnySD)
  4. 62
    Timeline by Michael Crichton (leahsimone)
  5. 41
    The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (littlebear514)
    littlebear514: Although the stories are COMPLETELY different; the writing is of the same quality and the stories are both deeply involved.
  6. 30
    The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway (redheadedali)
  7. 10
    Son of the Morning by Linda Howard (amyblue)
  8. 10
    Overseas by Beatriz Williams (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Romance and time travel.
  9. 10
    Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart (LiddyGally)
    LiddyGally: I recommend this book because the writing styles are in a similar vein rather than the stories being the same. Both, however, are set in the wilds of Scotland.
  10. 10
    Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine (bucketyell)
  11. 00
    Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George (MissBrangwen)
  12. 00
    The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (aynar)
    aynar: Much better example of time travel.
  13. 00
    The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (LAKobow)
    LAKobow: Also involves elements of realism mixed with fantasy, Scotland, romance, and historical fiction.
  14. 00
    The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Though Banks' novel is set in present day (and is considerably shorter), the love story with the gorgeous backdrop of Scotland was reminiscent of Gabaldon's series.
  15. 00
    The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll (infiniteletters)
  16. 11
    In a Wild Wood by Sasha Lord (Jenson_AKA_DL)
    Jenson_AKA_DL: If you enjoyed the romance between Clare and Jamie I think you'll also enjoy this Highlander romance.
  17. 11
    The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Historical romance, hooray!
  18. 00
    Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins (Joles)
  19. 00
    Vrouwe van Llyn by Jane Watt (margarethmiwy)
  20. 01
    InuYasha, Volume 1 by Rumiko Takahashi (mene)
    mene: Both stories are about a female protagonist who travels a few hundred years to the past and meets a male whom she falls in love with. In both stories, the female protagonist travels back and forth to the past and her own time. "Inuyasha" is historical fantasy (it includes demons) and "Outlander" is historical fiction (the main characters get involved in historical events).… (more)

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English (568)  German (5)  Dutch (4)  Italian (3)  French (3)  Tagalog (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (586)
Showing 1-5 of 568 (next | show all)
At first this book was slow to me, however once Claire went back in time it pick up. I do feel that the book could have fewer pages. Some detail to me was just rambling, which made it hard to read. Over all I loved the book. ( )
  Calisandria | Dec 17, 2014 |
The time travel, escapism and historical setting of this book is interesting enough to have kept me turning pages. I didn't get into the romantic relationship as much as I would have liked, though I do appreciate Clare is a strong heroine. The emotions and relationships didn't turn on for me emphatically when I read this book, which reduced my starred rating.
( )
  JeaniaK | Dec 13, 2014 |
So did I really think this was worth only two stars? Not really but I don't think it's really on the same level as my three-star books. I did change my rating "system" a bit because of this and rated some books lower than previously. This is probably one of the better historical romances there are but it just isn't my favourite genre.

Anyway, about the book. For the most part it was a pretty enjoyable read but could have used some editing because frankly I got bored during some of the discussions. I am just not that interested in romance and started struggling soon after the wedding. The other problem I had was with the violence. I don't think all of it was necessary, Black Jack was just too evil and his character wasn't explained well enough to make him interesting or believable.

Because it was written in first person, everything that happened had to be witnessed by or told to Claire and that caused some long discussions which made the reading sometimes tedious. But I was interested in the setting and some of the other characters and probably would have enjoyed the relationship of Claire and Jamie much more if there had been less of it. That is probably the reason I am enjoying the new series more, though I also thought the first half of the book was probably better.

I don't usually like pics in reviews, unless they are relevant, but this has to be the cutest pic of a sporran: ( )
  Tytti-K | Nov 29, 2014 |
Outlander (1991) by Diana Gabaldon concerns the adventures of Claire Randall, a British nurse from the 20th century who accidentally travels to 18th century Scotland, falls in love with Jaime Fraser (a Scottish warrior and laird), and has dealings with a sadistic British army officer (Jack Randall), who is the ancestor of her 20th century husband. I went through this book slowly, taking over a year to complete it, and reading multiple other books while in the middle of this one. Please note that this review contains important plot spoilers.

For me, the book's greatest strength is its depiction of life in 18th century Scotland. We learn something (albeit not a whole lot) about life in a variety of settings, including a castle under a Scottish lord, a country manor, and a monastery. We also learn something about the presence of the British military. I found it interesting to see how similar life in 1700s Scotland was in many respects to life in the middle ages (roughly the 500s-1500s). For instance, the Scottish clans seemed to have a Feudal political structure, and the only notable difference in technology was the replacement of bows and crossbows with guns.

Unfortunately, the book has a number of downsides that interfered with my enjoyment. To start, Claire is accepted by people of the 1700s with unrealistic ease. A person brought up in 20th century Britain would have more trouble blending into 18th century society, and in particular, would retain a manner of speaking and doing everyday things that would make her seem more alien. Other characters' belief that Claire is from Britain rather than Scotland would be insufficient to explain her differences.

A more central issue is that too much of the book, particularly non-sex scenes, revolve around sex. The majority of all interactions in the book seem to involve discussion of sex, lust, or closely related topics such as marriage, romantic love, and having children. Even the villain, Jack Randall, is fundamentally motivated by sex (in his case, of the sadistic, homosexual variety), to an extent that seems extremely unrealistic. (A person who was to act as brazenly as Jack Randall would be unlikely to achieve his position of responsibility and authority.) Real people have a wide range of concerns and motivations- from sex and love to pride and altruism, from greed and insecurity to joy and hunger for power. Outlander fails to explore the full repertoire of human emotion, and accordingly fails to craft more realistic and well-rounded characters, by viewing nearly everything through the lens of sex, love, and/or romance.

One way this issue manifests is that essentially every heterosexual, adult male character who has a significant amount of "screen time" is sexually attracted to Claire. This does not feel realistic- there should be more difference of opinion over a person's attractiveness, especially a foreigner from a time two centuries hence (who would be strange and unfamiliar in many ways). I suspect that Gabaldon did this not as a matter of realism, but as a means of making Claire a heroine that she thought her readers would like (and want to be like).

It is also important to mention that Claire is repeatedly sexually abused by different men in the course of the book, at least under a 21st-century (rather than 18th-century) definition of the concept. Gabaldon's questionable portrayal of a female hero in the context of sexual abuse is discussed by the most popular review of the novel here on LibraryThing (as of 11/29/14), written by "joririchardson". You can sort the LibraryThing reviews by popularity to see Jori's review, which offers a modern woman's perspective on this issue.

Gabaldon's treatment of Frank (a professor, Claire's husband in the 20th century) is shallow and unsatisfying. Claire asserts that she loves him greatly, but the only thing we see Frank do that reveals any aspect of his character or personality is to become excited about researching his own genealogy and related historical minutiae, shutting out the outside world in the process. The contrast with the deeper, more interesting character of Jamie is stark and makes Claire's stated attraction to Frank impossible to empathize with. As a result, the reader spends the whole book hoping that she'll stay with Jaime. A better novel would have shown us Frank as a person, so that we could understand the debate Claire claims to be grappling with, and we could understand the difficulty of her decision about whether to return to her husband in the 20th century.

Occasionally but repeatedly throughout the book, Claire and Jamie say or deduce foolish things in a way that sets up a short-lived misunderstanding between them (or at one point between Jamie and his sister). These misunderstandings inevitably seem artificial and forced, as though they were inserted to satisfy a formulaic need for these characters to occasionally have some small arguments. Even when it becomes clear to one character that a misunderstanding has occurred, never does he/she simply and straightforwardly make the necessary correction. Instead, he/she sometimes breaks into laughter, says things that delay clarification, or even says things that make the misunderstanding temporarily worse, in what I presume is Gabaldon's attempt at humor. I found these manufactured, often stupid misunderstandings to be grating and to have a negative impact on the quality of the book.

A different problem with character psychology is how rarely Claire takes serious situations seriously. Even when it's clear that her life is on the line (for example, at a witch trial, one of the most unique sequences in the book), she radiates a certain level of bemusement that reminds me of a person who knows he/she is dreaming. This might be reasonable after only a few days or a week in the 1700s, but not after many months, when the reality of the situation had been accepted by Claire. Claire's responses to serious situations range from odd to completely inappropriate and counter-productive. For instance, when Jamie has a high fever due to a bacterial infection and is weak, exhausted, and delirious, Claire uses trickery to motivate him to get out of bed and flail about wildly, crashing into things in his sickroom. In the book, this miraculously has the effect of curing his fever, but in reality, it would likely make Jamie's condition worse.

Lastly, I'll return to Jack Randall, whose central, defining character trait turns out to be his sexual deviancy. In the first part of the book, this is a minor thing providing flavor, but near the end, it provides the material for Jaime's lengthy, blow-by-blow description of being brutalized and raped. I was surprised at the inclusion of this scene. While sexual abuse is common in the book (and is usually directed at Claire), it typically is portrayed with a somewhat light-hearted tone, with Claire always half-expecting it and never feeling traumatized. In contrast, Gabaldon portrays Jaime's rape as being very traumatizing for him. I'm not sure what Gabaldon was trying to accomplish here, so I won't speculate. I will say that making only the villain sexually deviant is a tired tactic and risks being seen as bigoted in a world where LGBTQ discrimination remains a problem.

Aside from these specific issues, the book is also too long. It does not contain nearly enough plot to justify its considerable length. The dreary progression of page after page, mostly filler, is the reason why it took me so long to eventually finish it.

It is hard for me to rate this book too harshly- it obviously was a great effort to write, and the final product has a certain amount of merit. However, I think it has many weaknesses, and I did not enjoy it. To me, it feels like its primary goal is to be a wish fulfillment fantasy. It may be aiming at people (probably mostly, but not entirely, heterosexual women) who would enjoy dreaming about being in Claire's position: to be young and sexy, whisked away to a time of danger and adventure, and to fall in love with a brave, smart, loyal Scottish nobleman. If that's what you're looking for in a book (and you won't mind the book's dated views on homosexuality and sexual abuse), then "Outlander" might be right up your alley. However, for me, the historical detail was the most interesting part, and I've found that I can obtain a much greater quantity and quality of historical information by reading actual history books. One recent book I read, Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century," is a particularly high-quality example. ( )
1 vote jrissman | Nov 28, 2014 |
I don't know if there's much else I can say that hasn't been said about this book. It sucks you in and doesn't let go, even after the end. Well written, emotional and heart wrenching. Put it on your 'to read' list. ( )
  jkgrage | Nov 24, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Gabaldonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anastassatos, MariettaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carbain, JeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, DavinaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sallamo-Lavi, AnuirmeliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.
Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars.
Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
Usually.
Dedication
To the Memory of My Mother,
Who Taught Me to Read —
Jacqueline Sykes Gabaldon
First words
It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.
Prologue ------ People disappear all the time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
'Outlander' was published in the UK as 'Cross Stitch'.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385319959, Paperback)

In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don't let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It's one of the fastest reads you'll have in your library.

While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn't all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she's never known before.

I was lame and sore in every muscle when I woke next morning. I shuffled to the privy closet, then to the wash basin. My innards felt like churned butter. It felt as though I had been beaten with a blunt object, I reflected, then thought that that was very near the truth. The blunt object in question was visible as I came back to bed, looking now relatively harmless. Its possessor [Jamie] woke as I sat next to him, and examined me with something that looked very much like male smugness."
Gabaldon creates characters that you'll remember, laugh with, cry with, and cheer for long after you've finished the book. --Candy Paape

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:38 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for James Fraser, a young soldier.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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