Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Outlander


This novel I picked up at the urging of my Aunt and older cousin. Both of whom I look up to and take their literary opinions to hart because they love books as much as I do, but they love a different genre. They are very much into the romantics and mysteries, they are quite possibly one of Jane Austen's biggest fans, and most life experiences can be compared to scenes in books.

I've been on this kick for the past year to dive into genres that I am not quite so comfortable with. Books that have certainly sounded interesting enough. Books that have certainly seemed to be literary classics. But books that I none the less stayed away from for most of my life.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was the book which kept being brought up in every discussion I had with my aunt and cousin while talking of books. Not just books though, they brought it up whenever we spoke of travel, or better yet travel to the UK (a place I have longed to visit all of my life).

"You have to read Outlander! It's this great book about this woman who gets brought back in time after touching a rock and meets this wonderful Scottish man whose handsome and the classic Highlander with the kilt and tartan!" my cousin had exclaimed during dinner back in October. My aunt had generally said the same thing so I made a mental note of it all but forgot the name of the book. It wasn't until January that my aunt told me the name once more and I happily purchased it at the bookstore I worked at.

The copy I bought is paperback and nearly 900 pages long. If you intend to read this book or the series and are afraid of page numbers consider this your warning. It is a long book. When I first began to read it I was back and forth with interest. Things kept coming up to get in the way of reading. My friend came to visit for three days and I was too busy enjoying her company to burrow off by myself and read. Then my dog died (it sounds like a horrible excuse but it did, indeed, happen.) and I was too upset and heartbroken to have much care for a book. After some time I picked the book up again and have been reading about 200 pages a night ever since.

Today, I read 300 pages worth amongst doing other things and allow me to say that I feel like my eyes are about to bleed.

But moving onto the story! It's lovely and I do intend to read the next book in the series. I already bought it in fact and am glad I hadn't wasted the money. I was initially apprehensive of the story after my cousins description. A woman getting sucked back in time due to touching a rock? What is that? It sounds like some stupid SciFi show. But it does indeed happen and with a lot more class then I had originally pictured.

Imagine you are walking through the woods (although in the book it takes place at a rock gathering much like Stonehenge) and you decide to rest your hand on a large bolder but suddenly you feel yourself being torn through time. Time boys and girls. Hundreds of years. You open your eyes and you are exactly where you were before but now there is what seems to be a small battle being raged near you. What would you do? How would you react?

Gabaldon takes you into the main character Claire's mind and displays the obvious confusion and hesitance to this world she has found herself in. Much like any normal person she tries to reason with herself, convince herself that this did not happen, and then tries to make herself (with time) believe it had happened. I feel that Gabaldon was quite on with how a person would react to a situation such as this. Finding her feelings for the handsome Scottish lad while she knows full well that she left an adoring husband behind two hundred years in the future.

But the story doesn't linger on the fact that Claire had been transported back in time. Life goes on no matter what occurs to you, don't think you are ever so special that the world will stop because of you, and it happens such as this for Claire. The politics of 18th century Scotland continue and so do their common beliefs.

Many topics that cause stir are brought up in this book. Rape, beating your children, torturing prisoners, witch craft, and the lack of power women had at that time. Gabaldon leaves little to the imagination in being very clear of each issue and how the scenes play out. She is also quick to have a more current brain considering all of these actions and reacting much as anyone in this present day would if they were standing amongst a bunch of people who clearly believe there are witches and they are Satan's mistress.

One thing that truly impressed me was that Gabaldon clearly depicted the Scottish accents. I am a girl born and raised in New York and have never stepped a toe out of the United States. I have heard Scottish accents only through television and movies. But Gabaldon wrote the accents out so that while I read the story I heard the Scottish characters speaking in their Scottish accent. It was wonderful and easy to believe. However, that is in my own opinion, I wonder what Scottish people would see of the writing or someone who is more used to the Scottish accent.

I absolutely loved all the characters that were featured in the book- even the bad ones. Mainly because these characters were all well rounded and there wasn't any room for question. There weren't plot holes nor any truly surprising changes in any of them. They were who they were and they stayed that way. They were incredibly well developed so if you were meant to like a character you most certainly did and if you were meant to hate one well by God you hated that character.

There is only one complaint that I have about the book. The character Claire on several occasions would break out into uncontrollably laughter at points where I truly did not understand why she was laughing nor was it made clear. That was a bother but nothing worth destroying the decency of the story. Claire also makes an assortment of references to different sayings and people from our present day and I came to wonder if those phrases or people existed at the time that she had left her own present day (pre-1950's). And yet, I was in no way willing to sit down the book to do some research and find out. This book was by my side until forty minutes ago when I finished it.
On a scale of one to five, I'd give this book five. I really enjoyed it, even if it made my eyes bleed.
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2 comments:

  1. I'm glad you reviewed this book. Many older women mention it and having a peer around my age mention it makes me more interested. I have looked for it on occasion but the first book is usually missing. Might have to search tonight.

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  2. So I went and bought it yesterday and I'm about a 100 page in and I am waiting for it to get somewhere with the people she is meeting. I'm so impatient.

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