Monday, December 3, 2007

Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)


This is actually a reread... but I haven't read it in at least 10 years. I don't know what it is about this series - it's about a nurse who steps into a set of stones in the Scottish Highlands and is transported back in time 200 years to the 1740s. There, she meets a Scotsman names Jamie who she must marry in order to avoid an uncomfortable political situation. The reason she has to marry him is that the brutal sadist who left Jamie irreparably scarred by means of a public flogging suspects Claire is a spy and means to "question" her. Ironically enough, this man is the great-great grandfather of the man Claire left behind in her time (Frank). Jack Randall also has the hots for Jamie - the reason he flogged him is because Jamie refused to have sex with him.
Oh, and Jamie is wanted for a murder because Jack framed him.

I really can't explain the appeal but the books are riveting. I never would have read it except one of my coworkers highly recommended it. I believe there are 4 books in all... They are some of my absolute favorites.

So back to the story. Claire and Jamie get married. Then Claire gets put up on witch charges because of her close association with a self proclaimed witch who just happens to have poisoned her husband because she is pregnant by the cripple laird's brother. Oh and the witch, Geillis Duncan? Turns out she is also from the future - just as she sacrifices herself to the screaming horde to save Claire, she gets a glimpse of her smallpox scar.

So then, Claire and Jamie return to his family estate, Lollybrach, which his sister Jenny and her one legged husband are running. Jamie thinks Jenny bore Jack Randall's son, but turns out she didn't. Just an ugly rumor. Jamie and Claire can only stay at Lollybrach for a fews days though as the English patrols are still hunting him.

They are about to leave when Jenny's baby is born. As they are making final moves, Jamie is captured by the English to a formidable prison, where he spends a lot of quality time with Jack Randall. He is sentenced to death by hanging. Claire breaks in only to find a weak Jamie who has already been tortured. Jack Randall walks in, catches Claire and Jamie bargains with Randall - he will participate in his games in exchange for Claire's freedom.

After Jack Randall nails Jamie's hand to the table, Claire is booted out the back of the prison and is set upon by wolves which she has to fight off with her bare hands. She is rescued by a huge man wearing a bearskin. Turns out he is Jamie's mom's former love, the one who gave her the pearls Claire now wears. He helps break Jamie out of prison, by sending many, many cattle into the prison. They get Jamie out but they are almost too late. Claire makes emergency repairs to his shattered hand and body, then they flee to an abby in France where Jamie has family and where he successfully recovered from near fatal wounds once before.

This time though, the pain is more mental than physical. Jamie admits to Claire that the torture he endured has left Claire and Jack linked in Jamie's mind and though he burns for her he cannot bear to touch her. He asks Claire to leave the abby, then promptly contracts a blood infection and is about to die. Claire has an incredibly odd encounter with him where she essentially pretends to be Jack Randall. Jamie fights her and slowly begins to heal from all he's been through. At the end of the book, Jamie and Claire are contemplating moving to America and they hint that Claire may be pregnant.

See, I don't know why I like it, but boy do I. I am surprised by how little I remember of the details of the book - I rarely reread so it might be this way with everything I read. Who knows? At any rate I think I will revisit the entire series. Will have to put the next one on my request list at the library.


Bonny_Blue said...

You did a great job on your summary. I am also a big, big fan of this series (there are 6 ! books now in this line). It's a little embarassing to tell people about them because the premise just seems so silly. My book club is reading the first one now on my reccomendation. I hope they like it! I find them riveting. Perhaps it's the detail and the length that grab me. Read the rest, you'll love them. Ms. Gabaldon has promised at least a 7th book in the series. The spin-off Lord John series I don't find as enjoyable for some reason.

Kim Loftis, the Spiritual Fulfillment Coach said...

Although the premis of these books are intriguing, and they've been highly recommended to me by both my mom and a friend, I can't bring myself to like Claire... she's driving me absolutely nuts! I'm about halfway through Outlander now and am finally getting more into it, but I just want to shake Claire sometimes! Grrrrr! Nice review, though. Thanks.

Backfence said...

Your review should be preceded with a "Spoiler Alert" as you reveal entirely too much of the story line. If you are reviewing this for the benefit of ones who have not read the series, you have gone far beyond tickling their ears.