Review: Outlander

Posted by in What I Think About What You Wrote (Reviews)

I bought this book more than a year ago. Someone told me it was great, but not only that, that it was –ahem- quite sexy. I was feeling chubby, and formula covered, and generally unsexy. I thought a little bit of pre-bedtime reading might help that.

Then I got it in the mail (side note: GOD – I LOVE AMAZON!) and it weighs a thousand pounds. Hundreds and hundreds of pages. I glanced briefly at the first few pages, something about Highland Scotland, post WWII. Ugh. Why didn’t I read the Amazon description? But now I’m stuck with it.

I have to admit that my eyes are bigger than my stomach when it comes to buying books. I have shelves and shelves of books that I just *have* to have, they call to me from the stores, from the Amazon app on my phone. Pssst. Meagan. Bring me home! But often I don’t get around to reading them right away, because, of course, I’ve bought more books and queue is very long. Once I own them however, however misguided I was in purchasing, I have to read it.

So, Outlander has been on my bookshelf taking up a lot of space for a very long time.

Then we got a free STARZ trial weekend, and I DVR’d the first half of the first season of the TV show. Josh and I watched it together. He was not a fan. I think his actual words were “It seems like kind of a chick show.” Truthfully, I didn’t much like it either. I find the guy who plays Claire’s husband Frank and Black Jack Randall to be really creepy and their relationship was just so weird and awkward. I was thinking that the fuss was misplaced.

But, then a couple weeks later I was eating lunch and needed something to entertain me. Outlander was the only thing on our DVR that wasn’t about Alaska, BigFoot, or cage fighting. And it was good. Really, really good. I fell hard for Jamie McTavish and as soon as the episode was over I went digging for my copy and curled up in bed.

Outlander is the story of Claire, who is 27 at the end of WWII. She is on a second honeymoon in Scotland when she falls through some sort of time warp portal and ends up in the 1740’s. Of course, Scotland and England are not on great terms at that point in history, so not only is she in the wrong time, but she is in a somewhat unfriendly place. She has to learn to survive using her wits.

Along the way she meets Jamie, who is swoon worthy, and they have a bunch of adventures together. (Hundreds of pages remember.) But it sort of all boils down to can she survive in this new time and place, can she get back to her own time, and after she meets Jamie – does she still want to?

I’m Scottish. Very, actually. Shetlands. But Highlander stuff, historical romance stuff, kilts and all that, don’t do anything for me. I feel like most men need to put on more clothes, not run around flapping in the breeze under a kilt. But, with Jamie, Galbaldon has created this character that you just can’t help but fall in love with. Of course he’s hot, he has red hair which usually does nothing for me, but the copious descriptions of his height and broad chest make up for that. He has a boys youthful exuberance, humor and joie de vivre, mixed with a man’s sense of duty and responsibility. He’s brave and sensitive and he says all the right things.

Claire, the heroine, however. Sigh. I don’t really know what to say about Claire. I like that she is smart and resourceful. She has a quick wit and I love that she doesn’t ever think about being beautiful, or amassing wealth. She isn’t worried about safety and that makes her very dynamic, but I don’t find her terribly likable. I think that is ok.

Parts of this story left me breathless. I carried the book around with me for a week, my nose in a page every free moment. Peeing? Waiting for water to boil? While my kids were watching Hercules for the thousandth time? But it could have been 200 pages shorter and I don’t think it would have lost anything.

Three quarters of the way through I bought the second book in the series, Dragonfly in Amber. I wanted to be able to start it as soon as I was finished the first. The story had gripped me and I couldn’t imagine how she could answer all my questions by the end. But now, I’ve been finished for over a week now, and I started another book, but it wasn’t Dragonfly in Amber. I’m actually almost done the new book and as I think about what I will pick up next, I’m not sure it will be Dragonfly. I feel like that says something.

I don’t know what is left to be said about Claire and Jamie, and the thought that there are like 7 or 8 more books in the series makes me wonder if she is trying a little too hard. But now the second book is sitting on my shelf, maybe in another year you’ll read my review.