A Book Review: Outlander

A few weeks ago, Joey and I stopped into Barnes and Noble so he could find a book for himself. While strolling through the aisles of the fiction section, I saw a big thick book propped up on one of the lower shelves. I pointed at it and very jokingly said, “There ya go, Joey, read that little one.” Then I gave the book a closer look, and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I’m reading that!”

Oh the joys of reading something on your Kindle and not being able to see a physical copy of the book.

I found Outlander by Diana Gabaldon in my mom’s Amazon collection (I believe it came highly recommended by a client of hers) and yes, it’s very long. I find it so much harder to review a lengthy book. There’s so much going that I basically find it impossible to deem it all good or all bad. And this book, how do you even classify it? It is a book about time travel? Is it a love story? Is it an action novel? Or is it a historical fiction that takes place during the 18th Century in Scotland? All of the above!

I won’t bore you by recapping the entire plot, but I’ll give you the gist. The main character, Claire, accidentally time travels back to 18th Century, where she meets the ancestor of her husband. He becomes the villain of the story. She goes on to marry and fall in love with a younger Scottish redhead named Jamie and the rest of the novel revolves around all the trouble they constantly find themselves in.

Overall, there was plenty to enjoy about the book. By the end, I felt like I had such a clear sense of who all the characters were and genuinely liked most of them. The romance between Claire and Jamie was very endearing and I loved the historical aspect of the book. I was a few credits away from a history minor in college, but I couldn’t get the hang of writing those history papers. Something about my writing being too “flowery.” I don’t know what those professors were talking about, considering how short and to the point this post is…

What I didn’t like, however, was all the rape and violence going on. I know that was typical of 18th Century Scotland, but it just isn’t my thing. And the book was a little, ahem, long. Did I mention Outlander is a seven book series? I just didn’t love it enough to read the other six. I guess I’ll just forever be in suspense about what happens between Claire and Jamie.

On to something shorter and less violent.

Do you mind reading a long book?

If you start a series do you finish it no matter what?

What are you reading right now?

5 thoughts on “A Book Review: Outlander

  1. I actually really enjoy long books. At the moment I’m (still) reading Les Misérables. I’ve really enjoyed the depth of detail that length allows Hugo. However, sometimes it can be a bit much. I’ve gotten bogged down in some of the details of the battle of Waterloo that Hugo is writing about. That’s slowed me down quite a bit for two reasons.

    For starters, I don’t know much about the battle, so it’s not as easy for me to read about as, say, the battle of Gettysburg. Since I already know the people and places of Gettysburg, it’s easy for me to read a narrative about it and picture what’s going on. Hugo’s description of Waterloo, however, isn’t as embedded in the minds of those outside of the audience he was writing for. 21st century Americans simply are not going to know as much about the battle as 19th century French (or English) readers would have. Because of that, the narrative is not as easy to follow for a reader like me.

    Additionally, while I know that details of much of that era of French history are critical to understanding Hugo’s plot, I’m finding that the detail that he goes into about the battle of Waterloo has been a big detour to the story of Jean Valjean and Cosette, at least for me. I was reading at my very fast pace as the story of Jean Valjean, Fantine and Cosette played out and then Bam! There was this detour to Waterloo. It just didn’t work for me, and it slowed me down to a snail’s pace.

    I really need to focus on getting through this section of the book, though, because I’m sure that the plot will pick back up and I’ll be reading as quickly as I can again. And once I get to that point, I’ll again enjoy the detail that length allows.

    As for the question about a series, there are times when I didn’t finish a book, let alone a whole series. I’ve tried about three different times now to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. There are a myriad of reasons that I’ve failed that one. There’s a part of me that wants to finish the book much like I returned twice to Taylor Peak in RMNP to conquer it after being turned around on previous attempts. There’s also a part of me that says my life and the reading time it allows are limited and I should concentrate on reading stuff that interests me or is useful to me. From the 1/4 or so of the book that I read, Infinite Jest just doesn’t seem like it’d be the type of book that would fulfill either requirement. So it sits on my shelf.

    Alas, speaking of length, it seems that I’ve rambled long enough for one blog reply. Have a great day!

  2. Hands down this is one of my all time fav series. I know they are long, complex, and daunting but all in all, the series is solid and amazing. I struggled with the violence, war, and raping as well but at the same time the romance and characters helped me get past a majority of it. I love historic fiction as a genre, but some times the violence becomes too much (such as we see in this series and in other books like The Pillars of the Earth, A Song of Ice and Fire series) but in general I try and let the other story lines shine through and ignore some of the more violent scenes.

    In answer to your questions….I don’t mind reading a long book/series (A Song of Ice and Fire series and the Outlander series have been the longest I’ve read) and no I don’t always finish a series no matter what. For example, I just don’t know if I can finish the Fifty Shades of Grey series…..but usually I do finish the series if I start it. 🙂

    Great write up on a personal fav! 🙂

  3. The other six books are great too…but I listened to them (except for two which are not available in full). The narrator, Davina Porter, is fantastic at sounding like different people, male and female, and all different accents…see Audible.

    • Thanks for your comment! Now I’m really intrigued to hear the narrator do all the different voices. I imagine she’s better than the Scottish accent I imagined when I read it!

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