Book info

Outlander (2005)

Outlander (2005)
Rating
4.17 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0440242940 (ISBN13: 9780440242949)
languge
English
series
genre
publisher
dell publishing company
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Outlander (2005)
Outlander (2005)

About book: I gave up on this book because I was sustaining permanent damage from reading it and I was afraid I'd start hitting back. And it's a borrowed copy, so that wouldn't be cool.In fairness, I should say there's a lot of good writing here. I really enjoyed the beginning chapters. They even kind of cracked me up, because I have friends who love genealogy and their husbands always get that look when they start talking about it and that's exactly how I imagined Claire looking when her husband Frank started droning on and on about his ancestors.And Claire is a nurse, which is a really good transportable skill if you're going to be thrown back in time which it turns out Claire is. (Sorry. Spoiler alert.) Can you imagine if you were one of those Nerds On Wheels computer repair people and you got sent to eighteenth-century Scotland? You'd be totally screwed.But Claire's skills come in handy without seeming out of place. A woman who's a dab hand at healing is always welcome in Olden Tymes, so Claire is able to land on her feet and kind of get a job once she figures out what happened to her and comes to terms with it.Which is pretty much immediately. Which is when the book started to lose me. There's, like, no culture shock whatsoever. She gets knocked back two hundred years or so. She goes, "WHOA. What the flimminy?" She starts being The Lady To Go To With Your Eighteenth-Century Scottish Boo-Boos. That's it. There are a few mentions of things like how shoes fit differently back then and anachronistic language, but there's no sense of the kind of thing a person from the future would be startled by. Not the food, not the weird underwear, nothing. Claire just settles in and starts being the resident nurse at a castle. She keeps half an eye out for a chance to get to the place that can take her back to the future, but it has all the deep emotional urgency that I feel when I really should stop by the grocery store on the way home but it won't kill anybody if I go tomorrow instead. Like, whatevs. Still, there was plenty to keep me interested. Like – leeches! The stuff about leeches was cool. And the info about healing herbs. And that kid getting his ear hammered to a board because he was caught stealing.Really, this book would have worked fine for me if it hadn't been for what everybody else seems to love about it, which is the Romantic Interest. Which still would have been fine, even with the whole SHE'S MARRIED ALREADY thingy. But, okay – let's say that she has to marry that guy. They aren't in love when they get married and so the whole point of the book is to watch their relationship develop, while Claire struggles with guilt and fear and thoughts of how her real husband must be worrying about her and how the heck does time-travel work in this book and WHY IS SHE JUST ASSUMING THAT TIME IS GOING BY IN THE FUTURE AT THE SAME RATE IT IS FOR HER? WHY, I ASK YOU?(Sorry. I'm a minor-league nerd, and this part really bugged me.)So what I just described would have been a book I could read and enjoy, or at least read and not scream in pain. But apparently someone gave Diana Gabaldon the creepiest piece of writing advice EVER, and it was this:"Listen – you know how if you're cooking and you're worried it's not turning out very well, just add bacon if it's savory and chocolate chips if it's sweet and everybody'll love it? Well, if you're working on your first novel and you don't know what to have happen next, just throw in some rape! Or attempted rape! Works like a charm!"She follows this advice to the letter, and I'm sorry but I have to go home now. I managed to read the "she disobeys him so he beats her with his belt" scene. I almost punched the book right in the face, but as I said, it's a friend's copy so I had to be nice.Then I managed to get through the "she forgives him for the beating, like, the next freakin' day" scene. I started fantasizing about this book getting stuck in the elevator of a burning building, but I was able to hold on and keep going.Then there was the scene where Big Kilted Oaf – I mean, Jamie – starts laughing about the whole beating thing and reminiscing about how hot she looked when he was holding her down beating the crap out of her and she forgives him for that, too. Like, instantly. And I'm all, "WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE?" And still I staggered on. Heaven only knows why. And how did the author reward me for my perseverance? What is this book all about? What's the recurring literary theme?Rape. Attempted rape. More attempted rape. Marital rape. A little more marital rape. Conversations about rape. GIGGLING during conversations about rape. And I'm all, "I'M OUT OF HERE AND I DON'T CARE HOW MANY OF MY FRIENDS HATE ME."I read 444 pages in a row, plus I skimmed a lot of the rest of it including the creepiest, rapiest Chekhov's gun I've ever seen fired. Do NOT tell me I didn't give this book a fair chance. I TOTALLY DID.In case you need proof, here's a list of all the things I learned about rape from Outlander.1. It's a bummer for the woman involved, but save your sympathy for her brother. (Assuming you have any emotional response at all, which you won't if you're Claire.)Jamie tells Claire about his sister Jenny being raped by a dastardly redcoat. He has a good chuckle talking about how Jenny punches and kicks her attacker. She isn't able to hold him off forever, though. And Jamie gets flogged for trying to defend her. Claire's response?"I'm sorry. It must have been terrible for you."It is terrible for Jamie to have his sister "dishonor herself wi' such scum." (Nice.) So terrible that he can't bring himself to go back home to her when he gets out of prison, and "see her again, after what happened." She's impregnated by the rape. Left on her own both emotionally and financially, she is forced to become the mistress of another English soldier. Jamie finally sends her what money he can, but can't bring himself to write to her. Because, you know, "what could I say?"Claire's response?"Oh, dear."(Really -- how could I give up on this book when the main character is so sympathetic?)2. Rape can lead to comically inaccurate ideas about how people do "the nasty!"After Jamie and Claire consummate their marriage, Jamie confesses that he "didna realize that ye did it face to face. I thought ye must do it the back way, like; like horses, ye know." Claire tries to keep a straight face as she asks him why on earth he thought that."I saw a man take a woman plain, once, out in the open. But that...well, it was a rape, was what it was, and he took her from the back. It made some impression on me, and as I say, it's just the idea stuck."So of course Claire flips out and asks him what the heck that was all about. Who was it? Why was he witness to a rape "out in the open"? Was he able to help the woman? What happened to her?Oh. Wait. This is Claire the Emotionless. She doesn't ask him anything, and he doesn't say anything else on the subject. Instead, they cuddle and talk about how much fun what they just did was. Because a story about rape out in the open is just the kind of pillow talk a woman wants to hear when she's relaxing after a nice bout of bigamy. I mentioned I loved this book, right? I didn't? Good.3. Nearly getting raped turns you on for Mr. Right!Jamie and Claire are off on their own in the woods for a spot of marital bliss when they're set upon by highwaymen. Claire is nearly raped, but manages to kill her assailant. Yes, she was a nurse during World War II, but I think there's a difference between witnessing violence and inflicting it yourself. She kills the guy in the nick of time. He's on top of her, so she undoubtedly gets his blood all over her. Meanwhile, Jamie manages to dispatch the other two guys.And then Claire flips out about the fact that she was just attacked, and she had to kill a guy, and she had to kill a guy at close quarters with a knife.Oh. Wait. This is Claire. She has no response to any of this, now or later. Well, she does have one response:When I put my hands on his shoulders, he pulled me hard against his chest with a sound midway between a groan and a sob. We took each other then, in a savage, urgent silence, thrusting fiercely and finishing within moments.If your marital love life has been a bit blah lately, why not get attacked and then kill the guy? It'll spice things right up!4. It's not rape if it's your husband and he promises he'll hurry..."Jamie! Not here!" I said, squirming away and pushing my skirt down again."Are ye tired, Sassenach?" he asked with concern. "Dinna worry, I won't take long."(next page):He took a firm grip on my shoulders with both hands."Be quiet, Sassenach," he said with authority. "It isna going to take verra long."I gather it's especially not rape if your husband has an ethnic-slur nickname for you. He should use this at least three times a page. (Yes, "Sassenach" is derogatory. It'd be like if you were white and your husband called you his little gringo. Although that would actually be kind of funny if he's white, too. I think I want to get my husband to start calling me that now. But I digress.)5. ...or if it's your husband and he just really, really wants it.Claire is saying no, and no again. She's still in pain from the last time they did it, because he didn't take no for an answer even when she told him quite honestly he was hurting her. So how does our romantic lead respond?James Fraser was not a man to take no for an answer. ...Gentle he would be, denied he would not.I quoted that last line to my husband, and he got the same look on his face that I had on mine all through a two-day bout with food poisoning.If this book works for you, fine. I'm not here to judge. I'm just asking that you understand how completely creeped out I was by all this, and not tell me I didn't give it a fair chance. I did. I really hate not finishing a book once I start it, but I just couldn't stand it any more.

Reviewed for www.thcreviews.comI've read that Outlander was originally marketed as a romance novel because the publisher didn't know what else to do with it, but this book is no ordinary romance novel. It doesn't follow any typical romance formula and is a real genre bender that doesn't fit neatly into any one category. Outlander has a swoon-worthy hero and dozens of truly romantic scenes that should be sufficient to satisfy even the most discriminating romance reader, while it's time travel aspect and a few references to witches and fairies should be of interest to readers of fantasy and paranormal stories. At it's heart though Outlander is a historical novel rife with details of 18th century life in the Scottish Highlands both inside and outside a castle or large estate. It also recounts some of the events leading up to the Jacobite Pretender's Uprising of 1745. Diana Gabaldon is an amazing writer who delves deep into her character's lives and the history surrounding them, painting an extraordinary picture that truly transports the reader to another time and place.Claire is an incredibly strong heroine, who can sometimes be a bit brash and sassy, but deep down she is a kind and caring person at heart. She adapts amazingly well to a new time and place, much better than most people ever would if faced with the dilemma she was. Claire is a very intelligent woman who uses every ounce of knowledge at her disposal to reverse her predicament, while helping others, especially with their medical needs, and bringing a much needed modern perspective to ancient methods. She somehow finds the courage to made difficult choices in an era when choices were sometimes few or non-existent, especially for women, and to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Claire is stubborn and persistent even in the face of nearly impossible odds. Best of all she is a pillar of strength to her beloved Jamie as much as he is to her, and she has a powerful underlying passion that matches his own for her.Jamie, in my opinion, is the best romantic hero ever to be penned by an author. He exhibits both physical and mental strength, as well as a strength of character, that go above and beyond any ordinary romantic hero. His word is his honor, and his commitment to that honor is moving beyond words. If only there were more men in reality who could be so easily trusted and taken at their word. Jamie shows a deep respect, not just for Claire, but for all the women with whom he comes in contact, a true gentleman in every sense of the word. On the outside, Jamie is tough as nails, enduring more physical pain than any one person should ever be expected to, while on the inside, he is kind, gentle and sensitive, often instinctively knowing things that others don't. He is thoroughly intelligent and well-educated and often beautifully poetic in his speech. He is lighthearted and self-deprecating, never taking himself too seriously. I loved the way he was always teasing Claire. Jamie is simply a wonderful character, a man who loves selflessly and with his whole being.There is much to enjoy about this book. Together, Jamie and Claire make a formidable couple, and it is obvious from the outset that they are soulmates. Their absolute trust in each other, basically from the moment they meet, is in and of itself, romance at it's finest. There are no contrived misunderstandings between them, only naked honesty, which brings an openness and vulnerability to both characters that is breathtaking. I love the way the author creates a beautiful friendship between these two characters before they end up at the altar and of course then become lovers. What's even better though is how that friendship continues to blossom and grow deeper and deeper even after they are married. The intimacy level of these two characters is something I rarely see in a novel, and most of it has little or nothing to do with sexual interludes. During the times when Jamie and Claire were apart even for short periods of time, I simply couldn't wait for them to be reunited, as the two of them together absolutely electrify the pages. All the secondary characters are extremely well-crafted and surprisingly well fleshed out, even those who play only minor parts. The setting is beautifully rendered as well, almost becoming a character unto itself. The time travel aspect adds an extended element of intrigue, and Ms. Gabaldon has certainly taken the time to think through the ramifications of such a feat if it were indeed possible. Every scene simply adds to the richness of detail in the book, and there is nothing that I felt was excess. The author's care in seamlessly weaving all of the elements together is evident all throughout the book.While there are many things to love about this story, there were a few events that bothered me just a bit. There was a scene in which Jamie beats Claire with his sword belt for disobedience. The scene in and of itself actually did not bother me much, because I fully understood his reasons for doing so and he later took a vow never to do it again. What did bother me was his admission that he enjoyed it. The admission was made in a fairly lighthearted manner. In light of that, I suppose it might have been meant as humorous, but perhaps it was too subtle for me to fully appreciate. Even so, I might not have thought much of it except for the fact that the villain in this story is a brutal sadist. For that reason, I found myself a bit annoyed at having the hero of the story exhibit even a hint of such a tendency. There were also a couple of scenes of what I would term rather intense and rough lovemaking, one of which began with Jamie behaving in a dominant manner, and neither of which were quite to my taste. They just seemed a bit out of character for Jamie, who up to this point, and following, was always a gentle and considerate though passionate lover. I will allow though for the fact that Jamie apologized for the first incident and admitted equality after the second. Finally, there was a scene in which Jamie related a prior incident with a secondary character in his youth, which by today's standards would have been nothing short of an act of child molestation against him, but which was treated rather casually by all involved. I wanted to reconcile this in a historical perspective, but as hard as I tried, I simply couldn't. I also feel compelled to warn sensitive readers that there is an incidence of brutal sexual violence near the end of the book. It is not played out in real-time, but instead is related a bit at a time through dialog and implication, but still is immensely palpable in the intensity of it's aftereffects on the psyche of the character who was the victim. I'm not usually overly squeamish about such things, but I have to admit to having some difficulty reading these passages. More than once, they brought tears to my eyes.In spite of the things I have mentioned though, Outlander is still by far one of the best books I have ever read. I have to give Ms. Gabaldon extra points for all of her attention to details. It is a joy to read such an intelligently-written and meticulously-researched novel that is so rich in detail. It went far beyond my expectations for a debut novel for any author. It even sparked my interest in learning more about the time and place that is depicted in it. Outlander is the type of book that is so engrossing and compelling that it makes one want to read straight through without ever putting it down, though it's epic length makes that somewhat unfeasible. This was my second reading of the book, and it certainly won't be my last. It has a earned a permanent place on my keeper shelf along with it's sequels Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes all of which continue Jamie and Claire's story.
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Reviews
Latharia
Susan Strobel Thank you yes. As somebody who's also been sexually assaulted, multiple times and as somebody who enjoys kinky sex, what some of the other "readers" are calling rape is not rape. You are taking away the agency of Claire, her right and able-mindedness of deciding when and what type of sexual intercourse she wants to engage in. Just because a sexual encounter between two people is sudden, lustful and rough and one of them wants to hold back but also wants to get completely lost in the moment does not qualify it as sexual assault. It's consensual sex. One does not need to enjoy one type of sexual behaviour or other to understand the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex.
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker Queen of the Undead
Update- 4/29/12- I'm having serious Outlander withdrawals, whenever this happens, I find myself searching for novels like this (not just time-travel, or historical romance, or rich with details, but the excellent writing as well) and always come up short. There is nothing out there like this and it is sad. Re-read finished 1-16-12 (still the best damn book out there)You can read my review as a guest reviewer here...http://lupdilup-hotlistens.blogspot.c...or below... The Outlander series audiobook review My background with the series I tried three times to read Outlander, the first book in the Outlander series. I could not get past the first 100 pages. I thought it was boring, the detail was tedious, and I was wondering why everyone was raving about the book and how it earned its high ratings. Stubborn as I am, I thought I would try the book as an audiobook. That is when my love affair began! This review is for the entire series on audiobook and not just book one. Book 1 is what started it all but my love for the series has just grown after each book. As of today’s date, Diana Gabaldon has released seven books in the series. I listened to six of the seven books on audiobook and read one book on paperback. The books I listened to where all unabridged and all narrated by the magnificent Davina Porter. The story The story begins in 1945 or is that 1743? See this is a time-travel story like no other. You will find numerous reviews out there that will detail the finer points of the story. For me, it was about love, sacrifice, honor, family, and loyalty. It had action, suspense, violence, sex, heartbreak, and humor. During the story, I fell in love with Jamie, the main lead male character. In fact, he is my all time favorite male character in any book I have ever read. Considering I average over 300 books a year, there has been plenty of male characters to compete with “my Jamie” (I know, only in my dreams). The Narrator What makes a book I could barely read transform into a series I cannot stop reading? Two words- Davina Porter. Ms. Porter is not only an audiobook narrator; she is the best in the business. Ms. Porter not only handles the female character’s voices with elegance and ease, but is a master at the male voices as well. I literally forgot that I was listening to a woman when she voiced Jamie’s character. When Jamie expressed his love for Claire, I really, truly believed I was listening to Jamie. It was not just Jamie and his Scottish brogue that was so realistically voiced but also every other character (male or female, young or old) and every possible accent. Davina Porter is a master at all genders, accents, and breathing. Breathing you say? Yes breathing. Often times, a narrator will pause to breathe and you hear it. If the narration is fast-paced, the narrator has a tendency to sound out of breath. Ms. Porter does not seem to breathe. I know she does, obviously, but she is just a master at covering it up. If you couldn’t read book one Try the audiobook. Listening to Davina Porter and her amazing narration of the story, will change your Outlander experience!
Navessa
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