A few days ago I finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It is the first new book that I decided to read as a part of my personal challenge to read all 200 books on the BBC’s Big Read list. I picked this one first because I saw that they are making a television series of it (and I assume, if it does well, the sequels will be added) and after watching the first episode I thought that it looked really good.
To put things simply, although this book cannot really be summed up in any way, Outlander is centered on a combat nurse from 1945, Claire Randall, married to Frank Randall. She gets transported back in time to 1743, where she is swept up into a dramatic and passionate story with young Jamie Fraser and a group of Scots. In 1743, Claire is faced with what to do about her knowledge of the future and her medical skills, along with the threat of Black Jack Randall—but the method devised to lessen this threat causes an internal conflict for the nurse.
For me, this book contains almost everything that I love. It has a dashing hero, a woman who can hold her own in a threatening world, a passionate romance, science fiction in the form of time travel, and a glimpse into a country’s illustrious history. It is very well written, and I absolutely cannot wait until I am able to read the remaining books in the series.
Reading Outlander provided me with a refreshing change that will ensure that this book sticks out in mind for years to come. I am talking, of course, about the style/perspective in which Outlander is written. Pretty much all of the books that I read have been in the third person, although whether it focuses on one main character such as Harry Potter or multiple characters like in Game of Thrones varies significantly. Outlander, on the other hand, is written in the first person perspective so the reader is seeing this story through Claire’s eyes. Beyond a refreshing change, I think that this choice is not only brilliant but is also executed extremely well. The use of this perspective, I believe, was the right choice as the readers are essentially in the same position as Claire—we are in the “future” and are experiencing the past in the same way as Claire, who is also not used to this time period. If the novel had been written in another style, this experience could have been tainted as the Scots in the book are in their proper time period and therefore are used to everything already. Claire, as stated, is not used to the scene she is presented with and is in a state of unease, the same as each reader.
All in all, I would highly recommend reading Outlander, although make sure that you are able to make the commitment as it is quite the large and intricately detailed novel, though it is for sure worth every minute spent reading.