Book Review: Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon

Reviewed by Sara Rinne

[February 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage | Reviewed By Sara Rinne]

February means cold, gray days and slushy sidewalks. The promise of spring is too far away yet to warrant rising hopes, so we trudge through this mercifully short month by looking forward to…Valentine’s Day!

I have a confession: I’m not a great fan of Valentine’s Day. The chocolates, the roses—it’s all just a little too gooey for my taste. Call me a Valentine’s Day scrooge. However, I do enjoy a good romance novel, and my favorite love story of all time is between Claire and Jamie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, and if we’ve talked about books, I have undoubtedly recommended that you read Outlander. This is a book that defies categorization. It’s romance. It’s historical fiction. It’s science fiction. Whatever it is, it’s well worth the read, and it’s got plenty of steamy scenes to keep you warm on blustery February nights.

Outlander begins during World War II when Claire Beauchamp and her husband, Frank, are taking their belated honeymoon in Scotland. Claire is a British army nurse and Frank is an army officer. Just outside the town of Inverness where they are staying is an ancient circle of standing stones. One day, while gathering herbs near the stones, Claire is beckoned by a strange buzzing noise emanating from them. As she nears the stones, she passes through them, through time, and finds herself in the same spot in Scotland…200 years earlier.

Wait! Keep reading! Yes, this book is about time travel, and yes, this is when most people roll their eyes and politely place it back on the shelf. But it’s at this point that the story begins in earnest. It’s here that Claire meets the Mackenzie Clan and the dashing young member, Jamie Frazier.

In her quest to return to her own time and her husband, Claire must rely on the Mackenzies and on Jamie, in particular. Claire and Jamie have to get married and navigate many perilous situations. Claire is called upon to use her medical training several times (remember, she’s a nurse). At one point, she’s accused of being a witch. This book is chock full of action and adventure, and through the course of it all, Claire and Jamie fall in love.

The love between them is spectacular! Not only are they both perfect physical specimens, and not only is the—ahem—physical aspect of their love described in great detail, but their love is so much more than the sum of their physical parts. This is a love story that is very real, despite being predicated on a magical situation. Claire and Jamie argue. They’re flawed. They point out the other’s shortcomings. They are unkind to one another. But they also help each other and rely on each other. They love each other despite their imperfections. And when they make up after their arguments, let’s just say sparks fly.