Books, Review

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon ****

Outlander

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.

I found this book in a little second-hand bookstore in Avignon (France) while we were on holiday and I immediately started reading it. I read and read and read, every chance I got. The 8 hours we spent driving home, I settled in on the back seat with a pillow and a blanket and I read some more. Eventually, I ended up halfway through the book by the time we got home. My copy was already starting to fall apart.

And then I made the mistake of starting to watch the tv series. I had been telling my husband about what I was reading and convinced him to watch the show with me. Looking back it was the worst thing I could have possibly done. The tv series is great, very very very entertaining and we flew through it. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to keep up the same pace with my reading and I soon fell behind. I hate reading a book when I already know what’s going to happen.

For some reason, we then stopped watching the show with only two episodes left to go. I finished the book but we never finished watching the series. How sad is that? 🙂

I thought the book was very interesting because since I’m from Belgium, we never really went into the history and the conflict of Scotland and England. Some years ago, we visited the Lake District and went to Carlisle and an abbey that was build with stones from Hadrian’s wall (I can’t find the name anymore, if you happen to know what it’s called let me know. It has a little church next to it.). While we were at the abbey, we started chatting with the woman selling the tickets (she was really nice!! we stayed there talking for over an hour.) and she told us a little about the history of the surrounding area. It really stayed with me. For me the book set the scene perfectly, it told me a lot of things that I didn’t know and there were a lot of little details which I loved. (For example, when Claire is treating someone she always tells you what she’s doing and why)

I really liked Claire, because she’s very outspoken (I mean, she just can’t help herself). She curses and speaks her mind and  the men just don’t know what to think of her. This leads to a lot of awkward situations. It showed the gap in time and all that had changed since perfectly. Claire is a strong woman, hardened by what she has seen during her time as a nurse in the war. I have to admit, the constant struggle of Frank or Jamie started to get on my nerves after a while.

So let’s talk about Jamie. The way this book is written means you can’t help but fall for him but I won’t pretend like he’s my dream man. He’s interesting (and tv show Jamie is handsome as hell) but he’s also arrogant and mean sometimes. There’s also the fact that he lives in another time where women are looked down upon and although he loves Claire, he has been raised in this way and the people around him expect him to act a certain way towards her. Those were the moments that made me cringe the most. A woman’s word didn’t count back then and Diana Gabaldon doesn’t make you forget that. It makes it an honest book.

So yes, I liked it a lot but I’m convinced I would have given it five stars if I hadn’t started watching the tv show.

Have you read the book?
Have you watched the tv series?
Can you compare them? Which one did you like best? (I liked the book more because it had more detail but I preferred the witch scene on tv. I thought it was better played out.)

Love

Ellen

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