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.
Published 1st June 1991
Must Read – 5 stars
Read from 13th to 24th March
So I know this took me such a long time to read; to read it start to finish but also to pick it up in the first place. I am happy to report, however, that I loved it. Overall it just made me feel at home and I always like reading Scottish books especially if they’re written with some Scots dialect. Being Scottish myself I did have some reservations going in and there were a few things that weren’t on the mark but they were completely forgivable.
So I had watched the TV show before reading this and I thought I would maybe skip over the scene that I didn’t like in the show because they just didn’t fit with the overall story but the scenes I didn’t like weren’t in this.
I can’t believe how much this felt like the TV show but just how much better it was. I know… people always say the book is better but the show was so widely well received that I thought it would be pretty close. I just enjoyed the variety of characters more in this and how it wasn’t so basic in its plot.
Most of all I loved that it was first person because it just made the whole thing more cohesive. I also like that there were no Frank sections because they were just not interesting to me. I liked Claire as a character, she was clearly flawed and made stupid mistake, some of which I understood and others I didn’t. But hey! What you gonna do about it?
I can’t tell if Jamie is too perfect because he clearly has some flaws but for the most part it just seems all too convenient. Don’t get me wrong I love him and of course he’s swoon worthy but just like a lot of books he’s sort of portrayed as the perfect male protagonist until he does some stupid thing and then is miraculously forgiven. I can’t really say that I find him all that Scottish in all honesty. The TV show actually does portray that better, but the rest of the characters definitely come off as Scots and their personalities are great. I love Murtaugh, he’s just excellent, he feels very different in the book from the TV show but I love him in both. He’s just one of my new favourite characters, he feels so underrated but he just has qualities that I admire. I also really like Rupert and to some extent Dougal. I was sad when there was very little of Angus, basically none in fact. I loved him and Rupert together so that’s another reason to watch the show.
Also can we talk about Jenny, there’s so much about strong female characters but I challenge you to find me a more realistic stronger female character than Jenny, lead or otherwise. I just loved reading the scenes with her and I hope that we get more of here wherever possible. I really admire when an author can create strong side characters and really puts work into their backstory and personality.
Actually, to lead off from that point, I loved the writing. It was just so well done especially for my reading style. Unlike with the Name of the Wind (another big book I really struggled with this month) I just didn’t want to put this down and was excited each time I picked it up. I just wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters and to see the situations they entered into. I especially loved the dialogue, I am a sucker for well-constructed speech and in all honesty it is my favourite way to consume a story and that is exactly what this was.
This is a horribly tragic story and it always feels like nothing goes in the right direction. I do wonder about how the sequels are but I do want to read the next one and if I can relatively soon. I have so many books on my TBR that it’s hard to give priority to big books but The Dragonfly in Amber will be going on my to read soon list.
There is some sexual content in this but way less than I was expecting from watching the show. It is nowhere near as graphic and descriptive and detailed as some other books I’ve read (e.g. ACOTAR series, A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), so if you’ve read ACOTAR especially then I don’t see why you can’t read this.
I loved this as a historical fiction and I really connected with how the author didn’t shy away from the brutality and violence of that era, she both discussed it during the highland wars and WWII. I am especially glad of the documentation of the highland troubles and I read the some of the book at a place called “Rest and be Thankful” which was a strategic place for the military to squash any highland uprising and the road still stands to this day. It documents Scotland and in light of how much people ignore Scotland as part of the UK and not just England it is nice as a Scottish national to be recognised in fiction.
Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With its breath-taking scenery and its enticing history and its magical nature I really love my country and I’m glad that people get to be a part of it. Although I am a lowlander I will always stand by the place and am willing to learn about highland culture and it can feel so different to my home city of Glasgow.
Now you may wonder why I am comparing the show and the book so much and it’s because, for me, they are so intertwined. It is not fair to not state that my reading experience was not influence by the show because the characters looked like the TV variants, not their descriptions. I would honestly recommend both to people. I can understand why people wouldn’t want to read such a big book and I think its ok for them to watch the TV shows because that’s how I found myself wanting to read the book.
This is a must read, and yes, that is an entirely biased opinion.
That’s all folks!