Ah, finally. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon (ISBN 0440242940; 896p.; Goodreads) was our book club assignment that most of us struggled with, no matter all the good reviews about the it. Now, right away let me clear this up: it’s not a bad book. It’s simply something I am tired of, since I had enough already. If you like Jude Deveraux or Nora Roberts writings, you will most likely love this book. I would too if I had not waded through so much of their writings a year or two ago.
Our protagonist Claire is a fairly modern woman. I say fairly, since she lived in ’40s. She’s a nurse, has a loving husband, and a growing collection of press-dried plants. One day they both travel to Scotland for, again, I’ve no memory what. There she is introduced to local women, who, turns out, practice this homely shamanism (or at least they call it so), sheet togas and dancing among stones included. Clare gets a chance to witness it all, where she notices a strange plant growing by one stone, a stone that seemed to be split by some great force. Upon deciding how to root the plant out, she leans upon that stone and… Time Jumps two hundred years back. I’m not fond of time travel at all! Like at all! I’m the blasphemer who didn’t even watch Dr Who because I dislike the whole time-traveling idea. I don’t know why I dislike it, since I’ve read so many books about it before and didn’t mind, but there it is. The book rubbed me the wrong way from the very first chapters. I’m biased thus, I think. But let’s go on.
Out of the time portal and into a hurl of battle. Savage Scots in kilts against redcoats of England! One of these redcoats, a dragoon commander or someone among those lines, promptly saves her. He looks strikingly like Clare’s husband too! All up until the point where he tries to rape her, and she gets saved once more. This time by those previously mentioned men in kilts. And I keep referring to that, for I find Scottish traditional attire to be the best out of all I’ve ever seen.
All in one night’s work, Clare is questioned about her flimsy dress that men take for undergarments, gets to try her best and explain that nurse is not a wet-nurse in every case, sets back a dislodged shoulder of a handsome redhead Scot named Jamie, and is soon carried away to meet their laird (that’s a clan leader). All that to prove him she’s not an English spy. Don’t ask me why they didn’t just dump her ass in the forest if they didn’t trust her, I’ve no idea myself.
The book and the story goes on, and progressively evolves into a lot of things. Some good, some bad. The bad ones are unnecessary ones. For instance, story goes on an important track, and gets broken off in the middle to let us know Clare put her shoes on and made the bed. Then the story is continued. All these small and irritating (yet, masterfully placed within a proper flow, I admit) interruptions make up to probably half of a book, thus half of this book could be cut away and thrown away without us missing a damn thing. It gives nothing to the story, at all.
The good things are the unexpected ones, and those that take courage to be touched by any author at all. Say, the Loch Ness monster was unexpected, since this world has no magic beside the time-portal in the stones. Or the man-on-man rape, since we’re so (wrongly) unused in seeing truly strong and unbreakable men get broken to the point where they wish upon death in the face of physical violation. Then there’s the whole witch trial thing, and how in truth it could have been staged, and why.
Truly, the book is not bad. It simply reached me in the wrong time (ha!). Two years ago I would’ve told you this is the best thing I’ve ever read, but today I cannot. I’ll give it 3 out of 5 from the technical side, but know that it’s only my personal opinion. As I said before, if you like romance books with adventures and action, if you like Jude Deveraux or Nora Roberts – take this book and give it a chance.