Outlander: Book summary and reviews of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander
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  • Published in USA  Jun 1991
    640 pages
    Genre: Love Stories

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Book Summary

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone 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's destiny is soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning 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 passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The smartest historical sci-fi adventure/romance ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting Uncle Scrooge comic books." - Salon

"Absorbing and heartwarming, this first novel lavishly evokes the land and lore of Scotland, quickening both with realistic characters and a feisty, likable heroine." - Publishers Weekly

"A satisfying treat, with extra scoops of excitement and romance." - Kirkus Reviews

"It is a large canvas that Gabaldon paints, filled with strong passions and derring-do. Strong willed and sensual, Claire is an engaging modern heroine plopped down in a simpler, more primitive time.... Great fun ...marvelous and fantastic adventures, romance, sex ...perfect escape reading!" - San Francisco Chronicle

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Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

Addictive
Outlander (also titled Cross Stitch) is the first book in the Outlander series by American author, Diana Gabaldon. Claire Beauchamp Randall, ex-army nurse, is on vacation in Scotland with her husband Frank, a historian. It’s 1946, and they are combining Frank’s quest for more information about his ancestors with the opportunity to reconnect after six years of wartime apart. Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall was apparently active in the area, back in the eighteenth century.

A visit to the Standing Stones at Craigh na Dun goes awry when Claire suddenly finds herself at the edges of a battle between the English garrison and the Highlanders. It becomes apparent that this is no longer 1946. And while the garrison commander looks like Frank, and claims to be Jonathan Randall, his behaviour soon has her grateful for her rescue by a Highlander. Her nursing skills bring her in close contact with an injured Scottish outlaw, Jamie Fraser.

Despite wanting desperately to get back to Frank in 1946, after four months, Claire is astounded to be married to Jamie, hunted by Randall and living in the primitive conditions of the eighteenth century. Even more surprisingly, she realises she is happy. But it is 1743, and Claire knows that the dramatic events of Culloden are not far off.

Gabaldon gives the reader a tale that is part romance, part adventure, part historical and part sci-fi. She manages to include a Highland Gathering, plenty of fights and battles, torture, flogging, imprisonment, a wedding, a childbirth, a reunion, a channel crossing, a very novel prison escape, an opium-fuelled mental healing, a witch trial, quite a bit of sex and perhaps even a touch of magic. Despite the 800 pages that contain a wealth of information about the Scottish Highlands in the eighteenth century, the characters and the plot are so compelling that this page-turner that will have readers seeking out the second volume in the series, Dragonfly in Amber. Addictive.

Jennifer P

Everything A Book Should Be
I love historical fiction at its best when it teaches me history without seeming for a single moment to be teaching and only seeming to entertain. How fabulous this book is in that respect! There is a love story that is so powerful it causes Claire to give up her entire life for Jamie, and they experience harrowing adventures aplenty. In the meantime, I'm learning all about Scottish history, and look forward to additional books in this series - to learn more of the powerful love between Claire and Jamie and to learn more of Scottish history.

The author has obviously done incredible research, and at the same time has an excellent grasp of human emotions. Though the story is not "realistic", it is what I WISH was realistic (with or without the time travel). I want to BE there and KNOW Claire and Jamie and their extended family and friends.

Finally, as I listened to this as an audible book, I want to praise Davina Porter's narration - through her, I know how the words are all pronounced, and her Scottish accent is so charming and understandable, it adds another layer to the feeling of being there with the characters. I highly recommend this book for anybody with an interest in historical fiction (spiced up with romance, which I usually don't like, so it must be pretty good) and Scottish history in general.

Vicky S. (Torrance, CA)

Can't Believe I'd MIssed it Until Now
There is so much going on in this book just like the cover describes. It has something for everyone with history, romance, timetravel etc. I liked that the main characters had to make very serious choices that effect the lives of themselves as well as others around them. The main female character is also quite able to take care of herself in a variety of circumstances. All of these situations would create great discussions for book clubs.

Kelly H. (Martinsville, IN)

Fantastic Adventure!
Wow! Outlander is an adventure, romance, and historical fiction novel rolled into one. Gabaldon's research is amazing! I never though I would be so happy learning about 18th century Scotland, but told by Gabaldon, it's captivating. At 600 pages, it's too long and involved for the book club I'm in, but I think it could be tackled by serious book clubbers. Don't finish this book without having the next one in the series on your nightstand!

Steve B. (Spring, TX)

Captivating Chronicle
When I saw that Outlander consisted of 850 pages of small type, I doubted that the author could hold my interest for such an extended period. Boy, was I wrong. The pace was brisk and the content was absorbing. I hated to put it down.

The plot presents a number of moral and ethical dilemmas for the hero and especially the heroine. She manages to justify her actions and gains support from friends and clergy. To sum up the moral of this story I would say... Love (or Lust?) conquers all!

Shelby L. (Hamden, CT)

Superb read
When I received Outlander I was sure I'd never get into it since time travel is not my thing nor are lengthy historical novels. Was I ever wrong. There is not much to add that hasn't been said in the other reviews but ignore the naysayers among them and read this. Love, lust, violence, history, war, religion..it's all there and so well written, it's hard to put down.

...35 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Diana Gabaldon Author Biography

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling Outlander novels.

The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes a nonfiction companion volume, The Outlandish Companion, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels. Gabaldon has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series): Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner.

Returning to her comic-book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled The Exile. The graphic novel is illustrated by Hoang Nguyen, and published by Del-Rey.

Gabaldon is presently...

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