I first tried to read Outlander a couple years ago, and I found that for whatever reason I couldn't get into it. Then, people started talking about it all around me these last few months, so I decided to give it another go. I couldn't find my copy of it at first, so I had to borrow from my friend, but I have read it now. I don't know what was wrong with me last time I tried because I loved it this time around!
From the back of the book:
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon - when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is Sassenach - an "outlander"- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord... 1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life... and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
The novel starts out rather dull, so I can understand why I didn't like it the first time through. The man that Claire has married in 1945 is rather addicted to history, and gets so wrapped up in that there is very little action until Claire touches the stones that send her back into history. I must be honest, I like fantasy, so time-travel is not all that strange to me. It was the idea of time travel in a historical fiction novel that always makes me a little leery. The truth is, though, I think that the way that Gabaldon sends Claire back into time is believable because she uses something that people today do not understand. The rocks that stand, like Stonehenge, are a archealogical mystery, so who is to say if you are not standing there at a certain time during the year that you will not be sent back in time. Stranger things can happen.
When Claire goes back in time, she is obviously not sure what is going on around her. One minute she was picking an interesting flower, and the next time men in ancient uniforms are running around her. She is not dressed properly for the times, and the first people she runs into are the British army, specifically a man by the name of Jack Randall, her husbands many great, grandfather. A man that her husband respects and looks up to because history has painted a wonderful picture of him. We quickly learn, though, that history does not always tell the whole story. Jack Randall is a brute who is bent on anger and injury. He shows up many times throughout the novel, and never once does he show the sunny picture that Claire's husband painted him as.
Who would have imagined what would have happened if she had been left with this heartless man, but when Randall thought he had her a man comes out of now where and whisks her off on another adventure. These are Scottish men, men that Claire finds herself connected to for the time being. She shows them that she is not a hopeless woman when she saves one of their injured, James Fraser. It is nothing at the time, but before the novels end, James (Jamie) will become an important part of the novel. You see, Randall is not finished with Claire, and in an attempt to save her, a member of the MacKenzie clan sees to that she marries a Scottish man so that she does not fall under the category as being a English woman, and thus at Randall's beck and call. This Scottish man is none other than Jamie Randall.
This marriage opens interesting circumstances for the young heroine because she is determined to return to her own time, so how can she marry this Jamie person when her heart belongs to another man in another time. In the end, though, she values her life more than worrying about infidelity. This begins a whole new chapter in her life because this strange, young Scottish man genuinely loves her and she finds feelings for him developing. So, when the choice is presented to her that she go back to 1945 or stay here with him, she has a difficult choice to make.
As your read this novel you can really imagine that you are living in the 1700's, the picture that Gabaldon paints through Claire's eyes is that clear. You get to witness the clan fights, see deep dark secrets about history played out, and understand what it is like to go from having a comfortable existence to going back to a time where many modern (for 1945) luxuries do not exist. Gabaldon will have you hooked as you get going, and you will not want to stop experiencing this English woman's adventures through time with her young Scottish love.