It tells the story of Claire, a woman who is on holiday in Scotland with her husband Frank after being separated from him for a few years while they were both serving in World War Two. One day on a walk in the countryside she starts mucking around a stone circle and gets sucked back in time two hundred years to the mid-seventeen-hundreds. She is captured and taken to a local castle by some Scots who think she is an English spy. To keep her safe and to find out if she really is a spy, she is manoeuvred into marriage with Jamie, the nephew of the local laird. Luckily for Claire, Jamie is hot and likes her back. Unluckily, he is an outlaw so they’re forced to be almost constantly on the run from the English.
I really enjoyed Outlander. Like I said, I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a terrific read. It’s a really good balance of romance and adventure and life-threatening situations and considering it was so long (900 pages) it held my attention well throughout.
I have absolutely no idea if it is historically accurate or not. But do you know what? It was such a good adventure-romance that I just don’t care. My feeling is that you could probably plot Outlander right on the intersection of a Venn diagram where the two sets are ‘Well-researched historical fiction’ and ‘Smutty romance’.
One thing I would say is that if you’re not fond of sex in books, this definitely isn’t the one for you. Literally all Claire and Jamie do is shag: they’re at it night and day for nearly the whole novel. I guess they didn’t have television or the Internet in those days so people were forced to make their own amusements. Maybe that’s why everyone had so many children. On the whole, the sex scenes were well done, but one of them got a bit rapey which I wasn’t a fan of, although in the 1700s there was legally no such thing as a man raping his wife.
This aside, I really liked Jamie and Claire’s relationship. Considering they were forced into marriage very quickly and had an instant physical attraction, the actual love side of things developed nice and slowly and they do spend a small amount of time talking to each other (in between all the sex scenes). (Seriously, I’m not making this up: there is so much sex in this book!) Jamie obviously really loved Claire and while his attitudes to women were a bit misogynistic at times, I was glad the author didn’t try and make him modern in his outlook: I thought this was a lot more representative of the times they were living in. I was also glad that Claire had enough of a backbone to stand up to him.
So anyway, there was one bit of the book that made me do the raised-eyebrow emoticon thing. Imagine this scenario:
You’ve just been reunited with your younger brother after not seeing him for a couple of years. Almost immediately, you get into an argument and your brother isn’t listening to you while you’re trying to put your point across. He’s being really annoying. Do you;
(a) Tock him on the forehead with a handy teaspoon/pencil/book
(b) Shout, ‘Just shut the FUCK up for a minute, will you?’
(c) Reach under his kilt and grab him by the bare bollocks.
See, I’d go with option (a). Maybe (b). Under no circumstances would I go for option (c). My brother is a laid-back guy, but if I tried to pull shit like that, I think our relationship would be irreparably damaged. In fact, just thinking about doing it is making me pull a grossed-out face while I’m writing this.
And yet, that’s exactly what Jaime’s sister does when they’re in the middle of an argument. And no one seems to think it’s an odd thing to do. Seriously, has society changed that much in 250 years that this used to be an acceptable way to get someone’s attention? Your brother’s attention, in fact. Who does that? It’s just ... Eurgh! Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Coincidentally, my brother lives in Scotland. Next time I speak to him, maybe I’ll ask him if it’s a Scottish thing. Or maybe I won’t, thereby avoiding the weird look he’s bound to give me.
Outlander, for me, was such a brilliant read. I’m tempted to give it a full five stars, but I really only do that for books I’m planning on re-reading. There are parts of Outlander that I’d re-read (yes, the sex parts), but at 900 pages, a full re-read would be a serious undertaking. Especially when there are a further five books in the series.
Also the bollock-grabbing scene was just too weird.